by Brett Weisband | @weisband
Bobcats (26-30) 90, Pelicans (23-31) 87
It took a bunch of missed free throws to decide it, but Charlotte pulled out a tight win over the Pelicans. Al Jefferson was a dominant force, scoring 33 points and snagging 10 rebounds. With the game on the line, the teams combined to miss four free throws in the final 30 seconds to prolong the action. Anthony Davis, who fouled out, had 18 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks, while Brian Roberts led Nola in the scoring column with 20.
Magic (17-40) 129, Knicks (22-34) 121 (2OT)
After an extra 10 minutes, the Magic were able to rally past the Knicks for a home win. Victor Oladipo had the game of his young career, putting up 30 points, 14 assists and narrowly missing a triple double with 9 rebounds. Arron Afflalo had 32 for Orlando, while Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Carmelo Anthony played nearly the entire game, logging 50 minutes for the Knicks. He did everything he could to keep New York in it, putting up 44 points, but scored just 14 in the final 22 minutes of game action. New York squandered an opportunity to win at the end of regulation when Melo stepped out of bounds with under 30 seconds to go, then ran out of gas in the second overtime.
Mavericks (33-23) 124, 76ers (15-41) 112
The Mavericks had their way with the shorthanded Sixers, picking up an easy win in Philly. Dallas shot an astounding 62 percent on the night against a non-existent Philadelphia defense, with all but one player on the roster getting into the scoring column. Dirk Nowitzki went for 25 on 9-12 shooting, while Shawn Marion hit 11-14 for his 22 points.
The Sixers’ roster was ravaged by a series of trades on Thursday, leaving them with just eight active players. Thad Young put up 30 points and 13 boards, taking a career-high 29 shots, while Michael Carter-Williams had 25 points.
Raptors (30-25) 98, Cavaliers (22-34) 91
Toronto rallied back in the second half, ending Cleveland’s six-game winning streak. After being down by five points at halftime, the Raptors blew the Cavs out in the third quarter, winning the frame by 16. Terrence Ross led the Raps with 20, while Jonas Valanciunas had 18 boards (8-12 shooting) and 8 boards.
Kyrie Irving struggled mightily for the Cavs, with an ugly 3-16 shooting night on his way to 17 points. Luol Deng put up 20, but was similarly inefficient with a 6-15 shooting night. Cleveland managed to keep it close despite shooting 39 percent on the night.
Pistons (23-32) 115, Hawks (25-29) 107
Detroit put together a rare all-around team effort, dispatching the Hawks. All three of the Pistons’ high-priced, ill-fitting front court members had double doubles, led by Greg Monroe’s 22 and 15. Andre Drummond had 20 and 11 boards, 5 of them on the offensive end, along with 3 steals, while Josh Smith had 17 and 10. Detroit shot 54 percent from the field and was able to secure the win despite hitting just 13-29 free throws.
The Hawks’ season seems to be spiraling out of control, with all of their injuries catching up to them. They’ve now dropped eight games in a row and are facing the very real possibility of falling out of the Playoffs. Detroit moved within 2.5 games of them with the result of this game. Paul Millsap put in work for the Pistons, scoring 23 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. Mike Scott poured in 20 off the bench, continuing an underrated season, while Shelvin Mack hit for another 21.
Bulls (29-25) 117, Nuggets (25-29) 89
Chicago keeps chugging along in the East, putting a hurting on the Nuggets to strengthen their Playoff position. D.J. Augustin led the charge with 22 points off the bench, while fellow reserve Tony Snell pitched in a career-high 20. In all, seven Bulls scored in double figures, with Joakim Noah leading the starters with 14 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks. Chicago went up by 20 points in the first quarter, a deficit the Nuggets never rallied from.
Randy Foye scored 23 for Denver and Aaron Brooks put up 17 in his debut, but no one else managed to crack double digits for the Nugs, who shot just 40 percent on the night.
Grizzlies (31-23) 102, Clippers (37-20) 96
Squaring off with their old foes, Memphis gritted out a win over the Clippers in what might be the hottest rivalry in the League. Zach Randolph had 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead a balanced effort, while his frontcourt partner Marc Gasol went for 17 and 10. James Johnson came off the bench to score 15, hustling all over the court and knocking down 6-10 shots. He had one of the plays of the year when he lobbed an alley-oop to himself off the glass on the same night he was honored with a neck tattoo giveaway at the arena. Memphis also welcomed back Tony Allen, who hit all four of his shots for 9 points.
The Clippers dropped their second straight, shooting under 39 percent in a game filled with hard fouls. Blake Griffin put up 28 points against a team he’s had his struggles against, grabbing 13 rebounds as well. L.A. chipped away at a Memphis lead throughout the second half, drawing within two points with a minute to go, but couldn’t get over the hump. Chris Paul struggled from the field, shooting 4-13, but had 18 points and 14 assists. Jamal Crawford dropped 23 while getting the start, but the bench unit was awful, scoring just 7 points in total.
Suns (33-21) 106, Spurs (40-16) 85
Phoenix ran past the Spurs, pulling away in the second quarter and never taking their foot off the gas. The Morris twins helped lead the charge, with Markieff going for 21 points (8-10 shooting), 5 rebounds and 5 assists while Marcus had 13 points. Ish Smith, the Suns’ lightning-quick backup PG, picked up the slack for a struggling Goran Dragic (8 points, 3-10 shooting), hitting for 15 points off the bench.
The Spurs ended their nine-game rodeo road trip with a thud, shooting just 35 percent. Gregg Popovich pulled the plug early, with only one starter logging 30 minutes (Danny Green, 15 points). Tim Duncan had 13 points, playing just 21 minutes in the lost effort.
Trail Blazers (37-18) 102, Jazz (19-35) 94
Once again playing without their leader, the Trail Blazers gutted out a win at home over the Jazz. With LaMarcus Aldridge on the shelf, Damian Lillard picked up the scoring burden. The All Star went off for 28 points (11-28 shooting), including 14 in the fourth quarter, while Wesley Matthews hit for 24 points. Robin Lopez helped hold things down without his frontcourt mate, notching a double double with 12 points and 18 rebounds. The Blazers weren’t quite right offensively, shooting just 43 percent on the night, but snapped a three-game skid.
The Jazz put up a good fight, getting solid efforts from youngsters Enes Kanter (career-high 25 points, 10 rebounds) and Trey Burke (21 points, 7 assists). Utah got within two points in the fourth quarter, but the Blazers held them at arm’s length, answering every rally with a big shot of their own. The Jazz were without starting center Derrick Favors for the second straight game as he nurses a hip injury.
Lakers (19-36) 101, Celtics (19-37) 92
Armed with something resembling a full roster, the Lakers were able to dispatch the Celtics at the Staples Center. Los Angeles had six players score in double figures, breaking an eight-game losing streak at home. Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks both made their team debuts, scoring 15 and 14 points respectively after barely getting off the bench when they played for Golden State. Pau Gasol, Jodie Meeks and Chris Kaman all put up 16 for L.A., who topped their historic rivals in a season where both are in a spot they’re unaccustomed to: the basement.
Jeff Green scored 21 and Brandon Bass put in 20 for the Celtics, who shot 39 percent for the night. Rajon Rondo handed out 11 assists, while Jared Sullinger had 12 points and 12 boards. The Celtics dropped their third straight game and got swept in the season series with the Lakers during this down year.