by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
Pete Walsh is too devastated about the season of Girls ending to work, so I’m picking up his shift. Yesterday the Heat tied the second-longest single-season win streak in NBA history, Monta Ellis went off and the Clippers handled a Knicks squad minus its three best players.
Heat (51-14) 108, Raptors (26-41) 91
With 11 minutes to play in Toronto, the Heat and Raptors were tied at 77. With 4:39 left, Miami led 105-81. That’s a 28-4 run, leading to the Heat’s 22nd straight win.
They’ve swept through more than a quarter of the season, and there’s no reason to think they’ll slow down any time soon. LeBron James was extremely efficient on Sunday, needing only 12 shots to pile up 22 points with 12 boards and 8 assists. Dwyane Wade added 24 and 9 dimes, Chris Bosh scored 18 and Ray Allen dropped 20 off the bench. The Heat shot 58 percent overall and 10-of-22 from downtown.
Toronto’s Rudy Gay made 11-of-20 shots for 27 points. He has now shot over 50 percent from the floor in two straight games—only the second such streak this season for him. He’s shooting below 40 percent since coming to Toronto.
In fairness to the volume shooter, teams need a guy who can put points on the board against anybody. Gay did that yesterday, and it kept the Raptors in the game for three and a half quarters.
Amir Johnson posted 18 points and 18 boards, and has 39 rebounds over his last two games. Jonas Valanciunas also scored 18, and rookie Terrance Ross chipped in 12 off the bench.
Kyle Lowry was terrible, as he missed all seven of his attempts from the field in the loss. In nine games this month, he’s failed to reach eight points five times and hasn’t eclipsed 15 points. In a move I loved at the time, Toronto gave up a lottery pick for Lowry this summer. The deal may turn out to be a bust.
Bucks (33-32) 115, Magic (18-49) 109
Orlando took an 83-70 lead into the fourth quarter before the Bucks went absolutely bonkers. Monta Ellis dropped 25 alone in the final period, and his team totaled 45 fourth-quarter points to pick up a come-from-behind win.
Ellis shot 13-of-22 overall, including 5-of-6 from deep, and finished with 39. He’s averaging over 26 points per game so far in March. Brandon Jennings (4/15, 15 points) wasn’t nearly as good, but he did rack up 14 dimes.
Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova each snagged 11 rebounds and totaled 33 points. JJ Redick scored just 4 points against his former team.
Orlando got nice games from each of their starters. Arron Afflalo led the team with 26 points, Mo Harkless scored 23 with 9 boards, Nikola Vucevic kept rolling with 20 and 15, Jameer Nelson went for 16, 7 and 4 steals and Tobias Harris, who came over for Redick, scored 14 points with 8 rebounds.
Those five have been a very solid unit, but the bench has been unproductive. The Magic reserves combined for 12 points.
Clippers (46-21) 93, Knicks (38-26) 80
New York was shorthanded on Sunday and it showed. Their starting front line featured Chris Copeland (5/11), Kenyon Martin (2/6) and Kurt Thomas (1/5). JR Smith predictably tried to overcompensate for the absence of Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire, and shot 4-of-20 off the bench. The Knicks hit shy of 36 percent of their shots.
Chris Paul was in command of the game the whole way, and finished with 20 points (6/12), 8 dimes and just one turnover. Caron Butler knocked down 4 threes on his way to 14 points and Blake Griffin double-doubled.
The Knicks are slipping. They’ve lost their last four, and lead Brooklyn by two games in the loss column. The difference between the 3 and 4 seed is big, as the third seed wouldn’t see Miami until the Conference Finals, but the 4 seed would matchup with the Heat in the second round. New York is still tied for the 2-seed with Indiana (two straight losses), but I like the Pacers to get back on track and claim the spot.
Timberwolves (23-41) 97, Hornets (22-45) 95
New Orleans led by four with a minute left before the T-Wolves stormed back. Ricky Rubio converted an and-one, and Nikola Pekovic knocked down a pair from the line on the following possession. The Hornets had a couple of chances late, but couldn’t convert.
Derrick Williams broke out and led Minnesota witn 28 points. He hit 3 threes and grabbed 7 rebounds. Rubio went for 16 and 6, and Pek scored 13.
Greivis Vasquez scored 24 for the Hornets, and Robin Lopez added 20 and 11. Rookie Anthony Davis finished with 17 points, 9 boards, 3 steals and a block, and is really coming on over the last couple of weeks.
Both teams had trouble hanging onto the ball. New Orleans committed 20 turnovers and the T-Wolves coughed it up 18 times. Minnesota lost the rebounding battle by 14 (41-27), but shot 56 percent from the field and got to the line 27 times.
Warriors (38-30) 108, Rockets (36-31) 78
About a month ago, the Rockets dropped 140 on Golden State. Last night, they were held to about half that. James Harden played well (21 points, 10 boards, 8 assists, 3 steals), but the bench was brutal and Chandler Parsons (2/13) and Donatas Motiejunas (2/11) had bad nights. The Rockets shot under 33 percent overall.
Golden State got 29 points and 11 assists from Stephen Curry and 26 points from Klay Thompson. The two combined for 11 threes on 20 tries. Andrew Bogut double-doubled—welcome production from the oft-injured Aussie. David Lee also double-doubled.
It was a big win for the Warriors, who have been losing some ground over the last few weeks. They’re now a game ahead of the Rockets in the loss column in the race for the sixth seed in the West. Houston leads the Lakers and Jazz by one game. One of the four teams will miss the Playoffs.
Thunder (50-17) 107, Mavericks (31-35) 101
This game was close the whole way, but the Thunder pulled ahead with 9:27 left and never trailed again.
Russell Westbrook (35, 6, 6), Kevin Durant (31 & 9) and Serge Ibaka (18, 16 and 3 blocks) all played great for OKC. The Thunder made only 5-of-21 threes, but 24-of-30 free throws.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting. He connected on 3 threes and grabbed 7 rebounds. Vince Carter came off the bench for 18 points.
Hawks (37-29) 105, Nets (38-28) 93
The Nets led by two after three before getting blown out in the fourth.
Atlanta got 22 points, 11 boards and 4 steals from Al Horford. Josh Smith dropped 21, and Kyle Korver hit a couple of threes on his way to 12 points.
Reggie Evans scored 14 points and grabbed 22 boards for the Nets. It’s the second time he’s tallied at least 20 boards in the last 5 games. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each scored 18 points. Brook Lopez shot 7-of-19 for 17 points.
It was a big game between these two teams, which are jockeying to avoid getting obliterated by Miami in the Playoffs for as long as possible. The Nets have a pretty nice record, but they tend to flop in big games. Still, they have some great talent. I frankly have no idea what they’ll do in the Playoffs. They’re probably capable of a lot, but they haven’t shown it. The Hawks are a first-round knockout waiting to happen.
Lakers (36-32) 113, Kings (23-44) 102
The Kings cut a big deficit down to two with 8:30 left, but the Lakers outplayed them from there. Antawn Jamison stepped up with Kobe Bryant out, scoring 27 points with 9 boards off the bench. It’s been a long year for Jamison, who was a 17 and 6 guy last year.
Only seven guys suited up for the Lakers, including Metta World Peace, who shot 10-of-13 for 22 points. Both Steve Nash (19 and 12) and Dwight Howard (12 and 17) double-doubled.
Isaiah Thomas led Sacramento with 26 points. Patrick Patterson scored 22 on just 12 shots, and Marcus Thornton came off the bench for 15. Sacramento hit 10 threes and committed only 6 turnovers. However, they let Yellow LA shoot 57 percent and outrebound them by 10.