by Adam Figman | @afigman
Like almost all of the other Bulls-Heat matchups, this came down to the wire, with LeBron James (26 points), Chris Bosh (23) and Dwyane Wade (20) taking turns offensively for Miami and Derrick Rose (27 points) doing damage for Chicago. The Bulls were down two with 10 or so seconds to go in the fourth, and Luol Deng headed to the line to shoot two. He hit the first and bricked the second, but was fouled going for the rebound and earned two more chances at the stripe, both of which he converted. Down one and with the ball, Miami ran a James/Wade pick-and-roll, and with LeBron swarmed by Joakim Noah, he attempted a drive to the hoop and couldn’t finish a lefty lay-up that would’ve given the Heat the lead. DWade grabbed the rebound and tried for a last-second fadeaway attempted, but couldn’t hit that either, and Miami fell in the final seconds yet again. After yesterday, the Heat are now shooting 1-18 in the fourth quarter’s final 10 seconds this season. I’ll go ahead and let you guys analyze that lil’ figure. The loss was Lebron and Co.’s fourth straight.
People made jokes about the Lakers planning on turning it up after the All-Star break, but, um, yeah—that’s happening. They absolutely dominated the League-best Spurs yesterday, winning their seventh straight since ASW behind a well-balanced attack and some strong defense. (San Antonio was held to just 36 percent shooting from the field.) Kobe Bryant led the Lake Show with 26, while Pau Gasol put in 21.
The Pistons shot well from both the floor (51.6 percent) and the stripe (85.7 percent), denying the Wizards a chance at their second road win this season. Charlie Villanueva scored all 16 of his points in the second, and Tayshaun Prince led Detroit with 20 in the victory. But, most impressively, he did this.
Two young, exciting and relatively overlooked squads went head-to-head in Philly yesterday, fighting right into extra time after Andre Iguodala (who had a 15-11-10 triple-double) missed a fadeaway at the end of regulation. The Sixers pulled it out in the final session, when Iggy sealed it with his 10th dime on a pass to Evan Turner, who finished with a dunk in the open court. Philadelphia has now won six of seven, and is sitting at seventh in the East, ready to pounce if the Knicks happen to slip up and lose a few games. (Segue alert!)
Would any of the top four teams in the East really want to be matched up with the Knicks this April? At times, they’ve been awful (See: Any tilt against the Cavs), but they’ve shown flashes of greatness, like when they ran all over the Hornets, and yesterday, when they took down the Hawks with a solid fourth quarter and some nice defense. (Only allowing 79 points is decent defensive progress, I’d say.) Amar’e Stoudemire led NYK with 26, while Josh Smith led ATL with just 17.
The Hornets easily defeated the Cavs, which isn’t too newsworthy, but what happened to Chris Paul certainly was. CP3 banged collided with Ramon Sessions in the third quarter, and went down hard, having to be removed via stretcher. Fortunately, Chris tweeted “Thanks for all the prayers and support! All the test came back negative. Glad the fellas pulled out the Win! I’ll be back in action ASAP!!!” late last night, so it appears he’ll be alright, but definitely a scary moment for New Orleans fans and fans of good people in general. David West scored a game-high 23 points in the road victory.
After erasing an 18-point Mavs lead in the third quarter, the Grizz capped their comeback with a Zach Randolph (27 points) jumper that flew through the hoop with just 0.3 seconds remaining. Jason Terry scored 26 for the Mavs, who lost the regular season series with Memphis for the first time ever.
Kevin Durant shot just 3-14, but Russell Westbrook (32 points) and James Harden (26 points) picked up the slack, helping the Thunder defeat the Suns in OT. After hitting a clutch three late in regulation, Vince Carter (29 points) missed two of three free throws with only 17 seconds remaining in overtime, and then Steve Nash (11 points, 13 dimes) couldn’t convert a game-tying three-point attempt, leading to the Suns loss. Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat each added 20 off the bench for Phoenix.
Playing without Shaquille O’Neal, Glen Davis, Delonte West and Von Wafer, the Celts pulled out a victory in Milwaukee after erasing the Bucks’ six-point halftime lead. Led by Paul Pierce and his 23 points, Boston shot 51.5 percent from the floor and 93.3 percent from the line. This win marks five in a row for the C’s. A Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals seems to be shaping up pretty well, and somewhere, an NBA staffer whose job relies on high TV ratings is extremely excited. Though I guess that L.A.-Miami series probably wouldn’t do too poorly, either.
Actual Stats: Russ Westbrook: 32 points, 11 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 three.
Last Call: The Miami Heat, needing a bucket for the win…