By Steve Lichtenstein
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As “statement games” go, the Nets’ 102-97 victory over Boston last night should probably be declared in a whisper.
The Nets squeaked by the visiting Celtics, who were on the second leg of a back-to-back and minus All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo. Plus any mid-November statement in an NBA season has to be taken like a result from a current 2016 Presidential poll—it has very little predictive value.
Still, this one was important to the Nets, who now take their 5-2 record to the west coast riding a four-game winning streak. As a New York sports fan, I relish any win over Boston, even if it’s World Team Tennis. But more significantly, if the Nets want to accomplish anything this season, they have to defend their home floor, even while many of them are still just getting a feel for the lay of the…
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — In their first four games, the New York Knicks surprised many by consistently performing above preseason expectations and jumping out to an unbeaten start.
Another night and another victory later, the Knicks’ breakout beginning doesn’t seem to have an end in sight.
Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points, J. R. Smith and Raymond Felton each added 21, and the New York Knicks held off the Orlando Magic 99-89 Tuesday night to improve to 5-0.
The victory extended New York’s NBA-best start. The Knicks have won their first five games for the first time since opening the 1993-94 season 7-0 on their way to the NBA finals. The Knicks remain the league’s only unbeaten team.
“Defense, we buckled down,” Anthony said. “We kind of slowed them down, kept them off the glass rebounding. Once we had a chance to rebound the basketball, get out and make some shots…
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The Barclays center is finally becoming a home court advantage to the Brooklyn Nets. Nets hit 55 percent of their attempts, led by Deron Williams’ 26 points and 10 assists. Joe Johnson (25 points) and Brook Lopez (23 points) weren’t far behind.
“I don’t want to talk about the defense,” said Scott, when asked to describe the Cavaliers’ ability. “There was nothing there defensively. We’ve got to get more guys who are going to be competitive. Right now we’ve really got three — Boobie Gibson, Alonzo Gee and Anderson Varejao. We’ve got to get the other guys to join into the party, simple as that.”
Throughout the Cavaliers’ six-game road trip, opponents hit 52 percent of their shots, and the Nets’ luck was no different Tuesday. Varejao kept the Cavaliers in the game with a 17-point, seven-rebound first quarter, but Brooklyn pulled ahead in the second quarter thanks to a 35-12 run that included 61.9 percent shooting.
It was, in essence, when the Cavaliers began their trip home to Cleveland. Scott said he purposely didn’t mention to his young team that the Brooklyn game was the final contest of the long road trip.
“Our guys are so young, if you mention, ‘Hey, don’t start thinking about home,’ then they’ll start thinking about home,” Scott said.
Irving raised the level of his play in the third quarter when he hit 5-of-8 attempts and scored 14 of his career-high 34 points. His ball-handling brought gasps and hearty “Oooh”s” from the Brooklyn crowd each time he broke down the Nets’ defense. Among the highlights: a nifty behind-the-back pass to Varejao in traffic, and a lightning-quick spin move after a steal late in the game.
“He’s got the ball on a string, so when he’s in a pick-and-roll situation, it’s very tough for our big men to get out on him because he’s so good at splitting it,” the Nets’ Williams said. “He’s quick and he can shoot the ball so well that you can’t just back off him. He’s one of the tougher players to guard.”
Among the bright spots for the Cavaliers, in fact, is that the pick-and-roll tandem of Irving and Varejao is beginning to click with precision. Varejao and Irving accounted for 69 of the Cavaliers’ points while shooting 62.5 percent. The rest of the Cavaliers shot just 27.7 percent. The Cleveland bench scored a whopping six points.
“Playing with Kyrie, with those pick and rolls, all I did was make layups,” Varejao said of his unexpected offensive performance.
Scott, for one, is hoping that Varejao’s defensive intensity will rub off on his Cavaliers teammates more than his rare offensive outburst Tuesday. Varejao’s best advice is simply to play harder.
“Effort, rotations, a little bit of everything,” Varejao said. “But effort, I would say, is the biggest thing in defense. It’s not going to always be perfect, but if you put effort in, you’re going to make up for your mistakes on defense.
Ed Rivera Ap
HOUSTON (AP) – If there’s one player who never has to be reminded of the importance of rebounding, it’s Denver’s Kenneth Faried.
That was clear on Wednesday night.
Ty Lawson scored 21 points and Faried had 16 points and 16 rebounds to help the Nuggets to a 93-87 victory over the Houston Rockets.
Faried, a second-year player who holds the NCAA modern-era record for rebounds with 1,673 in his college career, had three in the last minute to hold off a late surge from Houston.
“I just felt the whole game that Kenneth had the spirit that he was going to win this game tonight,” Denver coach George Karl said. “He was pretty incredible.”
James Harden had a tough night for the Rockets and finished with a season-low 15 points on 5 of 15 shooting.
Harden bulled into the lane for a layup to cut Denver’s lead to five…
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MIAMI (AP) — In 25 seasons of Miami Heat basketball, the club had never won its first four home games of any season.
That is, until now.
And the Heat are making it look easy.
Dwyane Wade scored 22 points on 10 for 14 shooting, LeBron James finished two assists shy of a triple-double and the Heat clamped down defensively again to beat the Brooklyn Nets 103-73 on Wednesday night.
Miami scored 31 points off Brooklyn turnovers, and starting with the final minute of the first half, the Heat outscored the Nets 57-32.
”When we get stops, we’re going to break open a lot of games because we can score,” James said. ”So that’s the No. 1 key.”
James had 20 points and 12 rebounds in only 30 minutes, and Rashard Lewis came off the bench to score 13 points on 6 for 9 shooting for the Heat (4-1). Miami…
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP)Al Jefferson scored 18 points and Randy Foye added 17 on five 3-pointers to lift the Utah Jazz over the Los Angeles Lakers, 95-86 on Wednesday night.
Mo Williams added 16 points on 8 of 13 shooting for Utah (2-3).
Kobe Bryant entered the game shooting nearly 60 percent but started 3 of 10 and finished 7 of 17 for 29 points as the Lakers fell to 1-4.
Dwight Howard added 19 points for the Lakers and Metta World Peace had 15.
The Jazz led by as many as 16 points early, but the Lakers were within five with 8:27 left before Foye hit three straight 3-pointers to give Utah a 79-68 lead with 6:40 remaining.
The Lakers held a huge advantage at the free throw line, making 32 of 46, including 15 of 17 for Bryant…
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