The Hawks made a powerful statement with a blowout win over the Raptors, but the NBA is sure to be buzzing over the Cavaliers, who have now won 2 straight and might be on the verge of a “turnaround” as they come home after a 6-game road trip. Meanwhile, the Warriors lose to an inspired Thunder team and the Spurs get Kawhi back and hold off any 4th quarter heroics from Lillard and the Trail Blazers.
Let’s get to the games:
Pistons 98 (15-25) – Pacers 96 (15-26)
In a tight back and forth game, the difference between a win and a loss can come down to position for an offensive rebound. Thus was the case tonight, as Detroit inbounded the ball with just under 24-seconds remaining and Brandon Jennings held for the last shot. Driving to the basket, Jennings missed a lay-up, but Andre Drummond was there for the tip in with 0.3 seconds left to give the Pistons their 10th win in the last 12 games. Other than the final lay-up, Jennings had a great night, going 8-13 from behind the arc for 37 total points. Drummond had 16 points and 16 rebounds (including 10 offensive rebounds), and Greg Monroe had 11 points and 8 total rebounds. For the Pacers, who fall 1/2 game behind Detroit in the standings, Roy Hibbert had 14 points (and a bad block out on the final play), David West finished with 13 with 8 boards, and Ian Mahinmi had 12 points and 9 rebounds off the bench.
Nets 102 (17-23) – Wizards 80 (27-13)
Coming off big wins over the Spurs and Bulls, the Wizards might be accused of overlooking the first night of a home-and-home back-to-back against the flailing Nets. The Nets, subject of multiple trade rumors, came in and blew out the Wizards – with Brook Lopez, the key man in many trade rumors, exploding in the 2nd half to finish with 26 points. Jarrett Jack, talked about as a fellow trade candidate with Lopez, also had 26 points and added 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Mason Plumlee started the game well, finishing with 11 points and 10 rebound, only playing a small portion of the 3rd quarter during the 2nd half. For the Wizards, the inside duo of Gortat and Nene, who have terrorized teams all season, were held to a combined 15 points and 10 rebounds. John Wall had 13 points and 6 assist, the biggest bright spot on an otherwise dim night for the Wizards.
Grizzlies 106 (28-11) – Magic 96 (15-28)
Jeff Green, in only his second game with the Grizzlies, had 12 points in the 4th quarter to keep Orlando (who’ve had good wins against quality teams this week) at bay after Memphis jumped out by as much as 11 to start the 4th. With Mike Conley out, the Grizzlies relied on offense from Green, a recent acquisition brought in specifically to increase their offense at the SF position. Green finished with 21 points and 5 rebounds on the night, while Gasol had 12 points with 16 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. Zach Randolph finished with 18 and 12 boards. For the Magic, Elfrid Payton took advantage of Conley’s absence to tally 22 points with 12 assists, while Vucevic had 18 with 9 boards to continue his great season.
Pelicans 81 (19-20) – 76ers 96 (8-31)
Based on his performance this season, we knew that Anthony Davis meant a lot to the Pelicans – but tonight, we found out just how much his presence means to this team as they fight for the 8th playoff spot in the Western Conference. The 76ers raced out to a 16-point first quarter lead and never looked back, with Nerlens Noel having one of his best nights as a pro with Davis’ defense missing. Noel had 17 points with 11 rebounds and 5 blocks while Michael Carter-Williams took advantage of Jrue Holiday’s absence to finish with 22 and 7 assists. For the Pelicans, Omar Asik had 6 points with 14 rebounds (including 6 offensive boards) while his backup Alexis Ajlinca had 16 points and 14 rebounds in 25 minutes.
Bulls 119 (27-14) – Celtics 103 (13-25)
Coming off of a loss to the Wizards where Rose had a season-high 32 points, you might have expected the Bulls to focus more on their inside presence in the win over the Celtics. With Noah out, however, it was a Rose-led team effort that turned a close game in Boston into a blowout. Rose finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds, going 12 of 20 and 5 of 8 from behind the arc to start to bring his shooting percentage back up. Pau Gasol had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Taj Gibson, in for Noah, had 13 points and 8 rebounds. For the Celtics, Jared Sullinger led the team with 20 points and 8 rebounds and Kelly Olynyk came off the bench with 14 and 9 boards. Evan Turner continued to play well with 11 points and 8 assists on the night.
Hawks 110 (32-8) – Raptors 89 (26-13)
The Hawks continue to roll over any and every team in their path, having won 25 of their last 27. Not resting any of their players as they did earlier in the week, the Hawks were able to sit their starters in the 4th quarter after dominating the Raptors from the start. Al Horford lead the Hawks with 22 points in 28 speedy minutes, while Jeff Teague had 13 and 9 assists. Paul Milsap added 16 and 8 boards for the Hawks, who played everyone they dressed for tonight’s game. The Raptors were led by DeMar Derozen, who has been playing well since his return from injury – but the team needs a little more time to re-gel with him back in the lineup. DeRozen had 25 points tonight while Kyle Lowry picked up 11 with 5 assists. James Johnson had 17 and 6 rebounds off the bench, but this game was a blowout early and clearly puts Atlanta in the drivers seat in the Eastern Conference.
Warriors 115 (31-6) – Thunder 127 (19-20)
The Thunder needed a win, and what better way to get it than against the NBA’s best team on National Television. A tight game throughout, you just didn’t get the sense that the Thunder were going to let themselves lose – with Durant and Westbrook both having one of their best games all year. Westbrook finished with a triple double – 17 points, 17 assists, and 15 rebounds – while Durant led all scorers with 36 points and 9 rebounds. Serge Ibaka – who I think has to step up for the Thunder to win a title this season – had a strong night with 27 points and 8 boards, while Dion Waiters had 21 in 37 minutes off the bench. As for the Warriors, they seemed to lose focus in the 2nd quarter and were chasing the Thunder after that. Klay Thompson had 32 and Curry had 19, but without Igoudala or Bogut, they seemed a little flat and just didn’t have enough to overtake the Thunder tonight.
Nuggets 89 (18-21) – Mavericks 97 (28-13)
After losing to the Nuggets this week while sitting Dirk, Rondo, and Tyson Chandler, the Mavericks were looking to prove that was a fluke – and Dirk scoring the Mav’s first 10 points without missing a shot certainly set the tone for a game that the Mavs lead throughout and won comfortably. The Nuggets only hit 12 of 25 free-throws, but Dirk’s 25 and 9 rebounds (including 4-5 from behind the arc) and Tyson Chandler’s 11 and 16 boards for Dallas mattered more tonight. The starting lineup seemed more fluid than we’ve seen them lately, with Rondo finishing with 2 points plus 8 assists and 9 rebounds and Mona Ellis with 14 and 4 assists. For the Nuggets, abuzz with trade rumors, Arron Afflalo had 16, Ty Lawson had 11 with 12 assists, and Jameer Nelson added 14 and 7 assists off the bench.
Trail Blazers 96 (30-10) – Spurs 110 (25-16)
The main story tonight was the return of Kawhi Leonard, who seemed to propel the offense into a gear we haven’t seen yet this year. The Blazers have made a season of 4th quarter comebacks, but were unable to get one tonight, as the experience of the Spurs carried them to the win. For San Antonio, Leonard led the team with 20 points and 5 assists. Tim Duncan had 11 points with 12 boards, and Tony Parker had 17 and 7 assists. For the Blazers, LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 but only 8 rebounds, and Lillard had 23 with 5 assists. Nicolas Batum, who continues to underachieve this season had 5 points and 4 rebounds, as the Blazers continue to search for a consistent 3rd star.
Timberwolves 99 (6-32) – Suns 110 (24-18)
Mo Williams was coming off of a 52 point game against the Pacers this week – but the Suns were not going to let that happen again, trapping Williams on the ball and leaving him with 26 points on 10 for 22 shooting. On the opposite end of things, Gerald Green followed up a horrible night against Cleveland with 19 points in 24 minutes to help push the Suns over the top. For Phoenix, Goran Dragic led the team with 21 points and 8 assists, while Alex Len added 12 rebounds down low. Eric Bledsoe added 16 points, but it was Gerald Green’s well-timing 19 that made the difference for the Suns. For Minnesota, Mo Williams led with 26, Andrew Wiggins had 17 and 5 rebounds, and Thaddeus Young had 13 and 8 boards with 6 assists.
Lakers 85 (12-29) – Jazz 94 (14-26)
Gordon Hayward has become the go-to guy for the Utah Jazz, and tonight he proved it with another big night to send the Lakers to their 4th straight loss. Hayward had 31 points and 7 assists, including 4 three-pointers to lead the team. Trey Burke added 20 points, and Derrick Favors had 18 with 10 rebounds. For the Lakers, who were without Kobe Bryant, Nick Young led the team from the bench with 23 points, including a perfect 13 for 13 from the free-throw line. Jordan Hill added 16 with 11 rebounds, but the Lakers were never really the better team to the naked eye.
Heat 95 (18-22) – Kings 83 (16-23)
It was the Heat’s Defense that really made the difference tonight, holding DeMarcus Cousins in check and allowing Chris Bosh and Luol Deng to score in Dwayne Wade’s absence. bosh led all scorers with 30 points and 7 rebounds, while Deng had 25 with 6 boards and 4 assists. Shabazz Napier, starting in place of Wade, had 12 points, 5 assists and 6 rebounds. For the Kings, Cousins was limited to 17 points and 11 rebounds on 4-12 shooting in 39 minutes. Darren Collison had 13 and 6 assists and Reggie Evans added 7 boards off the bench. The Kings are now 6 1/2 games out of the playoff race, and have lost 6 of their last 10 and 2 straight.
Cavaliers 126 (21-20) – Clippers 121 (26-14)
Whether or not this is a “turnaround” for the most talked about NBA team this season, the Cavs can take pleasure in winning a back to back at Staples Center even with Kevin Love resting his back. In Love’s absence, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James combined for 69 points to lead the Cavs to victory. For Cleveland, LeBron had 32 with 11 rebounds and 7 assists and Kyrie had 37 with 5 assists. Tristan Thompson stepped in for Love and went 10-12 from the floor to finish with 24 points and 12 rebounds. For the Clippers, who still seem to have little to no chemistry on the court, Blake Griffin led with 34 points and 10 rebounds, DeAndre Jordan had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Chris Paul had 15 with 14 assists as 6 players finished in double figures.