by Brett Weisband | @weisband
Mavericks (19-13) 87, Wizards (14-15) 78
Dallas used a 9-0 run late in the fourth quarter to erase a four-point hole, keeping the Wizards from going over .500 for the first time all season. Monta Ellis scored 23 on 7-18 shooting to lead the Mavs, who overcame Dirk Nowtizki’s worst outing of the season – nine points on 3-14 shooting.
After Marcin Gortat scored to put the Wiz up 74-70, Washington went scoreless for more than four minutes as the Mavs made their run. John Wall led the team with 22 points but turned the ball over seven times. Trevor Booker had a career-high 19 boards and chipped in 10 points for the double double.
Raptors (15-15) 95, Pacers (25-6) 82
It’s starting to look like the East might have another legit team. The Raptors knocked off Indiana, who came in with the League’s best record. Toronto pulled away in the fourth, outscoring the Pacers 17-8 over the final six minutes of the game. DeMar DeRozan paced the Raps with 26 points and grabbed a season-high nine rebounds. Some of the Raptors’ other parts that had a tough go of things while Rudy Gay was on the roster stepped up as well; Kyle Lowry had 13 points and a season-high 14 assists, Terrence Ross scored 18 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 13 and nine boards. DeRozan and Lowry did most of the damage as Toronto pulled away, combining for 16 of the team’s final 20 points.
The Pacers had a rough night, turning the ball over 23 times, their highest figure this season, and shooting only 43 percent. Roy Hibbert (16 points) fouled out in under 22 minutes of playing time, and Paul George shot just 5-14 for his 12 points.
The Raptors have tough tests upcoming, playing Indiana again as well as Miami next week, but they’ve already beaten top teams in both conferences over their winning stretch. At the very least, it’s nice that the Atlantic division finally has a team playing .500 ball.
Timberwolves (16-16) 124, Pelicans (14-16) 112
Minnesota rolled to victory in a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score indicates. The Timberwolves rode a balanced scoring effort to victory, getting double-digit scoring performances from seven players, including three guys over 20. Nikola Pekovic led with 22, Kevin Love overcame a tough shooting night (1-7 from long range) to score 21 and Ricky Rubio once again flirted with a triple double, going for 14 points, nine assists and eight boards.
The Pellies shot 51.7 percent, yet still trailed by as many as 30 points in the second half. They allowed 55.7 percent shooting by the Wolves and put them on the line 35 times. Ryan Anderson turned in a solid scoring effort with 25 but struggled from beyond the arc (2-8 from three). Eric Gordon returned to the lineup for New Orleans, but struggled on his way to 12 points (5-12 shooting) after missing three games with a hip injury.
Sixers (10-21) 114, Denver (14-17) 102
The Sixers picked up their first back-to-back win since their 3-0 start while Denver’s tailspin toward the lottery continued. Evan Turner led Philly with 23 points and Michael Carter-Williams filled his stat line with 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Thad Young chipped in a double double, going for 17 and 10 boards.
The loss for Denver marked their eighth straight defeat, the franchise’s longest skid in over a decade. Frustration bubbled over for the Nuggets as Andre Miller, who received a DNP – coach’s decision, had to be held back in a sideline argument. Denver gave up 68 first half points and allowed the Sixers, one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league, to hit nearly 40 percent from behind the arc. Ty Lawson (15 and 11 assists) and J.J. Hickson (19 and 12 boards) posted double doubles for Denver, but the rest of the team struggled; Denver shot 39.6 percent overall and hit just 5-25 three-point tries.
Clippers (22-12) 112, Bobcats (14-19) 85
A competitive first half turned into a second-half blowout as the Clippers romped to a victory. Blake Griffin had another monster game, going for 31 points (14-20 shooting) and 12 boards, his third 30-point game in the Clips’ last four, while Jared Dudley (20 points, 6-9 from three) got going from long range to key the win. Chris Paul had a quiet double double with 17 and 14, making seven of his first eight field goal attempts.
The game went into the half tied at 56, with the lead changing hands early and often. In the third quarter, Charlotte went cold, hitting 4-19 from the field, while Dudley went off, hitting three of his three-pointers in a quarter the Clips won by 12. All five Charlotte starters scored in double figures, paced by Al Jefferson’s 14 and 12 boards, but the team shot just 38.2 percent for the game.