by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
Not a lot of great games last night, but a few teams definitely impressed. Catch up on all nine games below…
Since the All-Star Break, the Celtics have compiled a record of 16-7, which is good enough for second best record in the East behind Chicago who has won 16 out of their last 21. Last night, it looked like the Celtics may have one more run in them this spring after their version of the Big Three combined for 25 fourth quarter points in a 14-point drubbing of the streaking Pacers. The C’s played their vintage style of hard-nosed defense and beat up on the Pacers, holding them to 35 percent shooting from the floor and forcing them into 19 turnovers. Kevin Garnett finished with 15 points and 7 boards, Ray Allen had 19 off the bench, and Paul Pierce led all scorers with 24 on 8-14 shooting. The Pacers had their four-game win streak snapped and matched its season-low point total with 72. Danny Granger scored 20 points and Roy Hibbert finished with 9 points and 17 boards.
For the second time this week, the Hawks laid the smack down on the hapless Bobcats; this time putting a 20-point hurting on ‘em. The Bobcats were in it for most of the first half, and only trailed by one midway through the second before Atlanta ripped off a 20-7 run to end the half and cruised to the finish. Joe Johnson finished with 18 points in under 22 minutes, Josh Smith scored 15 and Zaza Pachulia notched a double-double with 12 points and 16 boards. The lone bright spot for the Bobcats was rookie point man Cory Higgins who finished with a game-high 22 points in three quarters.
In a back and forth game, the Magic used a 5-0 fourth quarter run to take a 77-73 lead that held them over until the final buzzer. J.J. Reddick went 4-6 in the fourth to finish with 19 points, Dwight Howard posted another 20-20 game with 20 points and 22 boards and Big Baby scored a game-high 23 points as the Magic ended their five-game losing streak. The loss marked Philly’s third straight and after a promising first half of the season, the Sixers find themselves just one and a half games ahead of Milwaukee for the eighth spot in the East. Not one Sixer starter finished in double figures and Thaddeus Young led the team with 20 points off the bench.
The red hot Grizzlies have now beaten the Thunder, Heat, and now the Mavericks to begin April and are brimming with confidence during the last month of the regular season. Memphis jumped all over the defending champs early, outscoring them 29-10 in the first quarter. The Mavs were able to chip into the lead and eventually cut it to one before their opponent pushed the lead back to five heading into the fourth. In the final quarter, Memphis once again took a double-digit lead over the Mavs and were able to hold them off down the stretch. With the win, the Griz are now two games ahead of Dallas for the fifth seed in the West. Rudy Gay finished with 25 points, Z-Bo scored a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards and Gilbert Arenas hit three 3′s en route to 14 points off the bench. Dirk Nowitzki scored a team-high 17 points and grabbed 8 boards, Shawn Marion notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards and Brandan Wright scored 16 off the bench.
The Hornets have now won two out of their last three after holding off a late Timberwolves rally down in New Orleans last night. The telling stat in last night’s game was rebounding: The Hornets outrebounded the T’Wolves 48-33 which led to 21 second chance points–a rare occurrence considering how well Minnesota has rebounded the ball this season. The Hornets finished the game on a 14-7 run to seal the deal. Jason Smith finished with 26 points and 10 boards and Chris Kaman also notched a double-double with 21 points and 10 boards. Kevin Love led all scorers with 29 points to go along with 12 rebounds and Michael Beasley chipped in with 20 off the bench.
The Blazers looked out of gas in the second half one night after defeating the Mavs in overtime, and it showed on the scorecard; the Bucks outscored their opponent 62-31 over the third and fourth quarters. The Blazers were still within striking distance midway through the fourth quarter, but after Brandon Jennings nailed a step back three pointer to push the lead to 11, the Blazers looked defeated. Jennings finished with 21 points, Beno Udrih scored 21 and dished out 6 assists while Ersan Illyasova scored another double-double with 20 points and 12 boards. For Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge finished with a team-high 21 points.
Seven Phoenix players finished in double-digits as the Suns made light work of the banged-up Lakers. Shannon Brown finished with 24 points (20 in the third), Steve Nash posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 dimes, and Michael Redd dropped 23 points off the bench in Suns best offensive output of the season. Kobe Bryant was a late scratch and missed his first game in two seasons with a shin injury. Andrew Bynum sure didn’t seem to mind Kobe watching from the sidelines; Bynum compiled a career high 27 shots (hitting 10 of them) to finish with 23 points and 18 rebounds. Pau Gasol finished with 30 points and 13 boards and Metta World Peace dropped 19 points.
After criticizing Blake Griffin earlier this week and sparking a new rivalry out West, DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings fell to the Clippers in Los Angeles last night. The win marked the Clippers’ eighth victory in nine tries as they try to finish strong down the stretch. Griffin finished with 27 points and 14 boards, Randy Foye hit a ridiculous seven three’s to score 25 points and Chris Paul dished out 15 assists to go with his 19 points. After the Kings began to crawl back into the game during the third quarter, the Clippers went on a rampage and ripped off a 20-7 run to keep Sacramento at bay. DMC finished with 15 points and 20 boards and Tyreke Evans scored 14 points but also committed 6 turnovers.
The Nuggets came out hot behind Aaron Afflalo’s 13 first quarter points and jumped out to an early lead. But playing the second night of a back-to-back took its toll in the second half and the Warriors were able to take full advantage and get a home victory. Brandon Rush scored 20 points off the bench, Nate Robinson scored 14 points and dropped 7 dimes and David Lee finished with 17 points and 9 boards. The loss dropped the Nuggets down to the eighth seed and a half-game back of both Houston and Dallas. Ty Lawson finished with 21 points and 6 assists, but as a team, Denver was outrebounded 41-35 and gave up 58 points in the paint in the loss.
Stat Line of the Night: Dwight Howard with another 20-20 game with 20 points and 22 boards.
Dunks of the Night: Josh Smith with the steal and reverse dunk.
Eric Bledsoe takes it to the rack.
Tonight: The Knicks and Bulls kick off an Easter Sunday full of great hoops. Abe will be back tomorrow to take you through it all. Thanks for rocking with me!