by Brett Weisband | @weisband
Lakers (17-32) 119, Cavaliers (16-33) 108
The injury-riddled Lakers came into the game with just eight active players. They finished with five (technically four) and still wiped out the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Two Lakers fouled out and Jordan Farmar suffered a calf injury. When Robert Sacre picked up his sixth foul late in the fourth, he had to stay in the game because the Lakers were down to four players without him. Ryan Kelly led L.A. with 26 points, while Farmar netted 21 before sitting the final minutes. Steve Blake, playing a night after suffering a ruptured eardrum, posted a triple double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists, along with three steals.
The Cavs are an utter disaster. They gave up 70 points to the short-handed Lakers in the first half and watched them hit 18 3-pointers on the night. Mike Brown benched Kyrie Irving (11 points, 5-14 shooting, no defense) for the entire fourth quarter, while Luol Deng and Tristan Thompson both watched from the bench for most of the second half. C.J. Miles led Cleveland with 27 points off the bench.
Celtics (17-33) 114, 76ers (15-35) 108
Boston raced out to an early lead and never relented, handing the Sixers their sixth straight loss in Philly. Jeff Green helped power the Celtics, scoring 36 points, including 13 straight in one third quarter stretch. Rajon Rondo was in range for a triple double, finishing with eight points, nine boards and 11 assists in the most well-rounded game he’s played so far this season. Boston shot 49 percent on the night while blocking eight shots by the Sixers.
Philly didn’t lead in the second half, but got as close as four points in the fourth quarter. Thad Young went for 20, getting into the paint at will and hitting 9-17 from the field. Spencer Hawes put up a double double with 13 and 14, while Tony Wroten scored 18, including a heave from beyond midcourt to end the third quarter.
Spurs (36-13) 125, Wizards (24-24) 118 (2OT)
San Antonio outlasted a Wizards team that ran out of gas in the second overtime, sending Washington back down to .500. The Spurs got the win despite missing Tony Parker for the entire second half after his back tightened up. Tim Duncan had a vintage performance for San Antonio, posting 31 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals in a season-high 40 minutes. Danny Green pitched in 22 points, knocking down 5-11 from deep, while Patty Mills scored 23 in Parker’s absence.
Washington led by as many as 17 in the first half, but the Spurs fought back to eventually tie it at 99 at the end of regulation. With San Antonio ready to grab the win at the end of the first overtime, John Wall (29 points, nine assists, four steals) swiped an inbounds pass and raced down the court to tie it up. The Wizards fell flat in the second OT, going 0-9 from the field. Bradley Beal scored 19, one of seven Wizards in double figures, but didn’t play in overtime.
Magic (14-37) 112, Pistons (19-29) 98
Orlando used a big second quarter to dispatch the Pistons, riding a big effort from their prized rookie. Victor Oladipo scored 20 off the bench, hitting 8-10 shots and dropping 10 points in that decisive second quarter that provided the final margin. The Magic outscored Detroit by 14 in the second, while the other three quarters were tied. Big Baby Davis scored 18 points, while Kyle O’Quinn blocked six shots in just 20 minutes. Orlando shot 49 percent and did a great job sharing the ball, assisting on 29 of their 44 field goals.
Josh Smith had 25 points (11-19 shooting) and 12 boards in a rare efficient effort. Andre Drummond (15 points, 14 rebounds) and Brandon Jennings (15 points, 10 assists) both posted double doubles for Detroit, although Jennings shot just 5-23.
Pelicans (21-27) 105, Hawks (25-23) 100
The Hawks made it a close game in the fourth quarter, but New Orleans held on for the win at home. Anthony Davis padded his case to be named an injury replacement for the All-Star Game in two weeks, posting 27 points (9-14 shooting) and 10 rebounds. He got some help from Brian Roberts, who scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half. Atlanta cut it the Pellies lead down to just three points with under 40 seconds to go on a dunk by Paul Millsap (26 points, 10 rebounds), but Roberts iced it with a floater with 20 second to go.
DeMarre Carroll scored 22 for Atlanta, hitting 9-12 from the field and 4-6 from 3-point range, while Jeff Teague posted a double double with 11 points and 13 assists. Atlanta sent the Pelicans to the line 22 times and got outrebounded 50-38.
Trail Blazers (35-14) 94, Knicks (19-30) 90
They didn’t make it easy on themselves, but the Trail Blazers squeezed out a victory in Madison Square Garden. Portland allowed the Knicks to hang around all game, shooting just 38 percent from the field and turning it over 14 times. LaMarcus Aldridge (15 points, 5-17 shooting, 12 rebounds) and Damian Lillard (12 points, 4-12 shooting) both struggled shooting the ball, but Aldridge hit a crucial turnaround over Tyson Chandler to ice the win. Nicolas Batum stepped up, scoring 20 points and pulling down 10 rebounds, while Wes Matthews had 18 points and hit 3-6 3-pointers.
Carmelo Anthony started the game off hot for the Knicks with 18 first half points, but tailed off late; he scored just eight points in the second half and was shut out in the fourth, shooting 0-4 in the final quarter. J.R. Smith had 18 off the bench (7-14 shooting), while Amar’e Stoudemire had some bounce in his game, scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds off the bench. The Knicks’ streaky play continued, as they lost their third straight after winning five in a row. Raymond Felton, the subject of much criticism this season, was benched in the fourth quarter.
Rockets (33-17) 122, Suns (29-20) 108
Dwight Howard dominated inside, leading the Rockets over the Suns for Houston’s fourth win in a row, coinciding with a run of four straight games of 20 points or more for Howard. Dwight hit 12-18 shots from the free throw line to bolster his numbers. The Rockets shot 55 percent for the game and were on fire from long range, knocking down 11-16 shots from deep. James Harden had 23 and hit 3-5 treys, while Chandler Parsons knocked down all three of his 3-pointers on his way to 19 points. Terrence Jones had 19 and nine rebounds, shooting 9-12 from the field.
The final margin is a little deceiving, as Phoenix kept it within single digits for most of the fourth quarter before a late cold spell. Goran Dragic had 23 points and eight assists, leading six Suns with 10 or more points. P.J. Tucker scored 13 points and did a nice job guarding Harden, holding the Beard to 4-10 shooting.
Mavericks (29-21) 110, Grizzlies (26-22) 96
The Mavericks picked up a big win over a fellow Playoff contender, running away from Memphis in the second half. Dirk Nowitzki was huge in the Mavs’ third straight win, going for 26 points on 10-14 shooting, hitting 3-4 from 3-point range. The Mavs were down by five at half, but started the third quarter with a 9-4 spurt and never trailed again. Brandan Wright had 17 points in 18 minutes off the bench, while Monta Ellis and Vince Carter scored 14 apiece for the Mavericks, who shot 54 percent on the night. Dallas moved a full two games ahead of the Grizzlies in the race for the eighth spot in the West.
Zach Randolph had 25 points and nine boards for the Grizz and Courtney Lee had 22 points on 10-15 shooting. James Johnson had 17 and four blocks off the bench, but the Grizzlies had one of their worst defensive efforts since the return of Marc Gasol (12 points). The Grizz wasted a 54 percent shooting performance of their own with 17 turnovers, six of them by Gasol. Memphis was again without Mike Conley, sitting with a sprained ankle.
Thunder (40-11) 106, Timberwolves (24-25) 97
Even without their starting front court, the Timberwolves were able to hang tough against the League-leading Thunder. In the end, they didn’t have the firepower to overcome OKC. Kevin Durant had 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Thunder, while Reggie Jackson had 20 points and nine assists. Oklahoma City won the rebounding battle 49-39 and became the first team in the Asscoiation to reach 40 wins, giving themselves and three-game lead in the Western conference.
(GIF via r/NBA)
Kevin Love sat out for Minnesota after taking a hard fall on Tuesday night. Even without their All-Star, Minny shot 47 percent on the night. Ricky Rubio had his most points in two months, scoring 19 to lead the Wolves. Dante Cunningham was pressed into extra duty, scoring 18 points in 43 minutes. Without Love, Minnesota shot just 30 percent (6-20) from 3-point range.
Nuggets (23-23) 110, Bucks (9-39) 100
Denver slammed the door on Milwaukee late after the Bucks cut the Nuggets’ lead down to three points. Wilson Chandler (24 points) scored seven points in the final two minutes to help Denver ice the win. Ty Lawson showed no ill effects from the shoulder injury he suffered last week, going for 18 points and 13 assists for the Nuggets.
The Nuggets had to cope with a monster game from Larry Sanders, who went off for 25 points and 15 rebounds, as well as another 25 from Khris Middleton. There was plenty of struggle outside of those two, as Milwaukee shot just 38 percent on the night. Brandon Knight had a brutal time shooting the ball, going 4-17 for his 16 points.
Kings (17-32) 109, Raptors (26-23) 101
Rudy Gay showed his former team what he could do in the right role, helping to lead the Kings over Toronto in Sacramento. The former Raptor put up 24 points and 10 boards, although not as efficiently as he has been since the trade, shooting 7-17. The swingman, who shot just 39 percent in Toronto, has been hitting at a 52.5 percent clip in a more refined role with the Kings. DeMarcus Cousins beasted his way to 25 and 10 for Sacto as the Kings won their second in a row after a seven-game skid.
The Raptors’ stars were the more inefficient bunch on the night; All-Star DeMar DeRozan shot just 5-17 for his 18 points, and Kyle Lowry shot 6-17 for 21 points, adding seven assists and eight rebounds. Toronto shot a shade under 43 percent on the night, turned the ball over 17 times and sent the Kings to the free throw line a whopping 51 times. They were outscored by 22 points from the line despite holding Sacramento under 40 percent shooting.
Heat (35-13) 116, Clippers (34-18) 112
It’s not often that the Heat have looked fully engaged in the slog of the regular season, but the Clippers brought out the best in them on Wednesday. LeBron James was in fine form, nearly missing a triple double for the second straight game. James finished with 31 points, 12 assists and eight boards, besting a monster effort by Blake Griffin (43 points, 16-34 shooting, 15 boards, six assists). L.A. made a run to cut a 14-point Heat lead to start the fourth quarter down to two with a minute to go, but Miami responded with a 3-pointer by Ray Allen (15 points) to put it away.
A game featuring the nos. 2 and 3 offenses did not disappoint; both sides put up highlight after highlight throughout the game. James had several loud dunks and one of his patented chasedown blocks, while Griffin had a handful of finishes off of lobs that defied logic. Miami shot 52.6 percent on the night and had six players score between 10 and 15 points; Dwyane Wade scored an efficient 14 (5-8 shooting) and handed out eight assists, while Shane Battier hit four 3-pointers on his way to 14 points. James and Chris Andersen (12 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) both played strong post defense on Griffin, making him work for his points in the halfcourt. The Clippers got 31 from Jamal Crawford (5-11 from long range) and 16 and 16 from DeAndre Jordan. Los Angeles had a hard time holding onto the ball when Miami cranked up the pressure, turning the ball over 20 times.