LOS ANGELES – Blake Griffin scored 44 points in his return to Staples Center for the first time against his old team and the Detroit Pistons beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-104 on Saturday to snap a four-game skid.
Griffin was greeted with cheers during pregame introductions and received a standing ovation after a first-quarter video tribute from the team that drafted him first overall in 2009.
He stuck his right arm in the air and then brought his raised hands together in a thankful gesture without smiling. He clearly wanted to beat the team that stunningly traded him last January after he had signed a $171 million, five-year extension.
Griffin scored 15 points in the opening quarter when he got razzed by superfan Clipper Darrell during free throw attempts. He had 26 points in the first half to help Detroit to a 65-54 lead.
His 3-pointer to start the third and a basket by Andre Drummond pushed Detroit to a 16-point lead. Griffin had a one-hand slam reminiscent of his old Lob City days.
Andre Drummond had 20 points and 21 rebounds for the Pistons. Danilo Gallinari led the Clippers with 23 points.
SUNS 102, NUGGETS 93
PHOENIX – Kelly Oubre Jr. matched his career high with 26 points for the second time in three games and Phoenix beat Denver, a victory for the team with the worst record in the Western Conference over the team with the best.
Oubre also tied his career best with 11 rebounds. Deandre Ayton added 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Suns. They have won two of three with Devin Booker sidelined with back spasms.
Nikola Jokic had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets. Denver fell to just a half-game ahead of Golden State for best record in the West.
TIMBERWOLVES 110, PELICANS 106
MINNEAPOLIS – Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and a career-high 27 rebounds to help the Minnesota Timberwolves hold off Anthony Davis and New Orleans.
Towns swished a 3-pointer to make it 106-103 with 2:55 left, giving the Timberwolves the lead for good. Then he blocked a 3-point try by Davis on the other end, triggering a fast break that Tyus Jones finished with a layup.
Davis had 30 points and 14 rebounds for his 13th consecutive double-double. Jrue Holiday added 25 points and seven assists for the Pelicans.
MAGIC 105, CELTICS 103
ORLANDO, Fla. – Aaron Gordon had 28 points and 12 rebounds and Orlando held off Boston.
Jayson Tatum missed a jumper at the buzzer that would have tied it for the Celtics. They charged back from a nine-point deficit in the final 1:43 before losing to the Magic for the second time this season.
Kyrie Irving scored 25 points for the Celtics, 10 of them from the foul line in the final 4:31.
Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and 13 rebounds for Orlando.
THUNDER 122, SPURS 112
OKLAHOMA CITY – Dennis Schroder scored all of his 19 points in the second half to help Oklahoma City beat San Antonio.
Russell Westbrook had 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for Oklahoma City. The Thunder bounced back from a 154-147 loss in double-overtime loss to the Spurs on Thursday night.
Marco Belinelli scored 24 points, and DeMar DeRozan added 18 points for the Spurs. LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 after scoring a career-high 56 points Thursday.
HEAT 112, GRIZZLIES 108
MIAMI – Justise Winslow scored 26 points, Dwyane Wade had a huge blocked shot in the final seconds and Miami beat Memphis.
Wade blocked a potential tying layup by Shelvin Mack, then won a jump ball to help the Heat escape. Wade scored 10 points to help Miami reached the midpoint of the season at 21-20.
JaMychal Green had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Grizzlies.
JAZZ 110, BULLS 102
SALT LAKE CITY – Donovan Mitchell scored 34 points, his third straight game with more than 30, to help Utah pull away from Chicago.
The Bulls trailed only 97-92 before Royce O’Neale and Joe Ingles hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 105-92 with 2:23 remaining.
Ingles, who had 16 points, then waved goodbye as he backpedaled down the court, clinching Utah’s fifth win in its last six games.
Zach LaVine scored 21 points and Lauri Markkanen added 16 for the Bulls, who dropped their seventh straight.
KINGS 104, HORNETS 97
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 22 points, Willie Cauley-Stein had his second straight double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Sacramento beat road-weary Charlotte.
De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield each scored 21 points for the Kings, who improved to 10-3 against Eastern Conference teams this season. The Hornets fell to 2-11 against teams from the West.
Kemba Walker had 31 points despite going 3 for 12 on 3-pointers for the Hornets, who have lost three straight and five of six. Charlotte is 5-15 away from home this season, and is 1-4 on a trip that ends Monday at San Antonio.
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