Chris Paul scores 29, Clippers beat Pacers 99-91

Chris Paul scored 29 points, and Blake Griffin finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds to help the Los Angeles Clippers hold off Indiana’s late charge for a 99-91 victory Thursday.

The Clippers (42-18) have won three straight and seven of their past eight.

David West led the Pacers (36-22) with 22 points, while All-Star Paul George had 20 points and five assists. Danny Granger finished with a season-high 12 points.

But without the suspended Roy Hibbert, the Pacers barely resembled the team that had won five straight by an average margin of 23.8 points.

Instead, Indiana had the lead only once in the first half and only three times in the third quarter – never by more than two points.

And each time Indiana appeared to be on the verge of taking control, the Clippers answered the challenge.

In the second quarter, Los Angeles went on a 13-3 spurt that allowed it to dictate the rest of the half. Indiana’s late charge cut the halftime deficit to 49-47.

When Indiana took its first lead of the second half, the Clippers scored five straight and after trading leads three times amid a flurry of dunks shortly after, the Clippers finally took charge with another 13-3 run that gave them a 76-69 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

— Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

Dennis Rodman, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hang out at Harlem Globetrotters game

Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman hung out Thursday with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on the third day of his improbable journey with VICE to Pyongyang, watching the Harlem Globetrotters with the leader and later dining on sushi and drinking with him at his palace.

“You have a friend for life,” Rodman told Kim before a crowd of thousands at a gymnasium where they sat side by side, chatting as they watched players from North Korea and the U.S. play, Alex Detrick, a spokesman for the New York-based VICE media company, told The Associated Press.

Rodman arrived in Pyongyang on Monday with three members of the professional Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy and a production crew to shoot an episode on North Korea for a new weekly HBO series.

The unlikely encounter makes Rodman the most high-profile American to meet Kim since the young North Korean leader took power in December 2011, and takes place against a backdrop of tension between Washington and Pyongyang. North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test just two weeks ago, making clear the provocative act was a warning to the United States to drop what it considers a “hostile” policy toward the North.

Kim, a diehard basketball fan, told the former Chicago Bulls star he hoped the visit would break the ice between the United States and North Korea, VICE founder Shane Smith said.

— Reported by the Associated Press

Metta World Peace retroactively given flagrant foul

ron artest

The NBA has retroactively given Metta World Peace a flagrant foul for a play in Denver against the Nuggets on Monday.

In the final seconds of the third quarter, World Peace connected with an elbow to what looks like the face of Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried. No foul was called live by the officials (which would have meant an ejection), but the league upgraded the call on review.

World Peace now leads the league in flagrant foul points with five, tied with teammate Dwight Howard.

— Reported by Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times (Blog)

Banged-up Lin, Harden miss Rockets practice

James Harden

Guards Jeremy Lin and James Harden sat out Thursday’s practice, and Rockets coach Kevin McHale said he had “no idea” if they will be able to play in Orlando on Friday. McHale said both were “banged up.”

Harden knocked knees with Milwaukee’s Monta Ellis on Wednesday, but after a time out remained in the game. Lin turned his right ankle, but also played his usual minutes. Lin went through post-practice shooting drills, offering an indication he would be able to play.

— Reported by  Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle

Michael Jordan buys new $2.8M Charlotte-area home

michael jordan

Bobcats owner Michael Jordan has bought his second Charlotte area property in three years – this time on the shores of Lake Norman.

First Community Bank sold the 12,310-square-foot home in the Peninsula Club in Cornelius to The Jordan Family Gift Trust for $2.8 million, according to property records. It closed Feb. 19 after more than 460 days on the market.

In 2010, the former University of North Carolina star and six-time NBA champion invested $3.15 million in two combined top-floor penthouses at The Trust condos in uptown Charlotte.

Jordan also recently built a $12.4 million mansion with 11 bedrooms and 28,000 square feet on a 3-acre property in Jupiter, Fla., according to the Chicago Tribune.

— Reported by Elisabeth Arriero of the Charlotte Observer

Nets re-assign Tornike Shengelia to D-League

The Brooklyn Nets have re-assigned forward Tornike Shengelia to the Springfield Armor of the NBA Development League, it was announced today by General Manager Billy King.

This will be the third time this season Shengelia has been assigned to the Armor. In his three appearances, the 6’8’’ Georgia native is averaging 28.3 points, 13.7 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 3.0 steals and 1.7 blocks on 64.6% shooting. Shengelia recorded a triple-double in his NBA D-League debut 12/21 vs. Erie, and followed that showing with a 39-point outburst 1/24 vs. Maine, tied for the second-most points scored in the NBA D-League this season on 17 field goals (league-best).

Shengelia, acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers after being drafted 54th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, has appeared in 13 games for the Nets this season, averaging 1.4 points, 1.0 assists and 0.7 rebounds per game.

Shengelia will be in uniform when the Armor take on the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Friday March 1st at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne.

Spurs recall Cory Joseph, assign Aron Baynes to D-League

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have recalled guard Cory Joseph from the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League. The team also announced that it has assigned center Aron Baynes to the Toros.

Joseph has appeared in 26 games in five stints with the Toros this season, averaging a team-high 19.4 points, 5.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.92 steals in 38.5 minutes, while shooting .458 (175-382) from the field, .479 (35-73) from three-point range and .804 (119-148) from the free throw line. The University of Texas product ranks fourth in the D-League in both points and steals while ranking second in three-point field goal percentage.

Joseph has appeared in 10 games this season for the Spurs, averaging 1.9 points, 1.3 assists and 1.0 rebounds in 6.8 minutes.

This will mark Baynes’ second stint with the Toros this season. Assigned to Austin on Feb. 1, the Australian native played in two games and averaged 18.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in 27.5 minutes.

Baynes has appeared in eight games with the Spurs this season, averaging 1.9 points and 1.6 rebounds in 5.6 minutes.

Stephen Curry scores 54 points in Warriors 109-105 loss to Knicks

Stephen Curry scores 54 points

Stephen Curry rose for another jumper, and by then even the Knicks probably figured it would go in.

Curry had hardly missed in a scintillating second half of the NBA’s most electric performance this season, the crowd cheering even before the ball left his hands.

This time, Raymond Felton jumped with him, making the play New York needed to finally withstand Curry.

Felton’s blocked shot led to J.R. Smith’s tiebreaking basket with 1:10 left, and the Knicks overcame Curry’s NBA season-high 54 points to beat the Golden State Warriors 109-105 on Wednesday night.

Curry was 18 of 28 from the field, finishing one shy of the NBA record with 11 3-pointers in 13 attempts, in a performance that had the crowd hanging on his every shot. But the Knicks and Felton finally stopped him with 1:28 to play and the score tied at 105…

Carmelo Anthony followed Smith’s basket with another one and the Knicks hung on to spoil former Knicks star and Warriors coach Mark Jackson’s homecoming.

Anthony finished with 35 points and Smith had 26…

Playing all 48 minutes, Curry finished with seven assists and six rebounds while passing his previous career best of 42 points, and Kevin Durant’s 52-point performance that had been the best in the NBA this season.

”I felt good all night. Obviously played the whole game, so was just trying to keep my legs underneath me on the offensive end, and you know, just stick to the game on the defensive end,” Curry said. ”Once I started seeing that 3-ball go down in transition, all sorts of spots on the floor, I knew it was going to be a good night.”

But he had little help without All-Star forward David Lee, who was suspended one game for his role in an altercation Tuesday night in Indiana.

Tyson Chandler had 16 points and a career-best 28 rebounds for the Knicks, who won their second straight after a season-high, four-game losing streak. Amare Stoudemire had 14 points and Anthony added eight assists on the day the Knicks learned they could be without reserve forward Rasheed Wallace for the rest of the season because he needs surgery to repair a broken bone in his left foot.

— Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Suns end Spurs 18-game home winning streak

jermaine o'neal

After a 25-day, nine-game road trip, the San Antonio Spurs were glad to be back in their own building, relaxed and ready to add to their 18-game home winning streak.

Maybe too relaxed.

Jermaine O’Neal had 22 points and 13 rebounds, Wesley Johnson hit a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to force overtime and the Phoenix Suns rallied to upend San Antonio 105-101, stunning a raucous crowd that had begun celebrating midway through the third quarter only to exit in silence.

Tony Parker had 22 points to lead San Antonio, which had not lost at home since Nov. 19 against the Los Angeles Clippers. Tim Duncan had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and DeJuan Blair and Kawhi Leonard added 15 points apiece.

Luis Scola added 15 points and Goran Dragic had 13 points and 13 assists for Phoenix, which snapped a six-game losing streak against the Spurs…

Trailing by 11 points with 11:29 left in the game, the Suns rallied behind O’Neal. The veteran center had 13 points and five rebounds as Phoenix (20-39) outscored San Antonio 33-23 in the fourth…

Dragic and reigning MVP LeBron James of Miami are the only players leading their team in points, assists, steals and free throw attempts.

— Reported by the Associated Press

Celtics sign D.J. White to 10-day contract

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed forward D.J. White to a 10-day contract.

White, a 6’9” forward, appeared in 32 games for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association this season averaging 21.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 33.0 minutes per game. White has posted career averages of 6.3 points and 3.4 rebounds in 16.2 minutes in 124 games split between Charlotte and Oklahoma City. White was originally drafted by the Detroit Pistons with the 29th pick in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft.