by Brett Weisband

Trail Blazers (46-27) 100, Hawks (31-40) 85

Portland came out on top in a battle of two teams fighting for their Playoff fates, sending to Hawks to yet another loss. LaMarcus Aldridge wasn’t too shabby in his return from injury, putting up 25 points and 16 rebounds in his first action in two weeks. Damian Lillard scored 21 points for the Blazers, who led from the end of the first quarter through the final buzzer. All five Portland starters scored in double figures, with six players in total scoring 10 or more.

Jeff Teague scored 22 points on 10-18 shooting, while Mike Budenholzer dusted off Lou Williams, who netted 16 off the bench. The Hawks have lost five straight, following five straight wins. Their lead over the New York Knicks is down to just 1.5 games for the final Playoff spot in the East.

Rockets (49-22) 120, 76ers (15-57) 98

We’ve arrived, finally, after a two-month slog. With their 26th straight loss, a whitewashing at the hands of the Rockets, the 76ers have tied the record for the longest losing streak in NBA history. Unlike some of their recent losses, the Sixers never stood much of a chance. Sure, they hung in for the first 20 minutes of the game, but the Rockets blew things wide open before halftime and didn’t relent. James Harden recorded a triple-double despite sitting out the fourth quarter, going for 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Terrence Jones posted 20 points and 7 rebounds, while Dwight Howard had 17 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks, including one jarring stuff of Thaddeus Young:

For the second time this year, James Anderson went off against Houston, dropping 30 points on 11-18 shooting, hitting 6 triples in the process. Henry Sims put up 18 points, but the rest of the Sixers’ box score was filled with ugliness. Michael Carter-Williams had just 4 points on 2-11 shooting, but did pick up 10 assists, and Young shot 6-16 for his 15 points. The Sixers shot under 39 percent and turned it over 21 times. Philly has one last chance to avoid taking sole control of this ignominious record on Saturday against the Pistons. 

Bucks (14-58) 108, Lakers (24-47) 105

Milwaukee snapped an eight-game losing streak, pulling out a tight win after the Lakers closed down a double-digit deficit in the final minutes. Brandon Knight paced six Bucks in double figures, dropping 30 points as the high scorer in the game.

The Bucks saw a 13-point fourth quarter lead cut down to three points with just seconds on the clock, but the Lakers seemingly forgot to foul and allowed Zaza Pachulia (10 points) to get an easy basket to put Milwaukee up five. Kent Bazemore (9 points) hit a 3, but Nick Young couldn’t get a good look on the Lakers’ final possession. Ramon Sessions scored 22 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo put up 10 points and 7 boards before rolling an ankle and leaving the game. With the Sixers’ loss, the Bucks are now just one game ahead of Philadelphia in the race for top odds in the draft lottery.

Jordan Hill had a huge night for L.A., going off for 28 points and 16 rebounds, while Nick Young popped in 17 points off the bench. The Lakers were without Pau Gasol, currently suffering from vertigo.

Clippers (51-22) 109, Mavericks (43-30) 103

The Clippers dealt a major blow to Dallas’ playoff hopes, going on the road and squeezing by the Mavericks. Just 24 hours after going 0-12 from the field, Chris Paul bounced back to score 31 points on 9-18 shooting, including 4-8 from 3-point range, while also handing out 9 assists. Blake Griffin (18 points, 13 rebounds) battled foul trouble and failed to crack 20 points for the first time in 33 games, but hit two crucial shots in the last 1:15, one to tie the game and another to give L.A. the lead for good. DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and 15 rebounds, connecting with Blake for one of the best alley-oops of the season:

Dallas fell a half-game behind Phoenix in the race for the final Western Conference postseason bid after giving up a 10-point fourth quarter lead. Dirk Nowitzki had 21 points and 9 rebounds, while Vince Carter came off the bench to drop 23 points. Monta Ellis, Dirk’s primary pick-and-roll partner, had a rough night, scoring 12 points on a brutal 4-19 from the field, although he did dish out 7 dimes. The Mavs have a tough road ahead, with five of their nine remaining games coming against current Playoff teams.