Post Up: Rockets on the Rise
James Harden leads the Rockets to a big win over the Spurs.
A back and forth game between two teams fighting for playoff positioning came down to the last two minutes. After holding tough for the first 46 minutes, Milwaukee fell apart and the Hawks outscored ‘em 12-2 down the stretch to steal a win. The Bucks led 97-92 after Monta Ellis’ hit three straight 3-pointers and Milwuakee had the rock with a chance to extend their lead but Ellis turned the ball over and Josh Smith converted a layup at the other end. That was the start of the downfall for the Bucks as they went on to commit five turnovers and did not score another field goal. Al Horford led the way with 24 points, 7 boards and 6 assists while frontcourt mate Josh Smith went for 23 points and 9 boards. Ellis scored 20 points on 8-15 shooting and Brandon Jennings finished with 12 points on 4-15 shooting and 13 dimes.
The Heat fell behind by 11 early in the first, but c’mon, did you really think the Bobcats were going to end their winning streak? Sans Dwyane Wade, who sat with a sore knee, Miami went on a 15-0 run after trailing 19-8 and blew Charlotte out the rest of the way to win their 26th straight. LeBron scored 32 (11-14 shooting), dropped 10 dimes, grabbed 8 boards, blocked 3 shots and had 3 steals. Kemba Walker scored 20 to lead Charlotte.
The Rockets took a seven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter but, with the Spurs trailing 89-83 halfway through the quarter, Tony Parker scored 10 straight points to give the Spurs a lift and a four point lead. The Rockets couldn’t buy a bucket, missing seven straight shots, and it looked like San Antonio had evaded the threat and would remain atop the Western Conference with room to breathe over Oklahoma City. But James Harden wouldn’t give up and with Houston trailing by one, the Beard nailed a tough 15-foot jumper to put the Rockets up by one with 4.5 seconds to go. Pop drew up a play for Tim Duncan after a timeout but the future Hall of Famer missed a jumper over Omer Asik and the Rockets made a major statement with the win. Harden finished with 29 points, 9 boards and 6 dimes and Chandler Parsons finished with 20 points and 8 boards. Parker scored 23 and dropped 7 dimes while Duncan scored 17 and grabbed 7 boards.
The Blazers took a 47-45 lead into the half on the road in Oklahoma City but the Thunder used a big second half to run away with a 20-point win. Serge Ibaka led the second half charge with 16 points and 7 boards and Kevin Durant scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed 10 boards while Russ Westbrook chipped in with 21. Nicolas Batum scored his 1,000th point of the season–the first time he has eclipsed 1,000 points in his career and Dame Lillard finished with 19 points and 6 assists.
Even with Joakim Noah and Rip Hamilton out, the Bulls were able to pull off a win against the undermanned Timberwolves. Minnesota went on a 10-2 run midway through the third quarter to cut Chicago’s 16-point lead down to eight heading into the fourth. Minnesota kept the pressure on in the fourth and eventually cut the lead down to five but the Wolves continually shot themselves in the foot with bad turnovers and silly fouls. A disciplined Chicago team took advantage and built their lead back to 15 to hold off the home team. Nate Robinson came off the bench to score 22 points and drop 10 dimes, Jimmy Butler scored 20 and grabbed 9 boards and Carlos Boozer finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Derrick Williams tied a career-high with 28 points and Ricky Rubio scored 15 points, dropped 8 dimes and grabbed 5 boards.
With a win over the struggling Jazz, the Mavericks are right back in the thick of the playoff hunt. At 34-36, Dallas is two games under .500 for the first time since December, 9-4 in the month of March and two games behind Los Angeles for the eighth seed in the West. Mike James led the way with a season-high 19 points, 5 dimes and 3 boards and Dirk Nowitzki scored 17 points and grabbed 6 boards.
Goran Dragic was magnificent with 31 points, 12 dimes and 9 boards but it wasn’t enough as the Suns fell behind by too much early on and the Nets held on for the dub. The Nets took a 55-43 lead into the half and looked like they were on their way to a blowout win over the hapless Suns. But Phoenix got a spark from Wesley Johnson, who scored 17 points in the third quarter, and the Suns went up 76-75 at the end of the third. The Nets pulled back ahead in the fourth and were up 102-99 with three seconds left and Dragic on the stripe. The point guard hit the first and missed the second on purpose. Hamed Haddadi grabbed the board, went up for the game-tying shot but it fell short and the Nets escaped with a win. Deron Williams led the Suns with 20 points, 11 dimes and only 1 turnover and Brook Lopez scored 21 points.
The two teams played even in the first half but the Kings got crushed in the third and fourth quarters as the Sixers outscored them 59-44 to get the double-digit win. Jrue Holiday led the way with 21 points, 10 boards and 7 dimes while Dorrell Wright (22) and Lavoy Allen (20) came up big off the bench.