by Anton Kudriavtsev /@TheDiesel
The Hawks clinched a playoff berth as Al Horford put in 23 points and 12 rebounds, holding off the Nets. Anthony Morrow scored 25 points but the Nets made some critical turnovers among their late run and couldn’t get over the Atlanta-induced lead. New Jersey shaved their 30-point deficit to 10 before Horford scored 6 straight points to pull away.
The loudest sections of the Bradley Center were Bulls fans that had a lot to cheer about as Chicago beat the Bucks. John Salmons scored 25 points for Milwaukee but shot 0 for 5 in the final period as the Bucks stumbled to correct their offense down the stretch. It also didn’t help that Derrick Rose went Super Saiyan when it mattered most, carrying Chicago on a 12-0 run while scoring 30 points and dishing a career-high 17 assists. After hitting two free throws, Rose whipped a pass to Noah’s hair bun and hit three straight shots in the final 2 minutes. The charge-avoiding lay-up? Check. The 8-foot runner in the lane? Check. For his final act, Rose rook Jennings into the hot tub time machine back to 1996, pivoting at the free throw line before fading away and swishing the jumper amid rabid “MVP” chants. The Bulls have won four straight games, 12 of their last 13 overall.
The Knicks’ playoff airplane lost its second engine as the team continues to fall, losing its 6th straight game, this time to the Bobcats. Carmelo Anthony scored 36 points to carry New York from their 20-point deficit but ironically didn’t get help as Amar’e (14 points, 4-of-13 FG) struggled and the rest of the team lacked answers down the stretch. Eight Charlotte players scored in double figures led by Boris Diaw (20 points), as the team shot 47% from the field and held the rebounding advantage to hold New York scoreless in the last minute and a half to play. Do the Knicks have a cliché “defense wins championships” sign in their locker room with the “defense” part scratched out? Coach D’Antoni said he was worried about the offense lacking “pizazz” in a pregame quote, but fans know that the defensive end of the floor is what the coach should be worrying about.
Pacers 88, Pistons 100
Rip Hamilton enjoyed his escape from Kuester’s doghouse while scoring 23 points as his Pistons topped the Pacers. Brandon Rush led Indiana with 19 off the bench but the game turned when Detroit sprinted on a 21-3 third quarter run to take an 18-point lead. The Pacers eventually worked the lead down to 4 points but Hamilton’s lay-up and assist to Rodney Stuckey cut their hopes short. Indiana is still 1 game ahead of Charlotte for the last playoff spot in the East.
Jason Terry finished a closely-contested game against the Jazz with 5 of his 22 points coming in the 4th quarter while the Mavs went on a 13-0 run to win their 3rd straight. Al Jefferson scored 21 points as the Jazz held a 2-point lead with 6:21 left before Dallas came up with key defensive plays, including a steal by Marion which led to a three-point play for Chandler on the other end. Why does anyone care stat of the night: Dirk Nowitizki’s consecutive free throw mark is at 72.
With most fans drooling with anticipation for the defensively deficient match-up of Jose Calderon and Mo Williams, Blake Griffin stole the show with 22 points and 16 rebounds as his Clippers beat the Raptors. Ed Davis led Toronto with 21 points and 11 rebounds while the announcers marvelled at his back-to-back double-double feat. Kevin Love frowns on your accomplishment, rookie. After a quiet first half, Griffin started to get involved in the offense with follow-up slams and a Duncan-esque bank shot while Eric Gordon (17 points) came up huge down the stretch with a key steal and a three pointer to extend the L.A. lead to 4 points. Sign that you should let it go # 25: Mo Williams is still wearing LeBron’s signature playoff shoes from last season. Mo – he’s just not that into you.
“Check My $tats” of the night: Derrick Rose – 30 points, 17 assists, 3 rebounds.
John Brockman shows off his trick shot arsenal while coining his own catchphrase.
Alonzo Mourning: still a nice guy.
I’m out like Bucks fans in the Bradley Center.