by Jake Fischer
Nuggets (27-36) 98, Bobcats (30-34) 105
Big Al Jefferson has been virtually unstoppable since the All-Star break. Jefferson, who’s been averaging TK since the break, posted another 26 points and 13 rebounds in the Cats’ win, Monday. He and Kemba Walker have also become a pretty affective 1-2 punch in the half-court of tight fourth-quarter games. The duo combined for 26 points in the second half.
Ty Lawson continued his terrific season in Denver’s loss. It’s truly unfortunate the point guard’s career-year has been overshadowed by such depressing mediocrity in Denver. Dude’s been averaging 19 and 9 all year and the former Tar Heel dropped 24 and 6 in Queen City. Keep balling, Ty.
Raptors (35-27 97, Nets (32-20) 101
In what very well could be a playoff preview, the Nets showed that Jason Kidd’s club might be able to pull off a first-round upset this postseason. Despite Kyle Lowry’s near triple-double of 21, 8 and 7, Brooklyn protected home court
Terrence Ross started the game off hot, scoring all 12 of his points in the opening frame to lead the Raps to a 30-19 lead after one quarter. He also did this:
Brooklyn fought back with a gritty second quarter, outscoring the Raps by 10 in the period to just 1 heading into the locker room. Shawn Livingston led the Nets with 10 points in the first half. Then in the third, the Nets carried their momentum from the first half to jump out on an 14-0 run starting with a Miles Plumlee lay in with 6:50 left in the quarter. The Nets used the spurt to take a 73-60 lead with 4:28 left in the in the third and never looked back. Livingston and Deron Williams led the way with 18 points apiece.
Wizards (33-30) 90, Heat (44-17) 99
Remember when there was that big question of who was the alpha dog in Miami? Who would the Heat rely on to close games? Then Dewayne Wade apparently told LeBron he had to take over in the fourth and the rest was history. Two-straight titles. Well, that was easy. But what about Chris Bosh? CB1 is often considered the weak link in the Heat’s Big 3, but the big man went on a huge 5-0 run by himself with about 5 minutes left in the game to put Miami up 91-84 and gave the Heat some much-needed breathing room from the feisty Wiz. Sure, Wade and James combined for 45 points, but Bosh’s 40-second stretch was the difference in this game.
Bradley Beal led the Wiz with 18 points on three 3-pointers, but Washington’s key contributions from Drew Gooden (15 points) and Martell Webster (17 points) are very promising signs moving forward.
Sixers (15-48) 110, Knicks (25-40) 123
The Sixers and Knicks battled back and forth for the first three quarters on Monday and that’s when NYK took over. New York outscored the Sixers 32-25 in the fourth quarter after taking a 6-point lead into the final stanza. The Knicks shot 10-17 as a team in the fourth and Tim Hardaway Jr. went bananas, scoring 11 of his game-high 28 points. Amar’e Stoudemire also came up huge for the Knicks, turning back the clock to score 23 points on 9-10 shooting while grabbing 6 boards. He got off the ground and slammed like it was 2006 on multiple occasions.
In the loss, leading Rookie of the Year candidate Michael Carter-Williams posted his second triple-double of the season. The Cuse alum posted 23 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, the last dime coming on a Tony Wroten layup with just 2 seconds left. The L is the Sixers’ 17th-straight defeat and Philly is now just 2 games back of Bucks for best lottery odds of the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Magic (19-46) 98, Bucks (13-50) 105
Although the Bucks have the worst record in the league, they often show flashes of the team that Milwaukee ownership expected to compete for the 8th seed in the East this season. Like tonight, this Bucks’ fast break looked like the ShowTime Lakers:
Brandon Knight scored 24 points and dish 6 dimes to lead all scorers and that slam was a good way to celebrate (?) the one-year anniversary of when DeAndre Jordan posterized him in LA last year. Ramon Sessions has been key for the Bucks since he arrived in Brew Town on the Feb. 20 trade deadline. The point guard dropped 16 points and 8 dimes in just 26 minutes off the bench. The race for the No. 1 pick is about to get really interesting.
Hawks (27-35) 112, Jazz (22-42) 110
Paul Millsap scored 23 points and grabbed 8 boards in his Utah return and the Hawks ended their six-game losing streak on Monday. Kyle Korver scored a game-high 26 points and was unconscious from deep, knocking down all four of his three-point attempts. But Korver wasn’t just a spot-up shooter tonight. Korver got into a groove in the first, knocking down some mid-range pull-ups off the dribble in his 9-point fourth quarter. The two teams were tied at 96 with 3:32 left thanks to a Korver triple and the Hawks rattled of a 9-2 run to take a commanding 105-98 lead with just 40 seconds left. Atlanta played like a playoff team taking care of business on the road. We haven’t seen that from the Hawks in a while.
Suns (36-27 105), Clippers (45-20) 112
In the final game of the evening, Blake Griffin went absolutely bonkers on the visiting Suns. Over the last few weeks, everyone’s been hyping Joakim Noah as No. 3 in the MVP race behind KD and LeBron, but don’t sleep on Blake. Griffin had 29 points on 11-12 shooting in the first half alone, going to work on the left block against Channing Frye and the Morris Twins. He hit a ridiculous fade-away jumper from the left baseline over Frye and spun around the Morris’ to finish in the paint and Blake had time to salute one of the game’s greatest of all-time as well:
Blake would finish with 37 points on 14-16 shooting and 6 rebounds, but he did not score in the fourth quarter. Instead, he was rolling around in a scrum with P.J. Tucker:
Tucker would be ejected. Expect a one-game suspension for the Phoenix swingman for punching Griffin in the face. Marcin Gortat might think the NBA should allow NHL fights, but in today’s rules you can’t mess with Blake’s money maker.