Pacers (18-32) 114, Pistons (19-31) 109
After falling to Detroit twice earlier in the season, the Pacers — who rocked their throwback Flo-Jo uniforms — edged the Pistons on Wednesday night. George Hill returned to Indiana’s starting five and dropped 20 points and six dimes.
The Pacers trailed 49-48 at halftime and went on a huge run in the third quarter. Detroit made it close again in the fourth quarter but couldn’t earn the road win. Roy Hibbert (16 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks), CJ Miles (15 points, 3 steals) and David West (14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals) were crucial. Motor City’s frontcourt played well in the loss — a common theme for the Pistons this season — as Greg Monroe went for 16 points, 9 boards and 3 steals and Andre Drummond finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds.
Hawks (41-9) 105, Wizards (31-19) 96
Atlanta entered Wednesday night’s game looking to bounce back (sounds weird, doesn’t it?) after losing its first game since December.
The Hawks didn’t have to wait long to get back to their winning ways. They cruised to victory and handed Washington its fourth straight loss in the process. Just prior to tip-off, the ENTIRE HAWKS STARTING FIVE were named Eastern Conference players of the month. In case you’re wondering if teammates have ever shared the award in the past, the answer is yes; see below:
December 2001: Paul Pierce & Antoine Walker
November 2002: Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash & Michael Finley
December 2010: LeBron James & Dwyane Wade
Back to the game. The first quarter was neck-and-neck, but Atlanta led 59-46 at the half and controlled it the rest of the way. Jeff Teague dropped 17 of his 26 points in the first two quarters; he also finished with 8 assists. Al Horford (21 points, 13 rebounds) and Paul Millsap (11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals) were instrumental for the East’s best team, per usual. The Hawks shot 11-25 from beyond the arc, while the Wizards shot just 4-16. John Wall was tough to contain as he flirted with a triple double with 24 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds. Bradley Beal posted 23 points but got absolutely obliterated by Mike Scott:
Celtics (18-30) 104, Nuggets (19-31) 100
Boston hit its free throws down the stretch to hand the Nuggets their fourth straight loss. Several Super Bowl champs, including Malcolm Butler, were there to witness the home team’s balanced scoring effort; five Celtics scored 14 or more points.
Boston led 57-47 at halftime. The Nuggets went on a 14-4 run to tie it up in the fourth quarter, but the Celtics didn’t back down. Marcus Thornton led the way offensively with 17 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Avery Bradley had 17 points, and Jae Crowder contributed with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Jared Sullinger sat out the first quarter due to tardiness, but the third-year power forward still managed to play an important role with 14 points and 7 boards. Ty Lawson (23 points, 8 assists, 2 steals) was largely responsible for Denver’s comeback, controlling the tempo and finding teammates for easy buckets. Kenneth Faried (17 points, 11 rebounds), Jusuf Nurkic (14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Arron Afflalo (18 points, 2 steals) were other bright spots for the losing squad.
Nets (20-28) 109, Raptors (33-17) 93
Jarrett Jack shot 9-13 from the field for 26 points as Brooklyn routed the Raptors at Air Canada Centre, one of the rowdiest road environments in the L. Alan Anderson added 25 for the Nets, who have now strung together back-to-back wins. Kyle Lowry put up 13/6/4 in the first half; Toronto led 51-49 at the break. However, Lowry failed to score again and finished with 13/10/6. Terrence Ross scored 23.
To add insult to injury, this Cory Jefferson dunk happened:
Rockets (34-15) 101, Bulls (30-20) 90
What’s up with Chicago?
The Bulls have now lost three straight. Granted, last night’s loss came against a terrific Rockets team. James Harden (27 points), Trevor Ariza (20 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) and Donatas Motiejunas (15 points, 10 rebounds) all did their thing. Houston outscored 50-28 in the paint despite the absence of Dwight Howard, who missed his fifth straight game with a knee injury. Joakim Noah went 0-8 from the field for just 1 point (!) but pulled down 19 rebounds. Pau Gasol provided 16 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks, Taj Gibson posted 12 points and 10 boards and Derrick Rose dropped 23. So, what’s wrong with the Bulls? Is it fatigue? Simple lack of effort on defense? Is the injured Mike Dunleavy low-key super important to the team’s success when he’s healthy? Tough to say.
Harden gave Jimmy Buckets the business last night:
Bucks (27-22) 113, Lakers (13-36) 105
OJ Mayo scored 21 points off the bench including five three-pointers. Most importantly, Mayo — with two Lakers draped all over him — drained a shot from the corner with 0.5 seconds to send the game to overtime. The Bucks executed in the extra period to earn their 27th win of the season.
The Greek Freak dropped a career-high 25 points. Antetokounmpo also grabbed 6 boards and swatted 2 shots. Brandon Knight nearly triple doubled with 24 points, 8 dimes and 7 rebounds. Khris Middleton is in the midst of his best stretch of the season; the third-year shooting guard out of Texas A&M posted 21 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists against LA.
Timberwolves (9-40) 102, Heat (21-28) 101
It’s pretty nice to see Ricky Rubio back in action, huh?
The fourth-year PG (8 points, 9 assists, 2 steals) returned to his home floor and dished no-look passes with steez to catapult the T-Wolves over the Heat. Kevin Martin (30 points, 2 steals, 4 three-balls), Thaddeus Young (16 points, 5 steals) and Gorgui Dieng (13 points, 9 rebounds) all contributed in the upset. Minnesota shot 51 percent as a team to win despite being out-rebounded 47-32.
Hassan Whiteside is playing like a man possessed. He hit his first 11 shots en route to 24 points, 20 rebounds (9 offensive), 3 steals and 2 blocks. However, Whiteside’s team couldn’t beat lowly Minnesota; Norris Cole missed a three-pointer in the final seconds.
Check out the maestro at work below:
Thunder (25-24) 102, Pelicans (26-23) 91
When you’re without the reigning league MVP due to injury, it helps to have Russell Westbrook on your team.
Russ was in full roadrunner mode in New Orleans on Wednesday night, beep-beeping his way past defenders en route to 45 points (career-high 19 in the first quarter), 6 boards and 6 assists. Westbrook’s speed was simply too much for the Pelicans’ backcourt. Serge Ibaka was no slouch, either; he scored 13 points, snatched 6 boards and racked up an impressive 6 blocks. No surprise: Anthony Davis (23 points, 8 rebounds) and Ryan Anderson (19 points, 2 steals) got theirs. But NOLA couldn’t stop OKC’s All-Star point guard. The Pels are sure to be kicking themselves for not taking advantage of Durant’s absence — these are the types of games they need to win if they want to secure a playoff spot. If the season ended today, New Orleans would narrowly miss the post-season; they’re currently in ninth place in the West.
Spurs (31-18) 110, Magic (15-37) 103
Tim Duncan is like a fine wine. The Big Fundamental posted 26 points and 10 rebounds as the defending champs defeated Orlando at home. The Magic have now lost 10 straight games. Kawhi Leonard did a little bit of everything with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals and Manu Ginobili double-doubled with 13 points and 10 dimes. Orlando trailed by two with 38 seconds left in regulation, but Tony Parker hit a three to put the game out of reach. Nikola Vucevic is a cyborg — dude had 25 points and 13 rebounds and is having a ridiculous season stat-wise. Tobias Harris approached a triple-double with 23 points, 10 boards and 6 assists. Same with Elfrid Payton; the rookie dropped 14/9/6 in the loss.
Grizzlies (37-12) 100, Jazz (17-32) 90
Atlanta’s streak is over, so naturally, it’s time for basketball fans to direct their attention to whoever’s next. The Cavaliers currently hold an eleven-game win streak, but Memphis is in the midst of a nice little run of its own at eight straight.
As usual, the Grizzlies relied on their stalwart frontcourt duo of Marc Gasol (23 points, 6 rebounds) and Zach Randolph (18 points, 11 rebounds). Mike Conley got to the cup as well, scoring 17 in the win. Enes Kanter dropped 16/10 and Trey Burke hit 7-13 shots for 21 points in his new role off the bench.
Warriors (38-8) 128, Mavericks (33-17) 114
Dallas jumped out to an early 22-point lead against the Warriors at Oracle Arena.
The Mavs had no idea what Steph Curry had in store for them in the second half. The baby-faced assassin went absolutely bonkers in the third quarter; he dropped 26 points in the period including six shots from beyond the arc. Curry shot 16-26 from the field and 10-16 three-pointers for the entire game — I can’t think of a single player who could’ve guarded him last night — for a career-high 51 points. If he had any kind of opening, he let it fly, and it was usually the correct decision. Steph was one three-ball away from matching his career-high 54-point performance at MSG in 2013. Oh yeah, I almost forgot — there were other players in this game. Klay Thompson (who’s probably thinking, “26 in a quarter? That’s cool, but it’s not 37!”) had 18 and Marreese Speights posted 14 and 6. Chandler Parsons put up 24 points on 9-18 shooting and Tyson Chandler had a night with 21 and 17. The commish Adam Silver was on hand to witness Curry’s 51-point explosion. The MVP candidate became the second player in NBA history with multiple games of at least 10 three-pointers. The other player? JR Smith.