NBA

Rozier helps Celtics down Cavs, Isaiah Thomas gets standing ovation from Boston crowd

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Terry Rozier scored 20 points off the Boston bench to lead six double-figure scorers Wednesday and the Celtics routed visiting Cleveland 102-88 in an NBA Eastern Conference showdown.

Jayson Tatum and reserve Marcus Smart each scored 15 points, Jaylen Brown added 14 points and Kyrie Irving and Al Horford each contributed 11 and nine rebounds as the East-leading Celtics improved to 31-10.

“That shows what type of team we are,” Rozier said of the Celtics’ scoring depth. “From day one we’ve always had that next man up mentality and we’ve kept it going.

“We just want to build from this and keep going.”

LeBron James led the Cavaliers with 19 points and added seven rebounds and six assists but Cleveland fell to 25-13, third in the East, behind Boston and Toronto.

Cavaliers big man Kevin Love injured his right ankle late in the second quarter and managed only two points on 1-of-11 shooting.

Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas sat out a night after making his season debut for the Cavs, missing more than two months with a hip injury after being traded from the Celtics in a deal that sent Irving to Boston.

Thomas exchanged hugs and smiles with his former team-mates before and after the game and when he was shown on the scoreboard videoscreen, Boston fans responded with a standing ovation. Ex-Celtics forward Jae Crowder received one as well.

“It’s always great going against your former team-mates,” Rozier said. “Those guys are great. I played two good years with them. Always great catching up.”

DeMar DeRozan scored 35 points to power the Toronto Raptors (26-10) to a 124-115 victory at Chicago while Greek standout Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points and 10 rebounds in Milwaukee’s 122-101 home romp over Indiana.

Stephen Curry scored 32 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds remaining, and reigning champion Golden State improved to an NBA-best 30-8 with a 125-122 triumph at Dallas.

Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson each added 25 points for the Warriors. Durant had 11 rebounds while Draymond Green contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds.

The Houston Rockets, playing without guard James Harden due to a hamstring injury, had 27 points off the bench from Gerald Green and 21 more from Clint Capela in a 116-98 romp at Orlando.

Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson each scored 17 points for the Rockets (27-9), who had 13 assists from Chris Paul and never trailed. Aaron Gordon led the Magic with 16 points.

Bradley Beal scored 27 points while John Wall added 25 and nine assists in Washington’s 121-103 home rout of New York. Poland’s Marcin Gortat added 21 for the Wizards while reserve Michael Beasley led New York with 20 points.

Australian guard Ben Simmons scored 26 points while Joel Embiid shook off a right hand injury to produce 21 points and 11 rebounds in Philadelphia’s 112-106 home victory over San Antonio.

Aussie reserve guard Patty Mills scored 26 points to lead the Spurs, who rested star guards Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker plus Kawhi Leonard. LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points and 14 rebounds in a losing cause.

Canadian Kelly Olynyk had 25 points and 13 rebounds while Slovenian Goran Dragic added 24 points and 13 assists to lead Miami over visiting Detroit 111-104. Tobias Harris had 19 to lead six double-figure scorers for the Pistons.

Spencer Dinwiddie, who scored 26 points and passed off nine assists, sank the winning jumper with nine seconds remaining to give Brooklyn a 98-97 victory over Minnesota. Jimmy Butler led the visiting Timberwolves with 30 points but missed a decisive jumper at the final buzzer.

Anthony Davis scored 29 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to spark New Orleans to a 108-98 victory at Utah while Gary Harris scored 36 points off 14-of-17 shooting to power Denver over visiting Phoenix 134-111.

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Kobe Bryant's jersey numbers retired in ceremony as Magic Johnson hails him as greatest Laker ever

Sport360 staff 19/12/2017
Kobe Bryant poses with his family after both his jerseys are retired at Staples Center.

Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant was hailed as the "greatest" Los Angeles Laker of all on Monday by fellow legend Magic Johnson in a ceremony to retire Bryant's jersey numbers.

The tribute came at half-time of the Lakers' Staples Center matchup against the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, with Bryant's Numbers 8 and 24 joining other inspirational Laker icons from the team's 70-year history.

"We're here to celebrate the greatest to ever wear the purple and gold. He made us rub our eyes and wonder what did we just see," said Johnson, now Lakers president of basketball operations. "There will never, ever be another Kobe Bryant."

Bryant played 10 seasons in each retired number, winning three titles in the single-digit uniform top and two in the higher number jersey. "Thank you so much for tonight," Bryant told the crowd, which chanted his name while giving him a standing ovation. It's not about my jerseys that are hanging up there for me. It's about the jerseys that were hanging up there before." Many of the team's past legends were on hand to welcome Bryant, who retired after the 2015-16 campaign as an 18-time All-Star, a 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA Finals MVP, two-time NBA scoring champion and two-time Olympic champion. Bryant, 39, said fans inspired him to put in the work every day that became his trademark over two decades with the Lakers, an unprecedented feat. "Those times are the dream," Bryant said. "It's not the destination. It's the journey. If you accomplish that, your dreams won't come true -- something greater will." With a nod to his "Black Mamba" nickname, Bryant closed his remarks with, "Mamba out." With his family on hand to watch, Bryant was honored with the mention of such career highlights as his career-high 81-point game in a 2006 victory over Toronto, the second-highest point total in any game in NBA history. Also acknowledged was his final game, when he became the oldest player in NBA history to score 60 points, hitting the mark on the number in his farewell victory over Utah. "There will never be an athlete in his last performance to top this man's performance -- 60 points. Man," Johnson said. The most emotional moment came when Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, who has helped keep the Lakers heritage together, paid tribute to Bryant. "What we're celebrating is the journey you took us on for those 20 years," Buss said. "If you separate the accomplishments of each of those jerseys, both of those players would be in the Hall of Fame. "We asked for your hustle and you gave us your heart which was so much more. You have forever made your mark on this franchise."

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LeBron James gets ejected for first time in his career but Cavs still down Heat

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There's a first time for everything.

LeBron James was ejected for the first time in his NBA career on Tuesday, but it didn’t stop his Cleveland Cavaliers from marching to a 108-97 home win against the Miami Heat.

James was angered at the lack of a foul call on a drive to the basket on which he came up empty.

Shouting, he made a beeline for referee Kane Fitzgerald, who quickly whistled the superstar for a technical foul and then pointed to the exit with 1:59 remaining in the third quarter.

It was the first time James was ejected in 1,082 career regular-season games.

“I got fouled,” James said. “I showed my frustration to the ref and he sent me to the locker room.”

James, who had stripped the ball from Miami’s James Johnson at the other end, said he was “fouled all the way up the court, from the time that I stripped him all the way til I got to the rim.

“I said what I had to say and I moved on but (Fitzgerald) decided I should get two (technical fouls).

“It is what it is,” added James, who scored 21 points with 12 rebounds, six assists and five steals. “We got the win and that’s the most important.”

The Cavs were leading 93-70 at the time, and the absence of James for the final period didn’t stop the Eastern Conference champions from notching a ninth victory in a row.

Kevin Love scored a season-high 38 points for the Cavaliers and Dwyane Wade added 17 off the bench against his former team.

Cleveland led by as many as 34 points and now have their longest regular-season winning streak since January 15-February 5 of 2015.

Love added nine rebounds and connected on 14 of his 17 free-throws. Cleveland seized control of the contest with 75 points in the first half — 32 of them from Love. Dion Waiters led the Heat with 21 points and Bam Adebayo scored 19.

The game marked the first time that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra went up against his former Miami stars James and Wade at the same time.

He coached Heat teams led by James and Wade to four straight NBA Finals appearances from 2011-2014, winning titles in 2012 and 2013.

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