by Alex Shultz / @AlexShultz
Oklahoma City Thunder 98 (42-12), Portland Trail Blazers 95 (36-16)
The surging Thunder used a 35-point third quarter to complete a come-from-behind victory on the road against the Trail Blazers, who led by 10 at halftime. Kevin Durant was his normal dominant self with 36 points and 10 rebounds and got some help from shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, who added 19 points of his own on 8-11 shooting. In four games against the Blazers this season, Durant is averaging 38 points per game.
Portland center Robin Lopez was arguably his team’s most valuable player with 17 points (7-9 shooting) and 14 rebounds, but the rest of the Blazer starters failed to show up. LaMarcus Aldridge was an uncharacteristic 5-22 from the floor, finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Fellow all-star Damian Lillard was 5-15 and connected on just one three-point attempt in seven tries.
Since Jan. 20, the Blazers are 5-7 overall. Things only get tougher from here, as they head to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers on Wednesday.
Miami Heat 103 (36-14), Phoenix Suns 97 (30-21)
LeBron James put together a vintage MVP performance sans Dwyane Wade, scoring 37 points to go with 9 rebounds and 5 steals. Chris Bosh, meanwhile, was an efficient 8-11 for 21 points while also effectively keeping Phoenix’s big men from getting involved.
The rest of the Heat shot just 37 percent from the field, but the work of Miami’s “big two” was enough to get the job done. Gerald Green led the Suns with 26 points, cutting Miami’s lead to four with a little over a minute remaining. Bosh didn’t let Phoenix get any closer though, icing the game on the next possession with a three-pointer.
Memphis Grizzlies 92 (28-23), Washington Wizards 89 (25-26)
John Wall’s three-point attempt rolled off the rim as time expired and the Grizzlies escaped with a hard-fought victory over the Wizards on Tuesday. Memphis couldn’t contain the red-hot shooting of Bradley Beal, who set a new career high with 37 points. He didn’t get any help from his backcourt mate though, as Wall was held to 5 points and 5 assists.
Backup point guard Nick Calathes filled in admirably for Mike Conley, pouring in 18 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Marc Gasol matched Calathes with 18 and was able to get Marcin Gortat in foul trouble for much of the game. The Grizzlies improved to 3-3 since Conley sprained his ankle on Jan. 31.
Charlotte Bobcats 114 (23-29), Dallas Mavericks 89 (31-22)
The Mavericks entered Tuesday’s matchup against the Bobcats on a five-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents by an average of 109-96 over that stretch. Charlotte ended the streak with authority, in large part because of Al Jefferson’s 30 points and 8 rebounds. Anthony Tolliver had 22 points (and five three-pointers) off the bench, and the Bobcats were 12-24 overall from beyond the arc.
Dallas got a scare when Dirk Nowitzki appeared to injure his ankle in the second quarter, but Nowitzki was able to return and finished with 16 points. No players on the Mavericks scored more than that. The win was Charlotte’s second in their last 19 contests against Dallas.
Cleveland Cavaliers 109 (19-33), Sacramento Kings 99 (17-35)
Yes, there was a real life Anthony Bennett sighting at the Quicken Loans Arena. Bennett recorded his first career double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and the Cavaliers are now 3-0 since firing general manager Chris Grant on Feb. 6.
Cleveland got some balanced scoring from Luol Deng (22 points), Dion Waiters (20 points), the aforementioned Bennett and Tristan Thompson (16 points). DeMarcus Cousins had 21 points and 10 rebounds and point guard Isaiah Thomas added 16 points and 8 assists, but the rest of the Kings failed to show up. Sacramento is just 2-10 in its last 12 games and now has the worst record in the Western Conference.
Chicago Bulls 100 (26-25), Atlanta Hawks 85 (25-25)
Joakim Noah had 7 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists—in the first half. The all-star center finished with 19, 16 and 11, pacing the Bulls to their second straight win in which they held their opponent under 90 points.
Taj Gibson played all but two minutes, putting up 24 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. All five Bulls starters scored in double figures, and Chicago had just eight players enter the game.
Paul Millsap led the Hawks with only 15 points, and Atlanta has lost four straight games. The lone bright spot was Kyle Korver, who made a three-pointer for a record 119th consecutive contest.
Utah Jazz 96 (18-33), Los Angeles Lakers 79 (18-34)
In a battle of Western Conference bottom dwellers, the Lakers proved to be far more inept than their counterparts. Los Angeles got off to a 27-16 first quarter lead, but Utah quickly reversed the situation by outscoring the Lakers 32-10 to take a 48-37 halftime advantage. Alec Burks was on fire off the bench, contributing 24 points to lead the team. Gordon Hayward had a near-triple double with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists.
The banged-up Lakers got limited action from their guards—Steve Nash was only able to play for 17 minutes, while Steve Blake and Kendall Marshall were a combined 5-24 shooting. Chris Kaman recorded seven straight DNP-coach’s decisions before being thrust into the lineup on Feb. 4, but he led the team on Tuesday with 25 points and 14 rebounds.