by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
Pete Walsh has the night off, so I’m picking up his shift. Last night, the Lakers gained a huge game on the Jazz, and the Bulls-Raptors and Rockets-Suns games had bizarre endings. We’re closing in on a week left in the regular season. Let’s get to it.
Pacers (49-29) 99, Cavaliers (24-53) 94
Cleveland looked like they were on their way to an upset road win before getting outscored 35-10 in a dominant fourth quarter for the Pacers. Paul George had a tough night, but hit a big three to ice the game late. He finished with 14 points, 7 boards and 3 steals. George Hill added 27 for Indy, who is now 30-9 at home.
Kyrie Irving dropped 29 for Cleveland. He needed just 20 shots and tallied 7 assists (though he coughed it up 8 times). Rookie Tyler Zeller scored 18, and has had a really nice rookie season for a late first-round pick.
Indiana made just 40.5 percent of their shots, but got to the line 46 times. They also dominated on the fast break, outscoring Cleveland 33-7 in that department.
Nets (45-32) 104, 76ers (31-46) 83
This was a blowout from start to finish. Brooklyn led by 13 after one and 18 at halftime.
Reggie Evans just won’t slow down. He finished with 17 points and 24 rebounds. It’s the ninth time he’s snagged 20+ boards this year, by far the most of anyone in the League. His recent scoring surge is a wildly unexpected bonus from a guy with limited post moves to say the least. Brook Lopez scored 29 points with 11 rebounds and 3 rejections.
Philadelphia got a team-high 18 from Nick Young off the bench. He shot 7-of-10 from the floor, but his teammates combined to go 23-for-70 (just shy of 33 percent). The Sixers were out-rebounded 67-to-34. I don’t have the numbers, but I can’t imagine there have been many games this season where one team beat another by 33 on the glass.
Knicks (51-26) 120, Wizards (29-49) 99
The Knicks went nuts from downtown last night. Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert and Chris Copeland hit 4 threes each. Carmelo Anthony hit 3, Ray Felton hit 2 and Pablo Prigioni, JR Smith and Jason Kidd all knocked down a trey as well. Add it all up and you get a 20-of-36 show from deep.
Melo paced the team with 36 points, and added 8 boards and 6 assists. He made 13-of-21 shots and has been the best player in the NBA over the past few weeks. The Knicks will be taking a ton of momentum into the Playoffs if they can keep their recent level of play up for a few more games, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be the team that runs into them in Round One (likely Boston, maybe Atlanta). They’ve won 13 straight.
John Wall played well in the blowout loss, scoring 33 points while getting to the line 14 times. He’s been great down the stretch this year, and looks like a lock to secure a max contract this summer when he hits restricted free agency.
Heat (61-16) 94, Bucks (37-40) 83
Milwaukee led this first-round preview early in the third before Miami pulled away. A 48-47 Bucks lead evaporated into a 68-53 deficit during a 10-minute extended Miami run.
LeBron James led the way for the Heat with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh resting. He scored 28 points with 7 dimes and 7 boards. Typical. Udonis Haslem double-doubled with 10 and 15 in only 24 minutes.
Brandon Jennings dropped 30, but, of course, Monta Ellis struggled. Ellis and Jennings are never good on the same night, something I’ll be going into much more detail about in my upcoming first-round Playoff preview (be sure to check it out!) No other Milwaukee player scored more than 8.
Raptors (30-48) 101, Bulls (42-35) 98
Toronto led by 10 midway through the fourth, but Chicago rallied late to make things interesting. With ten seconds left, Nate Robinson went to the stripe down four. He hit the first and missed the second, and the miss led to a jump ball. It ended up in Robinson’s hands on a sloppy play, and he couldn’t sink a miracle three as time expired.
Jimmy Butler was awesome for Chicago starting place of Luol Deng. He made 10-of-12 shots including 3-of-3 from deep, and played the entire game. He’s turned into a really good player for the Bulls this year, and Chicago is absolutely stacked in the front court with Butler, Deng, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson. That’ll be a big advantage for them in the postseason.
DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 20. Rudy Gay added 19 and Kyle Lowry, Amir Johnson and Terrance Ross scored 13 each.
Grizzlies (53-25) 94, Bobcats (18-60) 75
Memphis owned the fourth quarter to put last night’s game away with ease. Zach Randolph scored 11 with 13 boards, Mike Conley scored 20 with 7 dimes and 0 turnovers and Austin Daye and Jon Leuer came off the bench to combine for 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
Kemba Walker scored 19 for Charlotte. Bismack Biyombo scored just 3 points, but grabbed 12 rebounds and stuffed 3 shots.
Rockets (44-34) 101, Suns (23-55) 98
The Rockets had the ball in a tie game with the shot clock turned off at the end of regulation last night. I’ll let the highlight tell you the rest…
James Harden dropped 33 and Omer Asik grabbed 22 rebounds for Houston. Luis Scola scored a team-high 28 for Phoenix, and Goran Dragic double-doubled with 15 and 10.
Thunder (57-21) 90, Jazz (41-38) 80
This was a big game for Utah and they couldn’t pull it out. OKC led for the entire fourth, and never really let the Jazz threaten late.
The Thunder were led by 25 from Russell Westbrook and a near triple-double from Kevin Durant—21 points, 12 boards and 9 dimes. Serge Ibaka went for 16 points, 8 rebounds and 5 rejections. It was an important game for OKC, too. They managed to maintain their one-loss lead over San Antonio for the top seed in the West with the W.
Utah got 15 or more from three starters, but nearly nothing from their reserves. Paul Millsap struggled, shooting just 4-of-11 with 5 turnovers. The Jazz no longer control their own fate in the fight for the West’s eighth seed.
Warriors (45-33) 105, Timberwolves (29-48) 89
Golden State outscored Minnesota by 15 in the third quarter, setting the tone for an easy fourth. Klay Thompson led Golden State with 30 points. He was great, knocking down 6-of-10 threes and racking up 5 steals. Stephen Curry played well, too, with 24 points and 10 assists. Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and David Lee combined for 36 boards.
Minnesota’s high-man was Chase Budinger with 17. Ricky Rubio missed all 10 shots he attempted, and finished with just 6 assists.
Lakers (41-37) 96, Hornets (27-50) 90
Big win for the Lakers. They moved a game ahead of Utah in the loss column with only a few games left. Last night, the game was tied at 84 with 5:13 left before Yellow LA closed strong. Antawn Jamison and Kobe Bryant did most of the damage late.
Kobe dropped 30 (9/18) with 6 boards, 6 assists and 5 steals. He played 41 minutes and has been playing out of his mind lately. Pau Gasol looked like old-school Pau with 22, 11, 4 assists and 3 blocks. He shot 9/15 (hey, he actually got some touches!) in a great outing. Dwight Howard scored 19 points but grabbed only 6 rebounds and committed 4 turnovers.
Anthony Davis was big for New Orleans against the Lakers’ great front line, posting 18 points, 14 boards, 4 steals, a block and no turnovers. Eric Gordon dropped 22 (10/11 FTs), and Greivis Vasquez double-doubled.