by Brett Weisband | @weisband
Pacers (39-10) 118, Trail Blazers (35-15) 113 (OT)
Portland showed once again that they can hang with the NBA’s elite, but couldn’t hold up against Indiana in crunch time as the Pacers charged to an overtime victory. George Hill was the star for Indy, keeping the Pacers in the game with his shooting as their stars struggled. Hill finished with a career-best 37 points along with nine rebounds and eight assists, while David West had 30 points and 10 boards on 13-16 shooting. Hill hit a tough 3-pointer to send the game into OT, while West picked off an ill-advised pass from LaMarcus Aldridge under the Blazer’s basket with 1:38 to go in the overtime and flushed it to give Indy a four-point lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Damian Lillard shined in the spotlight for Portland, going off for 38 points and 11 assists, hitting 15-26 shots and knocking down 4-7 from deep. Wes Matthews ignited in the second half, scoring all 19 of his points after halftime and carrying the Portland offense down the stretch, scoring 10 straight points late in the fourth on an array of shooting and nifty post moves. The Blazers’ defense, a source of concern all season, did a great job containing Paul George, holding him to 5-23 shooting and 17 points. The swingman did score four points and pick up an assist in the overtime, helping key the win.
The Blazers were able to bang with the Pacers inside, out-rebounding them 47-46. Robin Lopez went to work on Roy Hibbert, going for 17 and 14 while the All-Star had just four points, six boards and two blocks. Indy did block nine shots in the win and got to the line 15 times more than Portland.
Magic (15-37) 103, Thunder (40-12) 102
Wearing their gorgeous black pinstripe jerseys, the Magic swiped a win away from the Thunder in the final seconds. Victor Oladipo (14 points, 5-7 shooting, five rebounds) picked up a rebound off a potential Kevin Durant dagger with just seconds on the clock, igniting a fast break that ended with a game-winning dunk by Tobias Harris (18 points) as time expired. Orlando overcame an eight-point hole at the start of the fourth quarter for the comeback win.
KD had a career-high 12 assists to go along with his ho-hum 29 points, while Serge Ibaka continued his scorching hot shooting, hitting 10-13 for his 26 points. The turnover battled killed the Thunder, as Durant had six and the team had 16 as a whole, forcing just nine from Orlando. OKC’s offense got stagnant late, as they attempted too many contested jumpers as the game wore on.
Lakers (18-32) 112, 76ers (15-36) 98
On his 40th birthday, Steve Nash led the Lakers to a win in Philly, scoring a season-high 19 points for L.A. Refreshed from his bench nap in Cleveland, Chris Kaman put in 17 off the bench for the Lakers, who won their second in a row. There wasn’t much defense played by either side, as the Lakers shot over 50 percent. L.A. got another 17 from Wesley Johnson, while Steve Blake had 14 and eight assists.
Luckily for Los Angeles, the Sixers couldn’t shoot straight, hitting just 42.5 percent from the field despite sinking 15-32 from long range. Spencer Hawes had 15 points and 11 boards, hitting 3-6 from deep, while Michael Carter-Williams had 10 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Tony Wroten had 16 off the bench and hit a heave from three-quarters court to beat the third quarter buzzer for the second game in a row. The loss was the Sixers’ seventh in a row at home, their longest such skid since 1996.
Cavaliers (17-33) 115, Wizards (24-25) 113
A day after firing their general manager, the Cavaliers finally turned their offense on and got a road win against Washington. Dion Waiters, one of the criticized picks made by the departed Chris Grant, led Cleveland with 24 points, while Kyrie Irving had 23 and hit all 13 of his free throw attempts. The Cavs withstood a late charge by John Wall (32 points, 10 assists), who nearly won the game singlehandedly by scoring nine points in the final two minutes.
Both teams were blistering hot early, with a halftime score of 67-63, and both squads finished the game shooting better than 50 percent from the field. Cleveland, playing without an under-the-weather Luol Deng, got 17 from C.J. Miles on 7-11 shooting. Marcin Gortat had 19 points and eight rebounds for Washington, while Martell Webster hit 6-10 3-pointers off the bench for his 18 points. Washington dropped back below .500 after climbing above the mark for the first time in four years earlier in the week.
Celtics (18-33) 99, Kings (17-33) 89
The Celtics didn’t need their starting backcourt on Friday, dispatching the Kings with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley on the bench. Jared Sullinger put the team on his back, going for a career-high 31 points while grabbing 16 boards. Boston used a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter to put Sacramento away. Boston got 19 from Jerryd Bayless, playing heavy minutes with a short guard rotation.
DeMarcus Cousins matched Sullinger’s 31 and 16, and Isaiah Thomas had 24 for the Kings. Even with those two combining to shoot 20-42 from the floor, the Kings still shot just 35 percent on the night. Derrick Williams was the only other King in double figures, but shot 2-11. The Kings had won two in a row coming in, while the Celtics won their third straight for the first time since December.
Pistons (20-29) 111, Nets (22-26) 95
Detroit’s big man trio feasted on the Nets, taking advantage of a team playing the second night of a back-to-back to score a blowout win. Andre Drummond had 16 points and 22 rebounds – eight on the offensive end – and Josh Smith had 23 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four blocks for Detroit. Brandon Jennings got in on the fun as well, just missing a triple double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. He did turn the ball over eight times, but it hardly mattered as the Pistons shot 51 percent while holding Brooklyn to 36 percent from the field.
The Nets rested Kevin Garnett after Thursday’s matchup with the Spurs, and none of the Nets’ starters played more than the 25 minutes logged by Deron Williams (10 points). Joe Johnson had 16 points in 22 minutes, while Jason Terry came off the bench for 18 points.
Knicks (20-30) 117, Nuggets (24-24) 90
The Knicks coasted to a win over Denver, exhibiting flashes of the ball movement and shooting that made them so successful last season. Carmelo Anthony netted 31 points on 12-21 shooting and rested the fourth quarter in the blowout. The Knicks picked up 23 assists, knocked down 11-28 from 3-point range and shot 56.5 percent overall. Amar’e Stoudemire had his second straight explosive game, putting in 17 points off the bench, while J.R. Smith had 13 points.
Ty Lawson took advantage of some favorable defensive matchups to score 24 points on 9-17 shooting, but most his teammates struggled. Wilson Chandler had 17 points in his first game back at Madison Square Garden since being dealt in the Melo trade, but the Nugs hit just 42 percent on the night and turned the ball over 23 times.
Mavericks (30-21) 103, Jazz (16-33) 81
The Mavs handled business at home, sending Utah packing in an easy win. Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points in 26 minutes, needing just nine shots to get there, while Monta Ellis sliced his way to 22 points for Dallas. The Mavericks hit 10-18 triples on the night and put in a strong defensive effort against the punchless Jazz, holding Utah to 40 percent shooting. Marvin Williams had 21 points for Utah, hitting four 3-pointers in the games opening minutes to stake the Jazz to an early lead. It would be short-lived, as Dallas pulled ahead with three minutes to go in the first quarter and never looked back. The Mavericks have won four in a row to move a season-best nine games over .500, strengthening their hold on a Playoff spot.
Pelicans (22-27) 98, Timberwolves (24-26) 91
The Pelicans trailed by 10 heading into the fourth quarter, but they had the fortune of having an All-Star on the roster to guide them to the win. Anthony Davis, named to replace Kobe Bryant on Friday, scored 26 points and hauled in 10 rebounds against Minnesota as the Pellies rallied late. He got some help from Anthony Morrow, who scored all nine of his points by hitting three triples in the fourth quarter, and Eric Gordon, who netted 20 points and three steals. Davis also did his part in helping to contain Kevin Love, who suffered through a 6-20 shooting night but worked his way to 26 points (14-17 from the line) and 19 boards.
The Timberwolves’ shooting was as cold as the temperatures back in Minny, as they hit just 37 percent of their shots, including 4-18 from long range. Kevin Martin had his second straight miserable night, shooting 3-11 from the field for his 15 points.
Clippers (35-18) 118, Raptors (26-24) 105
Playing in their last game before Chris Paul returns from his shoulder injury, the Clippers had no problem dispatching the road-weary Raptors. Blake Griffin put on a show, scoring 19 points in the first quarter and 36 overall despite some foul trouble, shooting 13-18 and pulling down eight rebounds. Griffin got some help in this one from Jamal Crawford, who worked his way to the line 12 time and finished with 21 points, while DeAndre Jordan had 18 points and 13 boards, serving in his usual role as alley-oop outlet on the offensive end.
The Raptors were on the final stop of a five-game swing through the West, finishing the trip 2-3. They were understandably wiped out, shooting just 40 percent from the floor, 7-26 from deep and committing 35 fouls, all signs of a tired team. DeMar DeRozan put on a show in his hometown, going for 36 points and eight assists. Kyle Lowry had 19 for the Raps, while Jonas Valanciunas had 11 and 13 boards.
In the 18 games L.A. weathered without CP3, Blake was an absolute monster, averaging 27.5 points, eight rebounds and four assists, getting to the line 11 times per game while shooting 55 percent from the floor and nearly 70 percent on free throws. The Clips went 12-4 without Paul, not bad for playing without the best point guard on earth, even against a relatively soft schedule. CP is set to return Sunday against the 76ers.