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James returns to lead Heat

DENVER — LeBron James returned from a groin injury to score 26 points on his birthday and the Heat beat the skidding Nuggets 97-94 Monday despite losing Dwyane Wade and Norris Cole during the game.

James, who turned 29, injured his groin Friday against the Kings. He sat out Saturday against the Trail Blazers

Ty Lawson had 26 for Denver, which lost its seventh straight.

Cole left in the third quarter after falling at the end of a driving layup attempt and hitting his face on the floor. Wade who didn't return after halftime because of back spasms.

Game highlights: John Wall scored 29 and the Wizards rallied past the host Pistons to win 106-99. Wall has 20-plus points in seven straight games, the longest streak of his career. … Shawn Marion scored 32 to help the Mavericks outlast the host Timberwolves 100-98. Marion topped 30 for the first time since 2008-09. Minnesota's Kevin Love had 36 points and 11 rebounds, his third effort of at least 35-10 this season.

Parker apologizes for gesture: Spurs guard Tony Parker apologized for making a gesture with anti-Semitic connotations in a photo he said was taken three years ago. The gesture is known in France as a "quenelle." Critics describe it as an inverted Nazi salute. Parker, born in Belgium and raised in France, said he didn't know it could be offensive.

Around the league: Hawks center and ex-Gator Al Horford, Atlanta's leading scorer (18.6) and rebounder (8.4), was scheduled to have season-ending surgery today to repair his torn right pectoral muscle.

PLAYER IN CHAMbeRLAIN TRADE DIES: Connie Dierking, a former University of Cincinnati star and a 10-year NBA player who was part of the trade that brought Wilt Chamberlain to Philadelphia, died Sunday at 77. No details were released. The 6-foot-10 center was a 1958 first-round draft pick of the Syracuse Nationals, who became the 76ers. In 1965 he was among three players traded to San Francisco for Chamberlain, who helped the 76ers build an NBA champion.

Pelicans 110, Blazers 108

PORTLAND (108): Batum 3-9 1-2 8, Aldridge 13-25 2-3 28, Lopez 1-3 5-6 7, Lillard 10-18 4-5 29, Matthews 6-13 3-4 18, Williams 3-9 0-0 8, Freeland 2-5 0-0 4, Wright 1-5 3-4 6, Leonard 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 39-88 18-24 108.

NEW ORLEANS (110): Aminu 4-8 1-1 9, Anderson 5-11 2-2 13, Davis 13-19 1-4 27, Holiday 14-28 2-2 31, Morrow 1-3 0-0 2, Evans 9-15 2-2 20, Roberts 1-4 2-2 4, Ajinca 0-0 0-0 0, Rivers 1-1 2-2 4, Stiemsma 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 48-89 12-15 110.

Portland 21 28 33 26— 108

New Orleans 26 30 33 21— 110

3-Point GoalsPortland 12-32 (Lillard 5-8, Matthews 3-8, Williams 2-5, Wright 1-4, Batum 1-7), New Orleans 2-11 (Holiday 1-2, Anderson 1-5, Evans 0-1, Roberts 0-1, Aminu 0-1, Morrow 0-1). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsPortland 47 (Aldridge 8), New Orleans 52 (Aminu 15). AssistsPortland 25 (Batum 6), New Orleans 19 (Holiday 13). Total FoulsPortland 13, New Orleans 19. TechnicalsNew Orleans defensive three second. A17,035 (17,188).

Mavericks 100, Wolves 98

DALLAS (100): Marion 14-19 0-0 32, Nowitzki 7-17 2-3 16, Dalembert 3-3 3-4 9, Calderon 3-7 0-0 8, Ellis 3-14 3-3 9, Carter 2-9 2-2 6, Wright 6-8 2-2 14, Crowder 0-4 0-0 0, Blair 3-3 0-0 6, Larkin 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 41-86 12-14 100.

MINNESOTA (98): Brewer 7-12 0-0 16, Love 14-24 6-8 36, Pekovic 6-13 6-6 18, Rubio 1-3 2-2 4, Martin 6-15 6-7 19, Shved 0-3 0-0 0, Mbah a Moute 0-1 0-0 0, Cunningham 0-2 0-0 0, Barea 2-4 0-0 5, Hummel 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 36-79 20-23 98.

Dallas 29 33 19 19— 100

Minnesota 23 20 38 17— 98

3-Point GoalsDallas 6-24 (Marion 4-6, Calderon 2-4, Larkin 0-1, Crowder 0-2, Ellis 0-3, Carter 0-4, Nowitzki 0-4), Minnesota 6-23 (Brewer 2-5, Love 2-7, Barea 1-3, Martin 1-3, Shved 0-1, Mbah a Moute 0-1, Rubio 0-1, Hummel 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsDallas 42 (Dalembert 7), Minnesota 51 (Love 11). AssistsDallas 33 (Ellis 10), Minnesota 22 (Rubio 13). Total FoulsDallas 20, Minnesota 15. TechnicalsEllis, Minnesota defensive three second.

Bulls 95, Grizzlies 91

CHICAGO (95): Dunleavy 2-5 3-3 7, Boozer 9-16 3-4 21, Noah 2-9 4-5 8, Hinrich 1-3 3-6 6, Butler 6-10 12-14 26, Gibson 3-7 3-4 9, Snell 3-5 1-2 8, Augustin 2-8 4-4 10, Mohammed 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 28-65 33-42 95.

MEMPHIS (91): Prince 1-2 1-2 3, Randolph 4-15 2-2 10, Koufos 6-8 0-0 12, Conley 9-19 8-10 26, Allen 5-7 3-4 13, Davis 3-4 2-4 8, Johnson 4-13 5-6 13, Bayless 2-5 0-0 4, Miller 1-2 0-0 2, Leuer 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 35-78 21-28 91.

Chicago 17 29 25 24— 95

Memphis 22 22 20 27— 91

3-Point GoalsChicago 6-15 (Butler 2-3, Augustin 2-7, Hinrich 1-1, Snell 1-2, Dunleavy 0-2), Memphis 0-5 (Miller 0-1, Johnson 0-2, Conley 0-2). Fouled OutJohnson. ReboundsChicago 49 (Noah, Boozer 10), Memphis 47 (Randolph, Johnson 10). AssistsChicago 16 (Augustin 9), Memphis 19 (Conley 9). Total FoulsChicago 21, Memphis 27. TechnicalsChicago Coach Thibodeau. A17,688 (18,119).

Wizards 106, Pistons 99

WASHINGTON (106): Ariza 5-11 2-2 15, Booker 2-6 2-3 6, Gortat 4-8 0-0 8, Wall 7-15 14-15 29, Beal 6-13 0-0 13, Webster 4-7 0-0 10, Nene 5-9 1-2 11, Vesely 0-0 0-0 0, Temple 0-1 1-2 1, Porter Jr. 3-4 1-3 7, Seraphin 3-4 0-0 6. Totals 39-78 21-27 106.

DETROIT (99): Smith 6-19 4-6 16, Monroe 7-17 8-12 22, Drummond 7-10 2-4 16, Jennings 5-16 3-4 15, Caldwell-Pope 7-11 0-1 17, Singler 4-5 2-4 11, Billups 0-2 0-0 0, Harrellson 0-1 0-0 0, Bynum 0-0 2-2 2, Datome 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 36-82 21-35 99.

Washington 33 20 25 28— 106

Detroit 32 31 24 12— 99

3-Point GoalsWashington 7-19 (Ariza 3-7, Webster 2-4, Wall 1-4, Beal 1-4), Detroit 6-20 (Caldwell-Pope 3-6, Jennings 2-8, Singler 1-2, Billups 0-2, Smith 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsWashington 50 (Ariza 11), Detroit 55 (Drummond 16). AssistsWashington 25 (Wall 7), Detroit 26 (Jennings 14). Total FoulsWashington 27, Detroit 24. TechnicalsGortat, Washington defensive three second, Detroit defensive three second. A15,050 (22,076).

Jazz 83, Bobcats 80

CHARLOTTE (80): Tolliver 1-6 0-0 3, McRoberts 2-6 0-0 5, A.Jefferson 8-23 1-2 18, Walker 6-17 5-5 18, Henderson 6-13 5-8 19, Zeller 1-1 0-0 2, Douglas-Roberts 2-4 0-0 5, Sessions 4-13 0-0 8, Biyombo 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 31-84 11-15 80.

UTAH (83): R.Jefferson 3-10 1-2 9, Williams 6-8 0-0 13, Favors 6-10 1-2 13, Burke 8-17 2-2 21, Hayward 3-10 2-2 9, Burks 6-12 1-1 14, Evans 0-3 0-0 0, Kanter 2-8 0-0 4, Garrett 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 34-80 7-9 83.

Charlotte 21 13 19 27— 80

Utah 21 21 21 20— 83

3-Point GoalsCharlotte 7-14 (Henderson 2-2, Walker 1-1, Tolliver 1-2, A.Jefferson 1-2, McRoberts 1-3, Douglas-Roberts 1-3, Sessions 0-1), Utah 8-21 (Burke 3-6, R.Jefferson 2-6, Williams 1-1, Hayward 1-3, Burks 1-3, Garrett 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsCharlotte 53 (A.Jefferson 10), Utah 52 (WilliamsDENVER — LeBron James returned from a groin injury to score 26 points on his birthday and the Heat beat the skidding Nuggets 97-94 Monday despite losing Dwyane Wade and Norris Cole during the game.

James, who turned 29, injured his groin Friday against the Kings. He sat out Saturday against the Trail Blazers

Ty Lawson had 26 for Denver, which lost its seventh straight.

Cole left in the third quarter after falling at the end of a driving layup attempt and hitting his face on the floor. Wade who didn't return after halftime because of back spasms.

Game highlights: John Wall scored 29 and the Wizards rallied past the host Pistons to win 106-99. Wall has 20-plus points in seven straight games, the longest streak of his career. … Shawn Marion scored 32 to help the Mavericks outlast the host Timberwolves 100-98. Marion topped 30 for the first time since 2008-09. Minnesota's Kevin Love had 36 points and 11 rebounds, his third effort of at least 35-10 this season.

Parker apologizes for gesture: Spurs guard Tony Parker apologized for making a gesture with anti-Semitic connotations in a photo he said was taken three years ago. The gesture is known in France as a "quenelle." Critics describe it as an inverted Nazi salute. Parker, born in Belgium and raised in France, said he didn't know it could be offensive.

Around the league: Hawks center and ex-Gator Al Horford, Atlanta's leading scorer (18.6) and rebounder (8.4), was scheduled to have season-ending surgery today to repair his torn right pectoral muscle.

PLAYER IN CHAMbeRLAIN TRADE DIES: Connie Dierking, a former University of Cincinnati star and a 10-year NBA player who was part of the trade that brought Wilt Chamberlain to Philadelphia, died Sunday at 77. No details were released. The 6-foot-10 center was a 1958 first-round draft pick of the Syracuse Nationals, who became the 76ers. In 1965 he was among three players traded to San Francisco for Chamberlain, who helped the 76ers build an NBA champion.

Pelicans 110, Blazers 108

PORTLAND (108): Batum 3-9 1-2 8, Aldridge 13-25 2-3 28, Lopez 1-3 5-6 7, Lillard 10-18 4-5 29, Matthews 6-13 3-4 18, Williams 3-9 0-0 8, Freeland 2-5 0-0 4, Wright 1-5 3-4 6, Leonard 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 39-88 18-24 108.

NEW ORLEANS (110): Aminu 4-8 1-1 9, Anderson 5-11 2-2 13, Davis 13-19 1-4 27, Holiday 14-28 2-2 31, Morrow 1-3 0-0 2, Evans 9-15 2-2 20, Roberts 1-4 2-2 4, Ajinca 0-0 0-0 0, Rivers 1-1 2-2 4, Stiemsma 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 48-89 12-15 110.

Portland 21 28 33 26— 108

New Orleans 26 30 33 21— 110

3-Point GoalsPortland 12-32 (Lillard 5-8, Matthews 3-8, Williams 2-5, Wright 1-4, Batum 1-7), New Orleans 2-11 (Holiday 1-2, Anderson 1-5, Evans 0-1, Roberts 0-1, Aminu 0-1, Morrow 0-1). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsPortland 47 (Aldridge 8), New Orleans 52 (Aminu 15). AssistsPortland 25 (Batum 6), New Orleans 19 (Holiday 13). Total FoulsPortland 13, New Orleans 19. TechnicalsNew Orleans defensive three second. A17,035 (17,188).

Mavericks 100, Wolves 98

DALLAS (100): Marion 14-19 0-0 32, Nowitzki 7-17 2-3 16, Dalembert 3-3 3-4 9, Calderon 3-7 0-0 8, Ellis 3-14 3-3 9, Carter 2-9 2-2 6, Wright 6-8 2-2 14, Crowder 0-4 0-0 0, Blair 3-3 0-0 6, Larkin 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 41-86 12-14 100.

MINNESOTA (98): Brewer 7-12 0-0 16, Love 14-24 6-8 36, Pekovic 6-13 6-6 18, Rubio 1-3 2-2 4, Martin 6-15 6-7 19, Shved 0-3 0-0 0, Mbah a Moute 0-1 0-0 0, Cunningham 0-2 0-0 0, Barea 2-4 0-0 5, Hummel 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 36-79 20-23 98.

Dallas 29 33 19 19— 100

Minnesota 23 20 38 17— 98

3-Point GoalsDallas 6-24 (Marion 4-6, Calderon 2-4, Larkin 0-1, Crowder 0-2, Ellis 0-3, Carter 0-4, Nowitzki 0-4), Minnesota 6-23 (Brewer 2-5, Love 2-7, Barea 1-3, Martin 1-3, Shved 0-1, Mbah a Moute 0-1, Rubio 0-1, Hummel 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsDallas 42 (Dalembert 7), Minnesota 51 (Love 11). AssistsDallas 33 (Ellis 10), Minnesota 22 (Rubio 13). Total FoulsDallas 20, Minnesota 15. TechnicalsEllis, Minnesota defensive three second.

Bulls 95, Grizzlies 91

CHICAGO (95): Dunleavy 2-5 3-3 7, Boozer 9-16 3-4 21, Noah 2-9 4-5 8, Hinrich 1-3 3-6 6, Butler 6-10 12-14 26, Gibson 3-7 3-4 9, Snell 3-5 1-2 8, Augustin 2-8 4-4 10, Mohammed 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 28-65 33-42 95.

MEMPHIS (91): Prince 1-2 1-2 3, Randolph 4-15 2-2 10, Koufos 6-8 0-0 12, Conley 9-19 8-10 26, Allen 5-7 3-4 13, Davis 3-4 2-4 8, Johnson 4-13 5-6 13, Bayless 2-5 0-0 4, Miller 1-2 0-0 2, Leuer 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 35-78 21-28 91.

Chicago 17 29 25 24— 95

Memphis 22 22 20 27— 91

3-Point GoalsChicago 6-15 (Butler 2-3, Augustin 2-7, Hinrich 1-1, Snell 1-2, Dunleavy 0-2), Memphis 0-5 (Miller 0-1, Johnson 0-2, Conley 0-2). Fouled OutJohnson. ReboundsChicago 49 (Noah, Boozer 10), Memphis 47 (Randolph, Johnson 10). AssistsChicago 16 (Augustin 9), Memphis 19 (Conley 9). Total FoulsChicago 21, Memphis 27. TechnicalsChicago Coach Thibodeau. A17,688 (18,119).

Wizards 106, Pistons 99

WASHINGTON (106): Ariza 5-11 2-2 15, Booker 2-6 2-3 6, Gortat 4-8 0-0 8, Wall 7-15 14-15 29, Beal 6-13 0-0 13, Webster 4-7 0-0 10, Nene 5-9 1-2 11, Vesely 0-0 0-0 0, Temple 0-1 1-2 1, Porter Jr. 3-4 1-3 7, Seraphin 3-4 0-0 6. Totals 39-78 21-27 106.

DETROIT (99): Smith 6-19 4-6 16, Monroe 7-17 8-12 22, Drummond 7-10 2-4 16, Jennings 5-16 3-4 15, Caldwell-Pope 7-11 0-1 17, Singler 4-5 2-4 11, Billups 0-2 0-0 0, Harrellson 0-1 0-0 0, Bynum 0-0 2-2 2, Datome 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 36-82 21-35 99.

Washington 33 20 25 28— 106

Detroit 32 31 24 12— 99

3-Point GoalsWashington 7-19 (Ariza 3-7, Webster 2-4, Wall 1-4, Beal 1-4), Detroit 6-20 (Caldwell-Pope 3-6, Jennings 2-8, Singler 1-2, Billups 0-2, Smith 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsWashington 50 (Ariza 11), Detroit 55 (Drummond 16). AssistsWashington 25 (Wall 7), Detroit 26 (Jennings 14). Total FoulsWashington 27, Detroit 24. TechnicalsGortat, Washington defensive three second, Detroit defensive three second. A15,050 (22,076).

Jazz 83, Bobcats 80

CHARLOTTE (80): Tolliver 1-6 0-0 3, McRoberts 2-6 0-0 5, A.Jefferson 8-23 1-2 18, Walker 6-17 5-5 18, Henderson 6-13 5-8 19, Zeller 1-1 0-0 2, Douglas-Roberts 2-4 0-0 5, Sessions 4-13 0-0 8, Biyombo 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 31-84 11-15 80.

UTAH (83): R.Jefferson 3-10 1-2 9, Williams 6-8 0-0 13, Favors 6-10 1-2 13, Burke 8-17 2-2 21, Hayward 3-10 2-2 9, Burks 6-12 1-1 14, Evans 0-3 0-0 0, Kanter 2-8 0-0 4, Garrett 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 34-80 7-9 83.

Charlotte 21 13 19 27— 80

Utah 21 21 21 20— 83

3-Point GoalsCharlotte 7-14 (Henderson 2-2, Walker 1-1, Tolliver 1-2, A.Jefferson 1-2, McRoberts 1-3, Douglas-Roberts 1-3, Sessions 0-1), Utah 8-21 (Burke 3-6, R.Jefferson 2-6, Williams 1-1, Hayward 1-3, Burks 1-3, Garrett 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsCharlotte 53 (A.Jefferson 10), Utah 52 (Williamsams 10). AssistsCharlotte 13 (Walker 4), Utah 17 (Hayward, Burke 5). Total FoulsCharlotte 12, Utah 17. TechnicalsUtah defensive three second.

Heat 97, Nuggets 94

MIAMI (97): James 8-15 5-8 26, Battier 2-3 0-0 6, Bosh 8-12 1-4 17, Chalmers 1-5 7-10 10, Wade 6-9 0-0 12, Allen 4-7 3-4 13, Haslem 0-4 0-0 0, Cole 0-3 0-0 0, Lewis 1-2 0-0 2, Beasley 4-6 0-0 9, Anthony 0-0 2-2 2, Mason Jr. 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 34-67 18-28 97.

DENVER (94): Chandler 6-17 0-0 13, Faried 4-8 0-0 8, Hickson 5-11 2-2 12, Lawson 8-15 5-6 26, Hamilton 1-3 0-0 3, Foye 4-6 3-3 11, Arthur 6-14 0-0 13, Mozgov 3-4 0-0 6, A.Miller 1-2 0-0 2, Robinson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 38-81 10-11 94.

Miami 29 17 26 25— 97

Denver 30 25 22 17— 94

3-Point GoalsMiami 11-23 (James 5-9, Battier 2-3, Allen 2-4, Beasley 1-1, Chalmers 1-3, Mason Jr. 0-1, Lewis 0-1, Wade 0-1), Denver 8-20 (Lawson 5-8, Arthur 1-1, Hamilton 1-2, Chandler 1-6, Robinson 0-1, Hickson 0-1, Foye 0-1). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsMiami 41 (Allen 7), Denver 46 (Hickson 11). AssistsMiami 23 (James 10), Denver 23 (Foye, Lawson 7). Total FoulsMiami 13, Denver 21. TechnicalsMiami defensive three second.ams 10). AssistsCharlotte 13 (Walker 4), Utah 17 (Hayward, Burke 5). Total FoulsCharlotte 12, Utah 17. TechnicalsUtah defensive three second.

Heat 97, Nuggets 94

MIAMI (97): James 8-15 5-8 26, Battier 2-3 0-0 6, Bosh 8-12 1-4 17, Chalmers 1-5 7-10 10, Wade 6-9 0-0 12, Allen 4-7 3-4 13, Haslem 0-4 0-0 0, Cole 0-3 0-0 0, Lewis 1-2 0-0 2, Beasley 4-6 0-0 9, Anthony 0-0 2-2 2, Mason Jr. 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 34-67 18-28 97.

DENVER (94): Chandler 6-17 0-0 13, Faried 4-8 0-0 8, Hickson 5-11 2-2 12, Lawson 8-15 5-6 26, Hamilton 1-3 0-0 3, Foye 4-6 3-3 11, Arthur 6-14 0-0 13, Mozgov 3-4 0-0 6, A.Miller 1-2 0-0 2, Robinson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 38-81 10-11 94.

Miami 29 17 26 25— 97

Denver 30 25 22 17— 94

3-Point GoalsMiami 11-23 (James 5-9, Battier 2-3, Allen 2-4, Beasley 1-1, Chalmers 1-3, Mason Jr. 0-1, Lewis 0-1, Wade 0-1), Denver 8-20 (Lawson 5-8, Arthur 1-1, Hamilton 1-2, Chandler 1-6, Robinson 0-1, Hickson 0-1, Foye 0-1). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsMiami 41 (Allen 7), Denver 46 (Hickson 11). AssistsMiami 23 (James 10), Denver 23 (Foye, Lawson 7). Total FoulsMiami 13, Denver 21. TechnicalsMiami defensive three second.

James returns to lead Heat 12/31/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 12:27am]

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