Post Up: Crunch Time
The playoff picture is still unfolding as the season nears its end.
Toronto rookie Jonas Valanciunas has been playing great to end the season and put together arguably his best game as a pro last night. The big man scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Toronto over a hot Wizards team. Valanciunas was most impressive from the stripe, where he shot 16-18, and gives the Raptors a lot to look forward to next season. A lineup of Lowry-DeRozan-Gay-Valnciunas-Amir Johnson with Terrence Ross coming off the bench could be a problem. John Wall finished with 20 points and 5 assists to lead the Wizards.
Charlotte trailed by 16 in the second quarter but wouldn’t go away and crawled back into the game and eventually took the lead. The two teams battled back and forth through the third and fourth quarters and Philly tied it up at 80 with 2:30 left in regulation after an Evan Turner jumper. The Bobcats responded with an alley-oop from Kemba Walker to Josh McRoberts to give them a two point lead. Jrue Holiday hit a bucket of his own to tie it up and one of two free throws from Damien Wilkins made it 83-82 in favor of Philadelphia. Gerald Henderson then hit a jumper to give the Bobcats the lead back. He followed that up by stealing the ensuing inbounds pass and driving in for an uncontested layup to give Charlotte a safe three point cushion. Walker shot 6-14 and finished with 17 points and 10 dimes while Gerald Henderson scored 24. Jrue Holiday shot a pitiful 2-24 for 5 points and Wilkins scored 20 and grabbed 9 rebounds.
Ten games, ten straight wins for the New York Knickerbockers. Carmelo Anthony once again was the focal point of the Knick offense and finished with 40 points, one night after dropping 50 on the Heat. The game was tied up at 72 in the fourth quarter when the Knicks went on a 12-2 run that gave the Knicks an 84-74 lead. The Knicks are now in sole possession of second place in the East. J.R. Smith scored 19 off the bench and Ray Felton scored 14 points. Kyle Korver scored 25 points.
The Nets ended their eight-game road trip in blowout fashion with an easy win over the Cavs. This game was over by the end of the second quarter. In the second, Brooklyn shot 83 percent from the field to take a 30-point lead. The win guarantees the Nets their first winning road record since the teams inception. Cleveland has lost ten straight games. Deron Williams finished with 24 points and 8 dimes while MarShon Brooks got the start and scored 27 points on 12-16 shooting. Kyrie Irving scored 16 points and dropped 6 dimes.
Despite getting abused inside, the Celtics held on for the win and are now officially in the playoffs for the sixth straight season. Boston led by as many as 18 but the Pistons closed the third quarter on an 11-0 run and eventually cut the deficit down to two. Jeff Green finally stopped the bleeding with a corner 3-pointer to give the Celtics a 96-91 lead. Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each scored 17 points and Green scored 34 on 13-19 shooting. Greg Monroe scored 24 and grabbed 17 boards while Rodney Stuckey scored 22.
Nikola Pekovic scored 27 points and Ricky Rubio put together a ridiculous 18-point, 12-assist, 8-steal stat line to lead the Timberwolves over the Bucks. The T-Wolves outscored the Bucks 58-38 in the paint and shot over 50 percent from the field and 60 percent from three to get the dub. Ersan Ilyasova scored 29 points and grabbed 9 boards and Monta Ellis finished with 18 points on 7-20 shooting.
San Antonio led wire-to-wire, outrebounded the Magic 53-47 and got 20 points from Danny Green to get an easy dub over the Magic. Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard all sat while Tim Duncan played just 14 minutes. The win meant San Antonio avoided their first three-game losing streak since 2011. Gary Neal scored 16 off the bench and grabbed 8 rebounds. Nicola Vucevic scored 16 points and grabbed 14 boards and Moe Harkless continued his strong play with 18 points and 9 boards.
Last night’s loss bumped the Jazz from the eighth seed and the Lakers now have sole possession of the final playoff spot in the West. The Nuggets opened up the third quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 64-51 lead and kept pouring it on from there. Utah missed six straight shots after the half and didn’t score until the seven minute mark of the third, allowing Denver to bump their lead to 15. The Nuggets cruised from there, pushing their lead to 21 and handing Utah an bad loss. Danilo Gallinari scored 21 points, Kenneth Faried scored 19 and rookie Evan Fournier scored 18 on 7-9 shooting. Ty Lawson sat again with a plantar fasciitis tear. Gordon Hayward scored 18 points.
James Harden made his return after missing two games due to a sore foot and scored 21 points while dishing out 9 assists and grabbing 7 boards to pace the Rockets. The Kings threatened late in the game, cutting the deficit to five with just over two minutes remaining. But, Jeremy Lin had nailed a dagger 3-pointer that put Houston up eight and put momentum back in Houston’s favor. Lin finished with 15 points and 10 dimes and Chandler Parsons scored 29 on 12-18 shooting.
Memphis led wire-to-wire to give them the win and the most road victories in franchise history. Mike Conley scored 20, Zach Randolph scored 17 points and had 8 assists to pace the Grizz, who are now tied with Denver for third place in the West. Portland is ending the season on a down note, scoring just 30 points in the second half en route to their sixth straight loss. J.J. Hickson scored 17 and grabbed 9 boards while Dame Lillard had 17 points and 6 dimes.
DeAndre Jordan scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed 12 boards to lead the Clippers to thier franchise-best 50th win of the season. Lob City led wire-to-wire and were up by as many as 28 in a dominating win against the hapless Suns. CP3 scored 15 points and dropped 12 dimes and Caron Butler finished with 15. Wesley Johnson scored 20 for the Suns.
With last night’s win, the Warriors hold a one game lead over the Rockets for sixth place in the West. The Warriors trailed 28-19 after one but Steph Curry hit four straight shots to open the second quarter as Golden State went on a 28-10 run and never looked back. Curry finished with 20 points and 9 assists while David Lee scored 23 points and grabbed 16 boards. Eric Gordon led the Hornets with 21 points.