NBA: Timberwolves fall to Rockets after Jimmy Butler is carried off court


James Harden scored 31 points and the Houston Rockets won their 11th consecutive game with a 120-102 victory Friday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who lost All-Star Jimmy Butler to an apparent right knee injury.

Butler left the game late in the third quarter. After grabbing a rebound, he pivoted and planted hard on his right foot before collapsing and grabbing his right knee. He was on the floor for about three minutes before he was carried off the court by two teammates.

Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said early evaluations by the team’s medical staff were inconclusive and that Butler will undergo an MRI exam on Saturday.


“You’ve got to wait for the doctors to do their thing,” Thibodeau said. “Until they do the MRI, it’s speculating. We’ll know more tomorrow. I don’t want to speculate on what it might be, but we’ll just hope for the best.”

Butler did not speak to reporters after the game but was in high spirits, according to multiple teammates. He was visited in the training room by Harden.

“His first reaction was, ‘I’m OK, I’ll be OK,’” Wolves forward Taj Gibson said. “But he was smiling. That was a big thing and it was a huge relief for everybody in this locker room. He’s a warrior so we’ve just got to hold it down for him.”

Clint Capela had 25 points and 11 rebounds for Houston, getting his 10th double-double over the past 13 games. Chris Paul added 14 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) is fouled on his shot attempt by Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
(Michael Wyke / AP )

The Rockets trailed for much of the first half before going ahead to maintain the NBA’s best record.


Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota with 21 points, and Jeff Teague and Karl-Anthony Towns both had 18 points. Towns added 13 rebounds.

Cleveland 112, at Memphis 89: LeBron James had 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in his 11th triple-double of the season, and the Cavaliers pulled away after a slow start.

George Hill also scored 18 points, while Larry Nance Jr. finished with 15 and Jordan Clarkson had 14 as the newcomers had good nights in the Cavaliers’ fifth win in the last six games. Tyreke Evans and JaMychal Green each had 15 points for Memphis, with Evans also dishing out 10 assists and Green grabbing 10 rebounds. Marc Gasol had 14 points and nine rebounds.

at New Orleans 124, Miami 123 ( OT ): Anthony Davis had 45 points, 17 rebounds, five blocked shots and five steals to lead the Pelicans to their fourth consecutive victory.

Goran Dragic scored 30 points and Dwyane Wade made two runners to give the Heat the lead twice in the last 36 seconds of overtime, but Davis responded to the first with a layup as he was fouled, and Jrue Holiday answered the second with a runner in the lane with 7 seconds left.

Wade had one last shot for the win with Holiday defending him closely. It bounced off the rim to Josh Richardson, whose rushed put-back missed the basket as time expired in Miami’s third straight loss. Holiday finished with 29 points and nine assists, connecting with Davis on a couple of alley-oop dunks.

at Denver 122, San Antonio 119: Nikola Jokic had 28 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for the Nuggers while Wilson Chandler contributed 18 points and a season-high 16 rebounds. Jokic has a triple-double in three straight games and six this season, but didn’t stick around for the finish. He was called for five fouls in the fourth quarter and fouled out on a charge with 1:46 left.

Gary Harris scored 23 points to help Denver win its fourth straight and seventh in its last eight. LaMarcus Aldridge had 36 points and Patty Mills scored 20 for San Antonio.

Portland 100, at Utah 81: CJ McCollum scored 26 points, Damian Lillard added 24 and the Trail Blazers snapped Jazz’s 11-game winning streak. Utah pulled to within single digits at 90-81, but McCollum scored on three consecutive isolation plays, all contested jumpers.

Jusuf Nurkic scored 15 points and Al-Farouq Aminu had 12 for the Blazers. Donovan Mitchell scored 21 points for Utah, and Rudy Gobert had 15.

Milwaukee 122, at Toronto 119 (OT): Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points and 12 rebounds as the Bucks snapped the Raptors’ seven-game winning streak.

Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton each scored 21 points as the Bucks won the opener of an eight-game stretch against teams in playoff contention. Jason Terry scored 14 points, and John Henson and Thon Maker each had 12.

DeMar DeRozan scored 33 points for the Raptors, who had won five straight home meetings with the Bucks. Serge Ibaka had 18 points, and Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam each scored 17.

Boston 110, at Detroit 98: Kyrie Irving scored 18 points and rookie Daniel Theis added a career-high 19 to lift the Celtics past the Pistons.

Jayson Tatum scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half for the Celtics, who went into the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak but returned with a solid win on the road. Boston took control by outscoring the Pistons 38-21 in the second quarter. Blake Griffin scored 17 points for Detroit but shot just 5 of 19 from the field.

Charlotte 122, at Washington 105: Frank Kaminsky scored a season-high 25 points while Kemba Walker had 20 of his 24 points in the second half to lead the Hornets to victory.

Charlotte (26-33) improved to 3-0 against Washington this season. Charlotte jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first half and matched its season high with 17 three-pointers in its third consecutive win. Marvin Williams scored 15 points, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 14.

at Indiana 116, Atlanta 93: Thaddeus Young scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half and the Pacers never trailed in a rout of the hapless Hawks. The 11th-year pro had 10 points by the end of the opening quarter and the Pacers led by 17 by halftime. They were ahead 83-66 entering the final quarter.

The Pacers (34-25) won their fourth in a row and improved to 15-6 since Jan. 6, the league’s best winning percentage (.714) in that span. The Hawks (18-42), who have the NBA’s worst record, are 5-25 on the road and have dropped three in a row overall.