by Peter Walsh
The Bobcats won their second game in a row as they defeated the Raptors behind 25 points from Byron Mullens. The center came up big in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 points to hold off a Raptors team that kept it close until the end. With 3:18 remaining, the Raptors cut the score to 94-93 after two free throws from Jonas Valanciunas. But, Ben Gordon went on a quick scoring spurt that saw him score five points in 30 seconds to push the lead back to six and Charlotte was able to hold on. Gordon finished with 16 and Gerald Henderson scored 21, grabbed 7 boards and dished out 5 assists. Rudy Gay led the Raptors with 25 points and 8 rebounds.
A strange game that kicked off 35 minutes late after a leak on the court saw the Heat storm back from 27 down to earn their 24th straight victory. Cleveland dominated the game early, holding LeBron to just six first half points and led 55-24 at the half. After going down 67-40 early in the third quarter, Miami finally woke up as Shane Battier hit three 3-pointers and Ray Allen added another to give the Heat a quick 12 points. In the fourth, it was all LeBron. The Cleveland native and former Cav scored 14 points, grabbed 7 boards, dished out 3 assists and had 2 steals and hit two clutch free throws down the stretch of the final quarter as the Heat outscored the Cavs 58-28 over the last 19 minutes for the win. LeBron notched a triple-double with 25 points, 12 boards and 10 dimes while Mario Chalmers finished with 17. Wayne Ellington played a career-high 41 minutes and scored 20 points.
Carmelo Anthony returned after missing three games due to injury and the Knicks beat up on the Magic in the second half to get a much needed win at the Garden. The Knicks led from wire-to-wire and after Orlando cut the deficit to five at the half, New York outscored Orlando 32-19 to take an 18-point lead into the final quarter and cruised to the finish. Melo finished with 21 points on 7-14 shooting and 8 boards and J.R. Smith scored 22 off the bench. Kyle O’Quinn led the Magic with 12 points and 14 boards off the bench.
The Hawks are vying for home-court advantage and picked up a big win agains the Bucks last night. The Hawks took an 18-point lead into the fourth quarter but the Bucks fought back to cut the deficit to four late in the game. But, Brandon Jennings missed a free throw that would have made it a one possession game. He then followed that up by missing a contested jumper and Josh Smith grabbed the rebound and hit two free throws with 27 seconds left to ice the game. Jeff Teague led the way with 27 points and 11 dimes and Al Horford finished with 26 points and 15 boards. Jennings scored 21 points on 8-18 shooting and Larry Sanders finished with 19 points, 14 boards and 4 blocks.
One night after playing a high-intensity game against the Nuggets, the Thunder took on another Western Conference foe in a tough battle and once again suffered a loss. OKC had a chance to make it a two possession game at the end of regulation, but Russ Westbrook missed one of two free throws with 12 seconds left to give the Grizzlies a chance. Jerryd Bayless–who scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter–nailed a 3-pointer with 3.7 seconds left to tie the game at 83 and forced overtime. The two teams continued to battle back and forth in OT and the Thunder led 89-88 with seconds remaining. Zach Randolph missed a layup but Marc Gasol hit the winning tip-in with .08 seconds left to give the Grizzlies their 16th win in 19 games. Mike Conley scored a season-high 24 points, grabbed 7 boards and dropped 5 dimes. Marc Gasol scored 14 points and grabbed 15 boards and Zach Randolph scored 15 points and grabbed 18 boards. Kevin Durant scored a game-high 32 points and Westbrook scored 20.
The Hornets trailed by 13 early in the third quarter but chipped away and tied the game up at 65 after Ryan Anderson’s free throws with a minute left in the quarter. The Hornets opened up the fourth quarter on fire and jumped out to a nine-point lead but the Celtics shifted momentum and went on a 10-0 run of their own and eventually took an 84-81 lead with 2:34 left. The Hornets cut Boston’s lead back down to one and Paul Pierce missed a jumper with sixteen seconds to go that would have put the C’s back up three. With the clock winding down, Eric Gordon missed a floater and Anthony Davis outjumped KG and Jeff Green for the tip-in and the game winner. Anderson finished with 21 points, Gordon scored 18 and Greivis Vasquez finished with 13 points, 7 boards and 6 dimes. The Truth led Boston with 28 points.
James Harden scored 29 and Jeremy Lin dropped 24 and handed out 6 assists as the Rockets beat the Jazz and further hurt Utah’s playoff hopes. Houston led wire-to-wire and were up by 19 points after three quarters. The Jazz went on a 13-4 run to cut the lead to ten but the Rockets were too strong offensively and held off Utah for the win. Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 27 points and 8 boards.
Brook Lopez scored a season-high 38 points and 11 boards and DWill dropped 31 as the Nets took care of the Mavs in Dallas. The game was close throughout the first two quarters but the Nets took over in the third, shooting close to 70 percent from the field and forced six turnovers to take control of the game. Dirk led the Mavs with 16 points and 6 boards.
Tim Duncan continued his hot streak with 25 points, 13 boards, 6 dimes and 4 boards and led the Spurs to their 29th straight victory over the Warriors in San Antonio. The Warriors cut a 13-point deficit to three with 3:30 to go in the game but the Spurs were having none of it and went on a 12-3 run over the next 2:30 to put the game away. San Antonio now owns a 2.5 game lead over the Thunder for the top spot in the West. Manu Ginobili scored 16 points and had 7 assists and Tiago Splitter chipped in with 17 points and 7 rebounds. Steph Curry scored 24 points and Jarrett Jack scored 14 and dropped 7 dimes off the bench.
The Wizards stretched their lead to 18 early in the game and held on the rest of the way for the win. John Wall scored 19 points and dished out 8 assists, Nene scored 17 and Kevin Seraphin scored 16 off the bench. Bradley Beal left the game in the fourth with an ankle injury. Wes Johnson and Goran Dragic each scored 18.
The Clippers led by as many as 31 and absolutely waxed the Sixers and could be back on track after losing four of their previous seven. Chris Paul finished with 19 points, 9 assists, 6 boards and 5 steals in 31 minutes and Caron Butler chipped in with 14 points and 6 boards. Spencer Hawes led the Sixers with 16 points, 7 boards and 7 dimes.