Celtics 93 (29-36), Pacers 89 (30-35)
The Boston Celtics won their fourth in a row and stopped the Pacers’ season-high seven-game winning streak with a balanced attack and strong team defense—two qualities any postseason team needs to possess. And as of now, the Celtics only trail the Hornets by half a game for the eighth seed. Tyler Zeller (18 points, 7 rebounds, 8-10 from the field) led the way with efficient shooting and strong play down low while he had three teammates with 16 points. This balance held off George Hill’s (30 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds) monster offensive game. Boston took control of this game early on with a 17-4 run in the first half that gave them a 32-20 led in the second quarter. They extended this lead to 80-68 with 7:30 to go in the fourth. However, Behind a couple C.J. Watson (12 points, 2-3 on 3-pointers) 3-pointers, the Pacers quickly cut the deficit to 91-89 with 5.8 seconds left. Brandon Bass (16 points, 5 rebounds), though, calmly sunk two free throws to seal the victory.
Wizards 113 (38-28), Kings 97 (22-43)
This game seemed to be a lost cause for the Wiz in the third quarter. This team has had its ups and downs since the All Star Break and for 24 minutes of gameplay, it looked inevitable this one would simply be a down. After Ben McLemore nailed a 3-pointer a minute into the second half, the Kings were in complete control with a 69-48 lead. DeMarcus Cousins (30 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) had already reached the 20-point plateau and the Verizon Center was completely out of the game. Then suddenly, John Wall (31 points, 12 assists) and Paul Pierce (17 points, 3-5 on 3-pointers) put some life into the building by going off for 27 of the team’s 38 points in the third quarter. After Wall made a triple with just under a minute to go in the third, the Wiz had climbed almost all the way back and only trailed 85-84. To make this kind of a comeback in a 12-minute span shows determination and resolve on the part of the Wizards. This type of fight is what all playoff teams will need in about a month. The Wizards kept the momentum going into the fourth quarter and went on an 18-3 run to seal this victory in dramatic fashion. So overall, the Wizards turned a 69-48 deficit to start the half into a 102-88 lead midway through the fourth quarter—a 35-point swing. This type of run is what makes this team scary when John Wall starts to get in a groove.
Nets 94 (26-38), 76ers 87 (15-51)
Thaddeus Young (21 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals) had a great revenge game in having his best game as a Net up to this point. He’s been active getting steals and has worked to shoot the ball efficiently in Brooklyn. His team needed his boost to stop its five-game losing streak and stay in playoff contention. Joe Johnson (15 points, 4 rebounds) and Jarrett Jack (12 points, 8 assists) contributed some important buckets down the stretch as the Sixers just couldn’t make enough shots to keep up. While Brooklyn shot 44.0 percent from the field, Philly only managed to shoot 37.2 percent. Nerlens Noel (17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) has really started to grow these past few months, and if it wasn’t for Andrew Wiggins, the long center could have made a case for Rookie of the Year. Thomas Robinson (7 points, 12 rebounds) has grabbed double-digit rebounds in four of the past games. After Noel scored six straight points for the Sixers late in the fourth, his team only trailed 87-85 with 3:36 to go. However, the Nets then locked down defensively and ended to game on a 7-2 run for the win.
Grizzlies 96 (46-20), Bucks 83 (34-32)
This was a classic grit-and-grind game for the Grizzlies as they held the Bucks below 22 points in every quarter and slowly but surely built up a large lead that Milwaukee couldn’t overcome. Even without Mike Conley, Beno Udrih (14 points) filled in nicely and all five starters reached double figures. Courtney Lee (17 points) led the way offensively, shooting an efficient 6-10 from the field. Four of the five Bucks starters reached double figures as well with Giannis Antetokounmpo (19 points, 6 rebounds) taking command of the offense. He has grown this season from a phenom to a key cog in Jason Kidd’s offense. However, it’s going to be hard to win too many games when shooting 5-19 (26.3 percent) on 3-pointers as the Bucks did Saturday night. The run that blew this game wide open came late in the third quarter. After Zaza Pachulia (14 points) made a layup with 4:36 to go, the Bucks only trailed 63-58. Behind a strong Tony Allen (9 points, 4 steals) and-one, the Grizzlies went on a 12-0 run to build a 17-point lead. And when the Grizz build any sort of double-digit lead, they are one of the toughest teams to come back against.
Jazz 88 (29-36), Pistons 85 (23-43)
The young, budding Jazz big men put on a strong performance to extend Utah’s current winning streak to five games. Derrick Favors (26 points, 4 blocks, 2 steals) led the way offensively, shooting efficiently from the field and knocking down his free throws. All the while, Rudy Gobert (10 points, 19 rebounds, 2 blocks) gobbled up 19 boards and took advantage of the lack of Andre Drummond (4 points, 10 minutes) in the second half. The Pistons big man was diagnosed with a concussion and did not return in the second half. Joel Anthony (10 points, 5 rebounds) played serviceably in his place but couldn’t contain the strong Jazz big men. Greg Monroe (16 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks) notched a double-double in the close defeat. The biggest shot of the night, though didn’t come from any of these forecourt players as Trey Burke (9 points) shook off his recent shooting woes and made a running bank shot with 13.1 seconds remaining to turn a one-point lead into an 88-85 lead. Spencer Dinwiddie (9 points, 6 assists) would miss two 3-pointers in Detroit’s next two possessions to give the Jazz the victory. While Utah shot 47.8 percent from the field, Detroit only shot 38.1 percent. Monroe and Anthony grabbed nine offensive rebounds to help keep their team in the game before Burke made a clutch shot.
Warriors 125 (52-13), Knicks 94 (13-52)
In a game featuring one of the League’s best against one of the League’s worst, nothing surprising happened as the Warriors poured it on midway through this game and then cruised the rest of the way. During the second and third quarter, Golden State outscored New York 85-46…the Warriors scored 47 points in the second quarter. The Splash Brothers in Stephen Curry (25 points, 11 assists, 3 steals, 6-10 on 3-pointers) and Klay Thompson (27 points, 6-10 on 3-pointers) already had 29 combined points by halftime when the game had been all but decided. Andrea Bargnani (18 points) continued to put up good offensive numbers, but he still has no impact on the defensive end of the floor. Even though Andrew Bogut (4 points, 5 rebounds) may not score or even play as much as Bargnani, the Warriors big man knows his role defensively and excels in it. The Knicks perimeter defense wasn’t much better as the Warriors scorched them from deep, shooting 19-34 (55.9 percent). They came two makes shy of tying the franchise record of 21. Golden State also shot 16-17 (94.1 percent) on free throws while New York shot 9-16 (56.2 percent). The Warriors as a team had a ridiculous 34-9 assist-to-turnover ratio.