Hawks 96 (58-19), Suns 69 (39-39)
The Hawks won their single-season franchise record 58th game behind strong performances from Jeff Teague (16 points, 4 rebounds) and DeMarre Carroll (16 points, 6 rebounds). With Paul Millsap sidelined, Mike Muscala (16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals) was inserted into the starting lineup and fit in seamlessly, knocking down seven of eight shots. Atlanta brought some of its best defense on the year, holding Phoenix to only 26 points in the second half. The Suns only managed to shoot an abysmal 31.3 percent from the field as Gerald Green (15 points) was the only player in double figures. Eric Bledsoe (9 points, 5 assists) was ejected in the third quarter for arguing with the refs. This Suns team has fallen apart since their front office shipped out Goran Dragic. Some changes will need to be made this offseason.
Heat 105 (35-43), Hornets 100 (33-44)
The Heat held off a late rally from the Hornets thanks to the clutch play from Goran Dragic (28 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals). After Dragic made a layup early in the fourth quarter, Miami held an 86-75 lead. However, Charlotte quickly stormed back with Kemba Walker (17 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals) and Gerald Henderson (29 points, 11-18 from the field) leading the way, cutting the deficit to 92-89 with just under five minutes remaining. The former Suns guard then poured in nine of his 28 points in the final 4:24 of the game to seal the victory. The Heat had a 20-12 advantage in terms of assists. Luol Deng (21 points, 6 rebounds) and Dwyane Wade (19 points, 5 assists) played well Tuesday and have really looked spryer than earlier in the season. These three players in Dragic, Deng and Wade will be the deciding factors down the stretch if Miami can sneak into the playoffs.
Pelicans 103 (42-35), Warriors 100 (63-15)
These unpredictable Pelicans just made a commanding statement Tuesday night by letting the League know they can compete with and beat the best team in the NBA. And possibly get matched up with them in the playoffs. The Warriors snuck by the Warriors in a three-point victory due to a monster second half from Anthony Davis (29 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals). While Andrew Bogut (8 points, 8 rebounds, 9 blocks) was a monster on the defensive end in the first half, racking up seven blocks and two on Davis, the Warriors big man only had two blocks in the second half as Davis started to be the aggressor. Davis would end up scoring 23 of his 29 points in the final two quarters, which included a crucial and-one with just over a minute to go that gave his Pelicans a four-point lead. After Stephen Curry (25 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds) nailed a 3-pointer with 35.6 seconds left, though, to tie the game 100-100. Andre Iguodala (7 points, 7 rebounds) would then be called for a foul to send Tyreke Evans (12 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals) to the line, where he would split a pair of free throws. After Curry missed a jumper, Davis sunk two free throws to make it a three-point game. Curry would miss one more shot at the buzzer as the Pelicans handed the Warriors their seconds straight loss. This is the first time since January 27 and January 30 that Golden State has lost back-to-back games. Draymond Green (24 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists) notched a double-double in the loss. When Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson (12 points, 9 rebounds) went down with injuries earlier in the season, the Pelicans had to find new sources of offense. Even with Anderson back, Quincy Pondexter (20 points, 4-4 on 3-pointers) continues to be a strong scoring punch for New Orleans and is a key reason his team is currently in the eighth spot in the West. If the playoffs started today, these two would be going head-to-head in a seven-game series.
Spurs 113 (52-26), Thunder 88 (42-36)
After just a few minutes into this game, it already felt like the Thunder had no chance of winning this game. After Kyle Singler missed a pair of free throws, Kawhi Leonard (career-high 26 points, 3 steals, 4-4 on 3-pointers) made three consecutive great plays. The Spurs wingman knocked down a triple, stole the ball and finished things off with a dunk to give San Antonio the early 5-0 lead. This lead would only grow more and eventually become a 29-10 lead by the end of the quarter. Leonard already had 12 of his 26 points in the first nine minutes as OKC had no one that could guard him. Even though Anthony Morrow (7 points) brings quality shooting to the Thunder, he doesn’t come close to having the type of lock-down defense that Thabo Sefolosha brought in past seasons. And that’s a major problem for this team—as great as Russell Westbrook (17 points, 6 steals, 2 assists, 4 turnovers) and Enes Kanter (9 points, 5 rebounds) have been during their team’s recent surge to make it into the playoffs, there simply aren’t enough guys playing defense on the other end of the floor. San Antonio built up a 34-points lead, allowing none of the starters to play more than 24 minutes on the night. Marco Belinelli (12 points) and Cory Joseph (6 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 0 turnovers) played well off the bench to keep the Thunder at bay. The Spurs have now won eight straight games by an average of 19.4 points. Watch out wild, wild West…here those Spurs come.
Kings 116 (27-50), Timberwolves 111 (16-61)
Since George Karl became the head coach of the Kings, certain players have been given larger roles and expected to produce at a higher rate. Omri Casspi (31 points, 5 rebounds, 4-6 on 3-pointers) is one of those players and he had a career game Tuesday night in Sacramento. The Kings starting forwards combined to score 64 points in the night as Rudy Gay (33 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks) also had a strong performance thanks to 15 trips to the stripe. Kevin Martin (season-high 37 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds) and Andrew Wiggins (26 points, 8 rebounds) might have almost matched these two scoring-wise, but they allowed the Kings forwards to make too many shots down the stretch. Casspi and Gay scored seven straight Sacramento points late in the game when Minnesota kept trying to get within one possession. Zach LaVine (21 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds) managed to finish with a double-double. The Kings did manage to outrebound the Wolves 49-36 thanks to strong rebounding from starting point guard Ray McCallum (13 points, 9 rebounds). Derrick Williams (18 points, 8 rebounds) also contributed 18 points off the bench. Sim Bhullar only played 16 seconds, but he made history by becoming the first player of Indian descent to play in an NBA game.
Clippers 105 (53-26), Lakers 100 (20-57)
The Clippers played a little too loose and let the Lakers hang around for far too long in this one. However, Chris Paul (19 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) and J.J. Redick (27 points, 4-6 on 3-pointers) knocked down their free throws late in the game to help the Clips sneak by the lowly Lakers. These two guards in CP3 and Redick have really found a groove since the All-Star Break. It is almost inevitable that Paul will get an assist in a Redick jumper at some point in the first few minutes of every Clippers game…which happened Tuesday night. Blake Griffin (27 poitns, 7 rebounds, 6 assists) had another balanced game as assists have become a part of his skillset this season. DeAndre Jordan (8 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks) had no issues controlling the interior against the undersized Lakers frontcourt. However, Tarik Black (16 points, 9 rebounds) did a serviceable job offensively, knocking down six of his nine attempts from the field. Jordan Clarkson (20 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds) continued to show signs of potential, reaching 20 points for the fifth time in the past nine games. With the win, the Clippers remain in the five seed behind the Blazers.