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Miami Heat’s Max Strus sprains knee, avoids major injury

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MIAMI — Max Strus expects to be sidelined for maybe just a couple weeks. Given how badly he initially feared his left knee was injured, that’s a major win for the Miami Heat guard.

The Heat diagnosed Strus’ injury as a sprain Monday, learning he did not sustain major structural damage. Strus got hurt in the final minutes of Miami’s win at Memphis on Saturday night, landing awkwardly on a play where he tried to score at the rim.

He immediately left the game and went to the Heat locker room for further evaluation. There was concern that it was something serious.

“But luckily we’re good,” Strus said Monday in Dallas, where the Heat will play Tuesday night. “So, we got good news out of it and we’ll just see where we go from there. I’ll rehab it and get stronger.”

Strus is averaging six points and 2.7 rebounds this season, coming off the bench in all six games for the Heat. He’s been playing about 17 minutes per contest, and his nine made 3-pointers this season are third-best for Miami behind Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, both of whom have made 17.

“You feel for Max, but thankfully it’s just going to be short-term,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’ll get healthy and we’ll go from there.”

Strus said he knew he hadn’t landed the right way, but by Monday, said the pain related to the sprain was down to more of an ache. There is no definitive timetable for his return, but Strus said he’s hoping to keep his absence to no more than a couple weeks.

“There was a lot of anxiety,” Strus said. “It was tough to sleep the night before. But the training staff did a great job of getting me in as soon as they can to get the MRI. As soon as I heard those results, it was just a breath of fresh air. I’m happy with how everything turned out.”

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Phoenix Suns set franchise record with 18th straight win

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Even with history looming as his team approached a franchise record win streak, Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams said he tried not to bring it up to his team.

But after a 114-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons set a new franchise mark with 18 consecutive wins, Williams allowed himself time to reflect.

“But it is really cool to be a part of something like that,” Williams said following Thursday’s win. “To win like this, the way we’ve won, guys out of the rotation, losing [Devin Booker], the relentless attitude of our team, the way we stick together, it makes it really cool.

“Obviously it’s hard to win in this league. But we’re not satisfied. We talk about stretching it out but it takes the right things to do that. So we’ve taken it one game at a time.”

The 18th win topped the previous franchise mark of 17 set by the 2006-07 Suns who went on to finish 61-21. The streak also ties the 2019 Bucks for the longest win streak of any NBA team in the last five seasons. The longest streak in NBA history belongs to the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who won 33 straight games.

Suns players tried to downplay how much they thought about the streak on a day-to-day basis.

“It feels good but at the same time, I don’t know, I guess it feels good but we got another tomorrow,” Cameron Payne said. “We have to keep going. It’s 1-0 today. That’s how I feel.”

Suns point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 12 points and 12 assists, said it was a nice piece of history for the team but the focus remains on the bigger picture.

“But for us I think it’s always about the feeling of making sure we’re playing the game the right way,” Paul said. “We always talk about we have a standard. We say this every night and a win is a win but we feel like we could have played better.”

Phoenix was without their leading scorer in Booker, who missed the game with a hamstring injury. Without him, Phoenix focused on a more balanced scoring effort with seven players in double figures. Payne and reserve forward Cameron Johnson led the way with 19 points each off the bench.

“We have guys that can score the ball across all the lineups,” Johnson said. “Book puts a lot of points up on the board every night. We’re a team that we’re going to find buckets other ways when we need to and that’s what we did tonight.”

Phoenix, who picked up win No. 17 against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, play the Warriors again Friday night on ESPN — a matchup Johnson is looking forward to.

“A team that we just played and beat at home, we get to go to their place, a division game. It’s a lot on the line,” Johnson said. “This is what playing in the NBA is about. Going into these environments with these implications. Granted it’s a December game, but it means a lot. It means a lot to us to continue this streak. It’s gonna be a fun one.”

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Memphis Grizzlies set NBA record after beating Oklahoma City Thunder by 73 points

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Grizzlies broke the NBA record for margin of victory on Thursday night, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 152-79.

The 73-point margin easily topped the previous mark, which was Cleveland’s 68-point win over Miami. The Cavaliers topped the Heat 148-80 on Dec. 17, 1991.

“Tonight is not necessarily who we are,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “I think we’ve definitely shown that from a competitive standpoint. This isn’t indicative of who our team is.”

Memphis used 12 players and nine of them reached double figures in scoring, with Jaren Jackson Jr.’s 27 points leading the way. Memphis was without its best player, injured guard Ja Morant.

It was 72-36 at halftime, and the Grizzlies just kept adding to the lead, eventually pulling ahead by as many as 78 — the largest lead in any game since at least 1996-97.

The Thunder flirted with being on the wrong end of the record last season, trailing Indiana by 67 points on May 1 before rallying — such as it was — to lose by merely 57 points, 152-95.

This was worse. Historically worse.

The Grizzlies set a franchise record for shooting, making 62.5% of their shots. De’Anthony Melton scored 19 points, Santi Aldama scored 18 and John Konchar scored 17 for the Grizzlies, and none of those three players even started.

“Man, it feels great. It feels great to be in the history books, especially in front of our home crowd,” Melton said. “And we did it one through 15. Everybody contributed, everybody played hard and we all got to get in the game. So, it’s always a blessing.

“We knew with [Morant] going down what we had to do. We had to step up.”

No Memphis starter played more than 21 minutes. The Grizzlies’ bench contributed 93 points, outscoring Oklahoma City’s entire team by 14 points.

Lu Dort led the Thunder with 15 points, and Oklahoma City shot only 33%.

It was 12-8 after five minutes. From there, there was no stopping Memphis. The Grizzlies outscored the Thunder by 15 points in each of the four quarters.

It was the third straight game the Grizzlies have led from start to finish. The Thunder lost their eighth straight as they continued to play short-handed with a number of players unavailable, including leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who entered concussion protocol earlier Thursday.

Gilgeous-Alexander scored 39 points against the Rockets on Wednesday night but suffered a blow to the head late in the game. Point guard Josh Giddey, who averages 10.4 points and 5.5 assists, sat out with a non-COVID-19 illness, and the remaining players couldn’t fill the void in Oklahoma City’s offense.

The Thunder had been competitive in their seven straight losses before Thursday night. Their largest margin of defeat was 13 points.

“When you compete, you have exposure to the highs and lows of competition,” Daigneault said. “And competition comes with great joy, and it also comes with grief and frustration and anger. And when you step in that ring, that’s what you expose yourself to is all of those things.

“It’s why the joy feels so good, because when you get punched and you taste your own blood, it doesn’t feel right.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.

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Thunder vs. Grizzlies – Game Summary – December 2, 2021

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