Los Angeles: Blake Griffin scored 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds on Saturday in a 119-105 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis that spoiled the return of guard Ricky Rubio.
Point guard Chris Paul had 19 points and eight assists for the Clippers. J.J. Redick added 18 points and Luc Mbah a Moute contributed a season-high 15 as half a dozen players scored in double figures for the Clippers, who improved to a league-best 9-1.
"That was good," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of his team's quick start a night after their hard-fought victory over the Thunder in Oklahoma City. The Clippers made 15 of their first 22 shots and led 34-21 after the first quarter.
"I thought our starters came out and performed great. The defensive energy was great," Rivers said. "Luc -- there's nobody in the league right now (who is) a better defensive player than Luc."
He was especially pleased with how the Cameroonian forward teamed defensively with DeAndre Jordan, saying that with both of them on the floor "it makes our defense special".
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 24 points for Minnesota who welcomed Spanish guard Rubio back after he missed five games with a sprained right elbow.
Rubio produced seven points with six assists and six rebounds but the Timberwolves never led after the first quarter.
Griffin surpassed 9,000 career points in the game, the 420th of his NBA career.
Griffin became the fastest player to reach 9,000 points, 4,000 rebounds and 1,500 assists since Larry Bird accomplished the feat in 398 matches.
"He's a great scorer," Rivers said. "But he's such an unselfish scorer it makes our team better."
The Timberwolves face another Los Angeles test on Sunday when they host the Lakers, who powered past the Pelicans in New Orleans 126-99 on Saturday.
Jordan Clarkson scored 23 points, D'Angelo Russell added 22 and Lou Williams contributed 21 as the Lakers won for the fifth time in six games.
Spurs shoot down Rockets
In Houston, scoring bursts from Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili helped the Spurs to a 106-100 victory over the Rockets, who were playing just their second home game of the season after opening with seven of eight on the road.
Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge notched a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, point guard Tony Parker added 16 points and center Pau Gasol contributed 15.
Leonard started strong en route to 20 points total, keying an 18-4 scoring run in the first quarter that rattled the Rockets.
Ginobili finished with 12 points, eight of them in a vital third-quarter stretch after the Rockets had trimmed a 15-point deficit to 69-63 and the Spurs withstood James Harden's triple-double of 25 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists.
The Boston Celtics handed the Indiana Pacers their first home defeat of the season, 105-99 in Indianapolis.
Isaiah Thomas made just four of 13 shots from the field, but he came through when the Celtics really needed him, scoring 12 of his 23 points in the final five minutes.
"This is what the game is all about -- the fourth quarter," Celtics guard Avery Bradley said. "Isaiah did a lot for our team tonight, even though he was not shooting well. He created shots for other players and helped out by just penetrating and collapsing the defense."
The Pacers were without star Paul George, who sprained his left ankle in an overtime loss at Philadelphia on Friday.
"It was frustrating, especially at home against a good team," George said of having to watch the Pacers' home win streak end from the sideline. "I just thought we were real stagnant on offense."
DeRozan pours in 33 as Raptors hold off Knicks
DeMar DeRozan scored 33 points and added seven rebounds and four assists as the Raptors defeated the New York Knicks 118-107 in a back-and-forth battle in Toronto on Saturday.
With less than 30 seconds left DeRozan made a three-point play on a layup and a free throw to lift the hosts to a seven-point lead in a game that had seen 27 lead changes and 20 ties.
Norman Powell scored 19 points and Kyle Lowry added 16 for the Raptors, who have won two straight.
Carmelo Anthony led New York with 31 points while Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis chipped in 21 apiece.
Joakim Noah added four points and 18 rebounds for the Knicks, who were trying to bounce back from a 28-point defeat on Friday in Boston -- where six technical fouls handed out to New York players included two to Anthony that saw him ejected from the game.
"There's going to be nights you get bad calls and you've just got to go on fighting and playing, battle through it," Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said of the testy affair in Boston.
"Maybe we let it get to us too much (Friday) night. We brought it up. But not making it a prolonged thing, just mentioning, 'Hey, we've got to keep our heads and not worry about it and get through there.'"
Anthony started as if he wanted to put the memory of Friday out of his mind, scoring 10 points in the first quarter as New York took a 28-24 lead.
He scored the Knicks' last seven points of the opening half, draining a long jump shot at the halftime buzzer to put them up 56-53.
Two free throws from DeRozan with 6:08 remaining in the third tied the game at 72-72 and the Raptors were up 87-85 after three.
It was the eighth time in nine games this season DeRozan scored at least 30 points.
"He's playing at an all-star level," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "Converting, getting bumped, getting hit, still finishing the play."
DeRozan said he's just trying to hone his skills.
"I always try to find ways I can be better mentally, physically and skill-wise," DeRozan said. "I always try to find something in the off-season and during the season as well."
The Knicks scored the first four points of the fourth frame, but Toronto regained a two-point lead on a pair of three-pointers by Patrick Patterson.
Porzingis hit a three-point shot to cut the lead to one point with 6:29 left to play as the game stayed tight until the Raptors pulled away in the last minute.
"We had a chance, that's what you want on the road," Hornacek said. "We just didn't get the stops and we fouled too much... we've just got to get better defensively."