by Brett Weisband

Pacers (51-18) 91, Bulls (38-31) 79

In a game that was every bit the slugfest you’d expect from these teams, the Pacers landed the most blows and bested the Bulls. Paul George posted a triple-double (10 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) and Luis Scola had 19 off the bench to lead Indiana to the win. The Pacers’ defense was locked in, holding the Bulls to 36 percent shooting while blocking 9 shots.

On top of having their offense snuffed out, the Bulls got crushed on the boards, 51-36. Jimmy Butler and D.J. Augustin scored 17 points apiece to top the scoring column for Chicago. Joakim Noah posted 13 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 blocks in the losing effort. 

Knicks (29-40) 93, 76ers (15-54) 92

Two streaks nearly ended in Philadelphia, as the 76ers mounted a massive comeback on the Knicks in the fourth quarter after Mike Woodson pulled his starters. Philly went on a 16-1 run over four and a half minutes, cutting and 18-point Knicks’ lead down to 92-90 with 32 seconds to go before Woodson put his regulars back in. James Anderson committed a critical turnover and Michael Carter-Williams (22 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists) missed a last-second 3-point try to allow the Knicks to escape.

Amar’e Stoudemire had a throwback game with 22 points and 10 rebounds, dunking with authority on several occasions, while Carmelo Anthony struggled shooting the ball (5-16 from the field) en route to 21. Thaddeus Young had 21 points for the Sixers, who took attempted a franchise-record 41 3-pointers in the loss, hitting 10 of them. Philadelphia’s losing streak has now hit 23 games, while the Knicks have won eight straight.

Thunder (51-18) 119, Raptors (38-30) 118 (2OT)

In a game that had all the twists and turns basketball fans love this time of year, Kevin Durant (51 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists) dropped in a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in double overtime to go over the 50-point mark and cap off an improbable comeback for OKC. The Thunder trailed 118-110 with under a minute to go, but KD and Derek Fisher hit 3-pointers 30 seconds apart to cut the lead down. Toronto threw away the inbounds pass, but KD lost control of the ball on a layup attempt. John Salmons missed two FTs for the Raps, giving Durant a crack at the game winner.

It wasn’t all KD daggers and sunshine for OKC, though: Russell Westbrook (15 points) banged his surgically repaired right knee with Kyle Lowry and had to leave the game in the third quarter. Reggie Jackson stepped up in his absence, scoring 25 off the pine.

The two teams traded blows throughout the fourth quarter and first OT. Kyle Lowry (25 points) calmly sank a triple to tie it up at the end of the first overtime, while Amir Johnson (25 points, 12 rebounds) was everywhere for the Raptors all night. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 33 points, who sit 1.5 games ahead of Brooklyn in the Atlantic.

Pelicans (28-40) 111, Hawks (31-36) 105

Anthony Davis has been laying waste to everything in his path lately, and the Atlanta Hawks were added to his list of victims on Friday. Davis put up 34 points and 11 rebounds in ATL, and he’s averaging 32.5 points and 13.9 rebounds over his last seven games played. AD got help from Tyreke Evans (21 points), who has awoken from his season-long slumber in the last few weeks. The Pelicans lost Eric Gordon to a sore knee in the first quarter.

Jeff Teague had 26 points and 8 rebounds for Atlanta, while Paul Millsap pitched in 20. The Hawks allowed the Knicks to gain a game on them for the 8-seed in the East, with their lead now down to 3 games.

Nets (36-31) 114, Celtics (23-47) 98

Brooklyn was scorching on Friday night, lighting up the Celtics in a blowout win. Joe Johnson caught fire from deep, hitting 6-8 triples and scoring 27 points to lead the Nets, winners of six of their last seven games. Mason Plumlee had 18 points on 6-7 shooting and Paul Pierce scored 14 points in just 19 minutes as Brooklyn hit 56 percent from the field as a team.

Avery Bradley continued his hot shooting, going for 28 points on 12-19 shooting while hitting 4-9 from beyond the arc. Rajon Rondo had 12 points and 12 assists for the C’s.

Heat (47-20) 91, Grizzlies (40-28) 86

The madness continued in Miami, with the Heat cranking it up late to squeeze past the Grizzlies. Trailing 84-77 with four minutes to go, Miami uncorked an 11-0 run to take the lead. Ray Allen (18 points) hit a triple to start the run, and then finished the Grizzlies off with a breakaway dunk. Jesus Shuttlesworth led Miami in scoring for the third time in five games. The Heat’s Big Three had an off night, combining for just 43 points, but LeBron James (15 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists) and Dwyane Wade (14 points) both made clutch plays down the stretch.

Zach Randolph was a beast for Memphis, going for 25 points and 14 rebounds, but he couldn’t get a crucial foul call late as Miami made its comeback. Marc Gasol had 14 points but had to leave with an ankle injury in the third quarter.

Mavericks (42-28) 122, Nuggets (31-38) 106

Dallas held the Nuggets off in the second half and pulled away down the stretch, moving a game ahead of Memphis in the Western Conference standings. Monta Ellis had an efficient 26 points to lead the Mavs, shooting 11-14 from the field, and Dirk Nowitzki pitched in 21 points on 9-15 shooting. The Mavs shot 54 percent as a whole and hit 12-22 from deep.

J.J. Hickson had 18 points and 8 rebounds off the bench for the Nuggets, while Ty Lawson put up 17 points and 9 assists. Denver got within three points midway through the fourth before Dallas went on a 10-3 run to ice it. 

Suns (40-29) 98, Pistons (25-43) 92

Phoenix needed every bit of Eric Bledsoe’s monster effort as they fought off the Pistons down the stretch. Bledsoe had his best game since knee surgery, as he scored 15 of his 23 points in the fourth to help the Suns survive a tight final quarter. Bledsoe hit a triple to break an 86-all tie, then hit a layup and a string of free throws to secure the win.

Goran Dragic netted 20 points and Markieff Morris chipped in 16 points and 8 rebounds off the bench, also hitting a clutch 3-pointer down the stretch. Coupled with the Grizzlies’ loss, Phoenix was able to move within a half-game of the final Playoff spot.

Rodney Stuckey scored 23 off the bench to lead the Pistons, while Andre Drummond (13 points, 16 rebounds) and Josh Smith (15 points, 10 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles. Smith was 0-8 at the free throw line, as the Pistons shot an astoundingly bad 10-26 from the stripe.

Spurs (52-16) 99, Kings (24-45) 79

Gregg Popovich’s black-and-silver machine rolled on despite a quietly terrible offensive night as the Spurs picked up their 12th straight win, dismantling the Kings in Sacramento. Marco Belinelli (17 points, 7-12 shooting) led six Spurs in double figures, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker scored 14 points each and Tiago Splitter (11 points, 11 rebounds) notched a double-double for San Antonio. The Spurs had one of their worst shooting nights of the year, hitting just 38 percent from the floor, but made up for it by grabbing 13 offensive rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 18 points, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third quarter, and DeMarcus Cousins put up 15 points and 13 rebounds. Of small note: Royce White made his (kind of) long-awaited NBA debut for the Kings, joining Harvey Pollack’s “trillionaire club” in the final minute of the game.

Wizards (36-33) 117, Lakers (22-46) 107

Washington fought off the Lakers down the stretch, both physically and on the scoreboard. John Wall led the way with 28 points and 14 assists, Bradley Beal dropped 18 points and Marcin Gortat had 13 points and 13 boards for the Wizards, who bounced back from two straight losses. Sparks flew in the final minutes, as Drew Gooden nearly tore Nick Young’s arm off and Jordan Hill tackled Gortat in his teammate’s defense, leading to ejections for Gooden and Hill.

Steve Nash returned to the lineup for the Lakers, dishing out 11 assists in 19 minutes on the floor, while Swaggy P and Jodie Meeks topped the scoring column with 21 points each. L.A. has dropped four straight games, and the team hasn’t held an opponent under 106 points in any game in March.