Post Up: Battling For Position
The Clippers and Grizzlies both want home court advantage in the first round.
by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
Only four games last night after a loaded Friday night. There wasn’t a whole lot of relevant ball, but the Clippers and Grizzlies played a big game.
Bobcats (19-61) 95, Bucks (37-43) 85
If you’re trying to prove that you’re not a threat in the Playoffs, losing to Charlotte is a great way to do it. Last night, the Bucks simply got beat by easily the League’s worst team.
The Bobcats led by 17 after three. Kemba Walker was the team’s high-scorer with 21, and Bismack Biyombo went for 13 points, 17 boards and a pair of rejections.
Milwaukee shot sub-40 percent from the field. Mike Dunleavy was solid off the bench with 19, but their starters were just bad. Monta Ellis scored 16 on 18 shots and JJ Redick was 3-for-14.
Celtics (41-39) 120, Magic (20-60) 88
I actually like this Orlando squad, but they got blown out last night. Boston led by 21 after three quarters before expanding their lead in the fourth. Seven Celtics scored double-figures. Courtney Lee led the team with 20 points, Jeff Green scored 17 and Jordan Crawford scored 16. Easy win for the Cs.
It wasn’t all bad for Orlando, as Nikola Vucivic double-doubled with 16 and 12 and Tobias Harris scored 22. These are the exact types of moral victories the Magic have been stockpiling all season. They’re going to have a top-3 pick assuming they don’t get screwed in the lottery, and with three (protected) picks coming their way thanks to the Dwight Howard trade, they might be able to build a real team fairly soon. I still think they could have done better in the Howard deal, but they’ve got a nice future, anyway.
Clippers (54-26) 91, Grizzlies (54-26) 87
Big win for Lob City. They trailed going into the fourth, but the Grizzlies offense couldn’t do anything in the final few seconds, allowing the Clippers to ice the game at the line.
DeAndre Jordan led the Clippers in scoring. He shot 8-of-13 and finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. His 9-point, 7-board, 1.2-block numbers don’t scream “over $10 million annually,” but the Clippers will be glad to have the athletic center in the Playoffs, where every team has good bigs. Chris Paul scored 13 and Blake Griffin added 12.
Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph were big. Gasol scored 18 with 15 boards and 7 assists, while Z-Bo dropped 16 and 12.
Big picture, this game was sweet for the Clippers. Memphis and LA have the same record now with two games left. The Clippers have the tie-breaker, so they’ll grab the fourth seed if they don’t lose a game to the Grizz in the next few days. Each team is 31-9 at home. Having home court in that 4-5 matchup could be the difference.
By the way, Denver has 25 losses, so Memphis and Red LA have an outside shot at the 3 seed. Meanwhile, OKC and San Antonio each have 21 losses. The most exciting storyline in the East is “will Brooklyn face Chicago or Atlanta.” The West is a lot more fun.
Timberwolves (30-50) 105, Suns (24-56) 93
Not the most thrilling game you’ll watch all year. The T-Wolves had a comfortable lead late in the game. Ricky Rubio was strong with 24 points, 10 dimes and 5 steals. He’s had something of an up-and-down season, but he’s definitely played well enough to show that he’s mostly past last season’s terrible injury. I think next year will be a huge season for him, as long as Kevin Love plays more than 18 games (this year’s total). Each Minnesota starter scored at least 12 points, and JJ Barea chipped in 16 off the bench.
Phoenix got 20 points from Markieff Morris. His numbers (8 points, 5 boards, 40% overall) don’t look great, but he’s actually had a pretty nice season, albeit an inconsistent one. He’s capable of 15+ points and nice rebounding nights when he gets enough minutes. The Suns are a rebuilding project, and Morris is a good piece to have. Goran Dragic tallied 14 assists to go with his 10 points, but turned the ball over 6 times.
PS—this is my last regular-season Post Up, as Pete Walsh covers weekday games and the Playoffs start next weekend. Thanks to all the readers and commenters—it’s been a blast. See you in the postseason!