Post Up: Curry Ignites Warriors

by Brett Weisband

 Raptors (41-31) 105, Celtics (23-49) 103

A putback by Amir Johnson (8 points, 8 rebounds) in the final seconds gave the Raptors the win and allowed them to clinch their first Playoff berth since 2008. 

Toronto let a 10-point lead to start the fourth slip away, but timely scoring by Kyle Lowry (9 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) and DeMar DeRozan (30 points) kept them afloat. DeRozan shot 12-27 on the night, but showed off some spectacular shot-making skills along the way.

Jerryd Bayless came off the bench to score 20 points for the Celtics, Jeff Green dropped 16 points and Rajon Rondo had 11 points and 8 assists. Boston has dropped three straight and eight of nine.

Magic (21-52) 110, Bobcats (34-38) 105 (OT)

The Magic climbed out of a double-digit hole and completed a comeback win over the Bobcats in overtime. Orlando trailed by 11 points late in the third, but battled back and sent the game to OT when Arron Afflalo (17 points, 3-9 from the floor, 9-10 from the line) drilled a 3-pointer with just seconds left in regulation. Afflalo helped seal the game with timely free throw shooting in the overtime. Nikola Vucevic was a monster for the Magic, getting his second 20-20 line of the season with 24 points and 23 rebounds – 10 of them on the offensive end.

Charlotte could have used a win in Orlando to keep pace with the Wizards, as the L dropped them 2.5 games behind Washington in the standings. Josh McRoberts was on fire for the ‘Cats, scoring 24 points while knocking down a career-best 6-12 from long-range. Kemba Walker had 24 points and 8 rebounds, while Al Jefferson put up 20 points and snagged 8 rebounds and 4 steals.

Wizards (37-35) 91, Pacers (52-21) 78

The Wizards made a statement at home on Friday, leading from the opening tip and dominating the East-leading Pacers. John Wall controlled the game for Washington despite not putting up eye-popping stats, taking what the defense gave him and finished with 20 points and 8 assists. Marcin Gortat played well against the Pacers’ tough front line, putting up 17 points and 12 boards for the Wiz.

Washington’s defense was locked in as well, pressuring the Pacers into 17 turnovers and holding them to just 35 percent shooting. Paul George posted 19 points and 9 rebounds, but once again shot miserably from the field – 6-22 overall and 1-5 from long range. George is shooting 37 percent in March. Lance Stephenson had 13 points and 14 rebounds for Indy, who failed to get any momentum going after their win over the Heat earlier in the week.

Nets (38-33) 108, Cavaliers (29-45) 97

Paul Pierce got the Nets started on the right foot, dropping 17 of his 22 points in the first quarter, and his teammates picked up the slack from there as Brooklyn got a relatively easy win over the Cavaliers. The Nets turned a tie game after one quarter into a double-digit halftime lead and didn’t trail the rest of the way, leading by as many as 17 in the fourth. Joe Johnson had 14 points on 6-8 shooting, Alan Anderson had 13 points off the bench, hitting 6-10 from the field and Shaun Livingston had 8 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists for Brooklyn.

Luol Deng and Dion Waiters each scored 20 points for the Cavs, whose chances of making the postseason are quickly fading. They sit 3.5 games behind Atlanta with just eight games to go.

Heat (49-22) 110, Pistons (26-46) 78

Miami bounced back from their loss to Indiana in a big way, breezing past the Pistons for an easy win. LeBron James posted his first triple-double since Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in just 30 minutes on the floor.

Udonis Haslem played a big role for the second straight game, scoring 17 points on 8-11 shooting after getting the start. Chris Bosh had 15 points (6-10 shooting) and 9 rebounds for the Heat, who rested Dwyane Wade after the guard tweaked a hamstring against the Pacers. The Heat dusted off several other vets, with James Jones (10 points) and Rashard Lewis (9 points) getting extended run. Miami hit 8-19 from 3-point range, a positive sign for a team that needs to find it’s stroke from long range for the Playoffs.

The Pistons shot 38 percent on another miserable offensive night. Greg Monroe and Will Bynum led the team with 12 points, and Andre Drummond had 9 points and 14 rebounds. The Pistons clanked their way to 3-24 shooting from beyond the arc as they continue to pile up losses in a lost season.

Trail Blazers (47-27) 91, Bulls (40-32) 74

It wasn’t pretty – it never is when the Bulls are involved – but the Trail Blazers picked up their second straight important win to hold ground in the crowded West. Portland pulled away from Chicago early despite a mediocre shooting performance, as their defense helped hold the offensively challenged Bulls under 40 percent shooting on the night. Mo Williams scored 18 off the bench as the high scorer in the game and Damian Lillard had 16 points and hit 3-5 from 3-point range. LaMarcus Aldridge struggled in his second game back from injury, shooting just 2-10 en route to 5 points, but did snag 13 boards.

Carlos Boozer had 16 points and 12 boards to lead the Bulls, while Joakim Noah (11 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists) and Taj Gibson (13 points, 10 rebounds) also recorded double-doubles. The Bulls clinched a Playoff spot thanks to a Knicks loss later in the night. 

Timberwolves (36-35) 143, Lakers (24-48) 107

In a season full of lows, the Lakers may have hit another one in Minnesota on Friday. They got torched by the Timberwolves, who scored a season-high 143 points, setting a franchise record for points in a regulation game in the 36-point blowout. Kevin Love, widely assumed to be a player the Lakers covet, registered a triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in just 29 minutes to lead the Wolves. The rest of the front court kicked the Lakers’ tail as well, with Nikola Pekovic returning from an ankle injury to drop in 26 points and Gorgui Dieng going for 14 points and 9 boards off the bench. Minny shot an absurd 67 percent from the field – not a typo – and had seven players in double figures.

Kent Bazemore got the start and scored 21 points to lead L.A., while Jodie Meeks contributed 19. The Lakers managed to get up 26 more shots than the Wolves did in this beatdown, but shot 23 percent worse from the floor. The Lakers gave up 125 points or more seven times in March. Ouch.

Pelicans (32-40) 102, Jazz (23-50) 95

The Pelicans lost Anthony Davis just four minutes into the game, but overcame the absence of their all-world big man thanks to a career night from Tyreke Evans. The combo guard, who struggled for much of the season, took over in this game and posted 22 points and a career-high 15 assists as the Pellies won their fifth straight game, the longest streak of this injury-plagued season. Evans scored or assisted on the Pellies’ last four field goals to stretch the lead to six points before New Orleans finished the game off at the line. Anthony Morrow had 20 points and hit 3-4 triples and Darius Miller had his second straight strong game off the bench with 12 points.

Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 21 points and 7 assists and Derrick Favors had an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double for the Jazz. Utah, losers of nine of their last 10 games, shot 48.5 percent but turned the ball over 18 times.

Thunder (53-19) 94, Kings (25-47) 81

The Thunder turned up the defense in a game nowhere near as close as the final score, picking up a home win over the Kings. Kevin Durant extended his streak of 25-plus scoring games to 37 games, netting 29 points on a tidy 9-11 shooting performance, throwing in 6 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Russell Westbrook pitched in an efficient 18 points, hitting 7-12 from the field, as the Thunder led by as many as 32 points in the fourth quarter before the Kings closed the gap in garbage time. Jeremy Lamb scored 13 points off the bench in 33 minutes, the most he’s played in a game in two months.

Sacramento was held to 36.5 percent shooting on the night and had eight of their shots rejected, four of them by Serge Ibaka (8 points, 8 rebounds). DeMarcus Cousins got himself into foul trouble and finished with just 4 points and 4 rebounds. Rudy Gay’s struggle was just as real, as the swingman scored just 7 points. Gay and Cousins combine to score more than 42 points per game on average. Ben McLemore led the Kings with 18 points, as Sacramento was once again without an injured Isaiah Thomas, out with a quad injury.

Spurs (56-16) 133, Nuggets (32-41) 102

San Antonio rolled to yet another win, their 16th straight, running the Nuggets off of the floor in Denver. No Spur logged even 30 minutes in the blowout, another piece of evidence that Gregg Popovich is a genius. Adding to Pop’s case, Marco Belinelli led the Spurs with 27 points, including 6-9 shooting from deep. Tim Duncan put up 20 points and 8 rebounds in 22 minutes, while Tony Parker (4 points, 2-9 shooting) was only needed for 19 minutes. The Spurs shot 56 percent on the game and knocked down 13-24 triples.

Randy Foye led the Nuggets with 20 points and hit 4-7 from long range, while Kenneth Faried posted a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Suns (44-29) 112, Knicks (30-43) 88

The endlessly fun Suns sprinted past the Knicks, proving that orange jerseys don’t have to equate to a loss. Phoenix won its sixth straight, a season-long streak, as their incredible backcourt duo put on a show. Goran Dragic scored 32 points in as many minutes on 11-17 shooting and Eric Bledsoe put up 16 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Markieff Morris went for 16 points and 8 rebounds off the bench for the Suns, while Miles Plumlee (11 points, 12 rebounds) recorded a double-double. At the end of the night, the Suns sat in seventh in the West, with a half-game lead over the Grizzlies and a full game on the Mavericks.

Carmelo Anthony had 21 points on 8-20 shooting and Amar’e Stoudemire had 19 for the Knicks, who missed a chance to gain ground in their desperate chase for a spot in the postseason.

Warriors (45-27) 100, Grizzlies (43-29) 93

Playing without both members of their starting frontcourt for the majority of the game, the Warriors turned to their superstar to deliver a win, and Steph Curry sure did deliver. Curry hit two of the biggest shots in a 14-0 Warriors run to close the game, splashing in a 3-pointer to break a 93-all tie, following that with a ridiculous one-handed scoop shot to seal the deal.

Draymond Green stepped up in the absence of David Lee, out with a hamstring strain, and Andrew Bogut, who left in the first quarter with a pelvis injury. Green had 12 points and 9 rebounds off the bench, stepping out to hit a crucial triple in the closing run. Marreese Speights held his own in the start, putting up 15 points on 7-9 shooting and 8 rebounds, and Klay Thompson pitched in 14 points as the Warriors gave themselves a tiny bit of breathing room in the air-tight Western Conference.

For all Speights and Green did on offense, they got abused by Zach Randolph on the other end. Z-Bo put up 21 points on an array of step-backs and lefty drives, hitting 10-16 from the floor. Mike Conley scored 20 points and Marc Gasol had 17 for Memphis.