George, Leonard team to help Clippers overpower Suns 120-99
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers are one player short of finally fielding their entire team. And it can’t come too soon for Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
George scored 24 points, Leonard added 20 and the Clippers returned home after two weeks away to beat the Phoenix Suns 120-99 on Tuesday night. They were only missing JaMychal Green after having George and Leonard in and out of the lineup since the season began.
“We can start to get into a rhythm with everybody on the floor,” Leonard said. “We can see what our rotation is.”
The Clippers went 4-2 on their recent road trip, which matched their longest of the season. Leonard didn’t play in the finale, a loss Saturday at Chicago.
But he came back strong at Staples Center, teaming with George in a dominant third quarter that saw the Clippers stretch their lead from five points to 21 by the time it was over. The two superstars combined to score 18 points in a 32-16 run that sent the Clippers into the fourth leading 90-69.
“We just couldn’t figure out the Clippers’ zone,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “We were a bit tired, playing in three time zones in four days. Our starting group just passed it around and was hoping for something to happen.”
Lou Williams added 20 points for the Clippers, scoring their first 11 of the fourth — including three 3-pointers.
“When he gets it going there is no shot that he can’t make,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “That was a good stretch for us. Lou’s offense allowed us to keep Paul and Kawhi off the floor and give them some rest.”
Ivica Zubac had 12 points in helping the team win its 12th in a row over the Suns in Los Angeles.
Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 19 points and Deandre Ayton added 18 points and 12 rebounds in his return from a 25-game NBA suspension for Phoenix, which lost its fourth in a row.
“He still has to get in his rhythm, so I’m not going to judge him too hard,” Oubre said. “At the end of the day, he’s one piece of this puzzle.”
Pacers rally late to snap Lakers’ road winning streak at 14
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Malcolm Brogdon saw an opening and took it Tuesday night.
And just like that, the Los Angeles Lakers’ long winning streak away from home was over.
Brogdon drove past Dwight Howard with 36.4 seconds left, scoring the tiebreaking basket on a nifty reverse layup to help the Indiana Pacers protect their home court with a 105-102 victory over the NBA’s best road team.
“We knew when we threw a punch, they would punch back,” Domantas Sabonis said. “We just stuck together.”
Eventually, the Pacers threw enough scoring jabs to earn their fourth straight victory — perhaps their most impressive all season.
The Lakers (24-4) came into the game with the league’s best record and 14 straight wins on the road, the second-longest streak in franchise history and two wins short of their record-setting mark from 1971-72.
But even LeBron James couldn’t bail them out with All-Star forward Anthony Davis missing the game because of a sprained right ankle.
Yes, James scored 20 points and had nine rebounds and nine assists, but he missed a step-back 3-pointer with 11.7 seconds left that would have given the Lakers the lead. A replay review overturned a call and gave the Pacers the ball.
Sabonis then made one of two free throws to finish with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each missed a shot before time expired as the Lakers desperately tried to force overtime.
Kopitar scores in OT, Kings beat Bruins 4-3
BOSTON (AP) — Jonathan Quick preserved a tie just long enough for Anze Kopitar to win it for the Los Angeles Kings and extend their best stretch of the season.
Quick stopped 37 shots, three of them in overtime before Kopitar beat Tuukka Rask on a wrist shot at 3:23 of OT to give the Kings a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.
“Any overtime is a good opportunity,” Kopitar said. “We gave up a couple of chances. Quickie was good. He was able to stop them and we cashed in on the win.”
After outshooting the Kings 16-8 in the third period, only to allow the tying goal with 2:01 left in regulation, the Bruins were dominating again in overtime but Quick continued coming up with saves.
Quick stopped Anders Bjork alone in front midway through the overtime, then got Patrice Bergeron to shoot wide of the net on a breakaway less than a minute later. Kopitar gathered a loose puck near his own blue line, took it straight up the ice and beat Rask with the game-winner.
“I couldn’t be happier for the guys. They had to put a lot into that game to win,” Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said. “There’s a lot of happy Kings in the locker room after. They deserve to celebrate.”
Los Angeles, which entered the game with 31 points — the lowest total in the Western Conference — won for the fourth time in five games, five games and extending their best stretch of the season (4-0-1).
“We just kept playing, kept plugging away and at the end of the day it worked for us,” Kopitar said.
Baltimore Ravens tie Pro Bowl record with 12 selections
Twelve Baltimore Ravens, including second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson, and seven New Orleans Saints, highlighted by league-leading receiver Michael Thomas, have made the Pro Bowl.
Baltimore tied the record for Pro Bowl players set by Miami in 1973. The NFL released the rosters Tuesday night for the game in Orlando, Florida, on Jan. 26.
Joining Jackson from the Ravens, who at 12-2 have the league’s best record, are tight end Mark Andrews, long snapper Morgan Cox, cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, running back Mark Ingram, linebacker Matthew Judon, fullback Patrick Ricard, tackle Ronnie Stanley, safety Earl Thomas, kicker Justin Tucker, and guard Marshal Yanda.
“This honor is all about my teammates and our coaches, because without them, the success we’ve had as a team wouldn’t be possible,” Jackson said. “I’m also grateful for all the fans who continue to support us and who have helped make this season so special. Ultimately, it’s about winning, and we still have a lot of work to do before we accomplish our biggest goals.”
Thirty teams had at least one player selected and 24 clubs had multiple players chosen. The New York Giants and Miami Dolphins failed to get any Pro Bowlers. Players on the two Super Bowl teams will withdraw from the Pro Bowl and be replaced.
Cole, Yankees finalize record $324M, 9-year contract
NEW YORK (AP) — Gerrit Cole brought along a sign for the news conference to announce his signing with the New York Yankees: a crinkled poster board that read “Yankee Fan Today Tomorrow Forever.”
Then 11, Cole was caught on camera holding up that placard in the seats at Game 6 of the 2001 World Series in Phoenix. The lettering of the tape he used has faded from blue to tan during years in a closet.
Cole spurned the Yankees when they drafted him 28th overall in 2008, choosing to enroll at UCLA. He signed with Pittsburgh three years later after he was selected first overall. Now as a free agent, he finally was fitted for pinstripes, agreeing to a record $324 million, nine-year contract.
“It was my dream. I had a second opportunity to chase it,” he said.
Cole put on a No. 45 jersey, the number that had belonged to first baseman Luke Voit. The 29-year-old right-hander’s beard was newly shorn to comply with Yankees team rules.
“He cleans up nice, doesn’t he?” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Cole had been known for a scruffy look.
“I’ve experienced razor burn now for the first time,” he said.
Cole’s deal is the largest for a pitcher in both its total and its average annual value of $36 million. New York hopes Cole will lead a young corp that includes Aaron Judge, Gary Sánchez and Gleyber Torres to the Yankees’ first title since 2009.
“We need to win some world championships,” owner Hal Steinbrenner. said. “Plural.”