Post Up: Contenders Earn Ws

by March 09, 2014

by Brett Weisband | @weisband

Knicks (24-40) 107, Cavaliers (24-40) 97

The Knicks kept their very slim Playoff hopes alive, going on the road to beat the Cavaliers and pull even with them in the standings. Carmelo Anthony bricked his first six shots but bounced back to finish 10-23 from the field, scoring 26 points while contributing 7 rebounds and 4 assists to help pace New York to the win. The Knicks got hot from deep early in the fourth, drilling four triples to turn a one-point game into a 10-point lead. J.R. Smith netted 17 points, hitting 5-9 from deep, while Amar’e Stoudemire (17 points and 12 rebounds) and Tyson Chandler (15 and 11) both notched double doubles for the Knicks.

(GIF via @SBNation)

As New York makes what will probably be a too-little-too-late push, the Cavs keep sliding down. They dropped their fourth straight on the same night they raised Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ jersey to the rafters. Kyrie Irving dropped 30 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, while Spencer Hawes put up 21, but the Cavs got just 16 points from their bench in the loss. Both teams sit 4 games out of the 8th spot in the East.

Jazz (22-41) 104, 76ers (15-47) 92

Looking at the schedule, Philadelphia may have let its final chance to get a win this season slip away, as the Jazz dropped them for their 16th straight loss. Gordon Hayward scored 22 to lead Utah, who made things easier on themselves with a 9-3 spurt to start the fourth quarter. The Sixers battled back to tie it on a string of buckets by Tony Wroten (career high 30 points, 12-15 shooting) and Thaddeus Young (18 points, 2 blocks), but the Jazz held Philly without a field goal for the final 2:50 after the game was tied at 91. Alec Burks, who has scored in double figures for 12 straight games and is averaging 15 since the start of February, dropped in 19 points. Derrick Favors, who the Sixers could have drafted over the departed Evan Turner back in the 2010,  had 15 points and 14 boards while blocking 3 shots.

The Sixers are on their longest losing streak since their historically futile 1972-73 season. They wasted Wroten’s career night by coughing the ball up 18 times. Michael Carter-Williams had 9 assists, 7 rebounds and 5 steals, but shot just 2-13 and scored 4 points. At this point, there’s nothing left to do in Philadelphia but hope the Sixers can steal a game and wait for the draft lottery.

Grizzlies (36-26) 111, Bobcats (29-34) 89

Memphis is going to be difficult to keep out of the Playoffs, as they keep grinding out wins as spring rolls around. They turned the offense on against the Bobcats, pulling away from Charlotte in the second half. They shot over 50 percent from the field by dominating the interior, scoring 60 points in the paint on the normally stingy ‘Cats. Mike Conley put up 20 points, Zach Randolph had 16 and Marc Gasol had 14 points and 9 boards for the Grizz, who stayed kept themselves just a half-game out of the final Playoff spot out West.

Al Jefferson finally met a team capable of slowing him down, as he shot just 7-17 for his 17 points, breaking a streak of four straight games with at least 25 points and 60 percent shooting. Charlotte let the game slip away in the third quarter, getting outscored 27-17 in the frame and never recovering. Chris Douglas-Roberts had 15 and Kemba Walker put up 11 for Charlotte, but the team got little else from the rest of the roster.

Spurs (46-16) 121, Magic (19-45) 112

They took their time, but San Antonio eventually pulled away from the overmatched Magic, nailing down a win late in the fourth quarter. The scrappy Magic, with former Spur player and coach Jacque Vaughn at the helm, kept it within single digits until the Spurs turned it on the final half of the fourth quarter. Tony Parker scored 11 of his 30 points in the fourth, slamming the door shut after Tiago Splitter (14 points, 6 rebounds) scored 7 straight points to stretch the San Antonio lead to 10. Tim Duncan put up 11 and 10 and blocked 3 shots in the winning effort.

The young Magic went shot for shot with the Spurts for the majority of the game, led by Tobias Harris’ 23 points off the bench. Nikola Vucevic (19 points, 13 reboudns) and Moe Harkless (12 points, 10 rebounds) both notched double doubles for Orlando, but the Magic defense broke down and couldn’t stop the Spurs late, as San Antonio shot 53 percent overall and hit 9-16 from the floor in the fourth while marching the line seemingly at will.

Wizards (33-29) 114, Bucks (12-50) 107

Another bottom dweller gave a Playoff team a tough run, as the Bucks made the Wizards work for every bit of the win in Milwaukee. The Wizards looked ready to coast to victory after taking a 75-53 lead into halftime, but the Bucks shut them down in the third quarter, winning the frame 21-10, to make it a game late. Bradley Beal put up 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and the Wiz sealed it on a 3-pointer by John Wall (9 points, 13 assists) with a minute to go.

Trevor Ariza netted 28 points on 9-12 shooting, including 5-7 from deep, to continue what might be the best stretch of his career. Ariza is averaging 27 points per game in March while knocking down more than 5 triples per game on 66.7 percent shooting from deep.

The Bucks got 25 from Brandon Knight and hung around as the got Washington in foul trouble, getting to the line to hit 25-28 attempts from the stripe. Khris Middleton put up 15 and Ramon Sessions dropped 14 off the bench for the Bucks, who have dropped five of their last six.

Clippers (44-20) 109, Hawks (26-35) 108

The Hawks gave the Clippers everything they could handle, making L.A. grind all the way up to the final whistle one game after recording the biggest blowout in franchise history. The Clippers squandered all of an 11-point fourth quarter lead, as Atlanta knocked down three triples in a two and a half minute span to tie it up. Chris Paul (19 points, 10 assists) bailed his squad out, breaking a 107-all tie in the final minute on a hanging layup with under a minute to go.

That wasn’t the end, as Blake Griffin (27 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 8 turnovers) nearly spoiled another outstanding individual effort by clanking two free throws that would have sealed it. Jeff Teague (9 points, 9 assists) wasn’t able to tie it up from the line on the next possession, missing the first of two free throws, allowing L.A. to escape. The Clips got a double double from DeAndre Jordan (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Matt Barnes kicked in 17 points.

The Hawks had one of their best shooting nights during their recent rough stretch, hitting 50 percent overall and 12-28 from 3-point range. DeMarre Carroll put up 19 to lead ATL, while All-Star Paul Millsap had 14 points and 5 steals. Atlanta used an 11-2 run to get back in it, capped off when Kyle Korver (17 points, 6 assists, 3-3 from deep) converted his seventh four-point play of the season. The Hawks’ lead for the 8-seed is down to 2.5 games over Detroit in the East.