by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
The Heat once again proved that the East is their’s to lose this season after defeating the Knicks in comeback fashion for their 14th-straight win. The Knicks came out of the gate hot and got a huge lift from Jason Kidd, who hit four 3’s in the first half to lead the Knicks to a 14-point haltime lead. But the second half belonged to LeBron James. James, who finished with 29 points, 11 boards, 7 dimes and 3 steals in 43 minutes, took over on both ends of the floor. He finished with 19 points in the second half while shutting down Carmelo Anthony, who shot just 3-11 in the second half after a huge first half. The reigning MVP hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 79 in the third quarter then led the Heat as they outscored New York 26-16 in the fourth. LeBron put the final nail in the coffin when he picked off a J.R. Smith pass, drove the length of the floor and slammed it home to put an exclamation point on the performance. DWade finished with 20 points, 8 boards and 8 assists and Chris Bosh scored 16 but grabbed just one rebound. Melo finished with 32 points and Smith scored 12 off the bench and grabbed a game-high 12 boards.
The Thunder looked like it had this one wrapped up when they were up by 19 with about four minutes to go in the third quarter but the hometeam Clippers refused to quit and fought their way back into the game behind Chris Paul. CP3 cut the deficit to nine with a beautiful three-point play at the end of the third quarter that sparked the Clippers’ 10-0 run in the fourth that cut the Thunder lead down to two. With 1:30 left to play, Jamal Crawford hit a 3-pointer that finally put Los Angeles up 100-99. But, the Clips had no answer for Russell Westbrook down the stretch. Westbrook scored 10 of his 29 points over the final five minutes of the game and his layup following Crawford’s 3-pointer gave OKC the lead back for good. The Thunder were up two with 26 seconds left when Westbrook hit a dagger baseline jumper that ended Lob City’s chances at a comeback victory and gave OKC their third victory of the season over the Clippers. Kevin Durant was no slouch either as he finished with 35 points on 10-25 shooting, 9 boards and 4 dimes. Blake Griffin and Serge Ibaka got into it down the stretch when Ibaka hit Griffin in the groin going for a rebound. The foul resulted in a Flagarant 1 on Ibaka and nearly cost the Thunder the game as Los Angeles turned what was a three-point possession into a seven-point possession. CP3 finished with 26 points, 8 dimes, 6 boards and 4 steals.
After Brad Beal went down with 2:08 left int he fourth quarter, the Wizards were dealt a blow but John Wall put the team on his back and carried them to victory. Down 87-84, Wall scored the next four points to give D.C. a one-point lead and all momentum. Wall then blocked Evan Turner’s shot with 53 seconds and added another jumper for good measure to finish off the skidding Sixers. Wall Finished with 16 points and 6 dimes as the Wizards snapped their two-game losing streak. Beal finished with 14 points and 4 boards and Emeka Okafor held down the paint with 12 points and 16 boards. Spencer Hawes led Philly with 14 points and 11 boards.
Marc Gasol scored 12 points and dished out a career-high 11 dimes as the Grizzlies dismantled the Magic for an easy dub. Memphis led wire-to-wire and were up by as many as 32 points as six players finished in double-figures in the win. E’Twaun Moore led the Magic with 12 points, 6 dimes and 5 boards.
The Kings lost four out of five on the road but got a nice serving of home cooking with a drubbing of the Bobcats. Sacramento outscored the Bobcats 43-19 in the third quarter and took a 38-point lead into the fourth quarter to cruise to a finish. John Salmons scored 22 points in 30 minutes and Jason Thompson shot 6-8 to finish with 18 points and 14 boards. Gerald Henderson led Charlotte with 12 points.
Chandler Parsons scored a career-high 32 points on a ridiculous 12-13 shooting as the Rockets destroyed the Mavs in Houston. The Mavs actually led 52-43 halfway through the second quarter but the Rockets overwhelmed Dallas with defense, forcing nine turnovers over the next ten minutes that fueled a 36-9 run which gave Houston an insurmountable 18-point lead with 8:11 left in the third quarter. The Rockets stretched their lead to as many as 36 and the Mavs continue to fade from contention this season. James Harden scored 21 and dropped 7 dimes and Jeremy Lin also scored 21 and dished out 9 assists. O.J. Mayo led Dallas with 18 points on 6-9 shooting.
With Tony Parker sitting out his first game since Friday’s ankle injury that will keep him sidelined for the next month, the Spurs didn’t miss a beat as they steamrolled the Pistons for another convincing win. The Spurs shot 51 percent for the game and had 35 assists on 45 made baskets as four players scored in double figures. San Antonio led by as many as 37 and this one was over after the Spurs closed out the first quarter on a 20-7 run. Manu Ginobili scored 17, Danny Green scored 16, Kawhi Leonard scored 14 and Tim Duncan scored 16 and grabbed 11 boards. Greg Monroe led the Pistons with 16 points, 8 boards and 4 dimes.
The Pacers continue to separate themselves from the rest of the pack and last with last night’s win, they now have a four game lead over the Bulls and own the tiebreaker. Indiana jumped out to an early 32-21 lead that left the Bulls playing catchup for the remainder of the game. Chicago eventually tied it up early in the fourth after a Luol Deng jumper but George Hill scored five straight points for the Pacers to give Indiana the lead. The Bulls kept fighting and tied it again at 80 after Jimmy Butler hit his free throws with 7:04 left. But Chicago finally lost control when they turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions which Indiana turned into four points and a commanding lead. All Indiana had to do from there was hit their free throws and the game was their’s. David West matched his season-high with 31 points and 7 boards and George Hill scored 21 points, grabbed 6 boards and dropped 5 dimes. Marco Belinelli and Jimmy Butler each scored 20 for the Bulls.
It took 60 games but the Lakers are finally at .500 for the first time in two months and Kobe Bryant turned back the clock once again to ensure the Lakers would reach that milestone with a win over the Hawks. Kobe scored 11 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and hit the go-ahead layup with nine seconds left. The lifetime Laker finished with 34 points, 6 boards, 4 dimes, 2 steals and one huge dunk over Josh Smith that proved to be the highlight of the night (seen below). Steve Nash had 15 points and 10 dimes and Dwight Howard added 11 points and 15 boards and the Lakers are now looking like they have a legitimate chance to run off a few wins and make the stretch run race for the eighth seed interesting. Al Horford led the Hawks with 24 points and 5 boards.