Game Night! ft. LA Lakers @ Orlando

HACK-A-HOWARD BACKFIRES; RUBIO SHINES TO DEFEAT SAN ANTONIO & MIAMI MAKE IT 19 STRAIGHT

Dwight Howard produced a 39p-16r double-double on his return to Orlando (18-47) as the LA Lakers (34-31) reclaimed 8th spot in the play-offs race with a 106-97 win over the Magic. Jameer Nelson had 21 points for Orlando as they were on the receiving end of a 15-2 burst from the Lakers in the third quarter which inspired their victory charge. Magic had recovered from an ELEVEN point deficit to take a slender lead at 57-56 before Kobe Bryant (11p/7r/8a) led the immediate response from the visitors. Having won their last four games, the Lakers are a game ahead of the Utah Jazz and now only half a game behind the Houston Rockets, who are in seventh place.

STAT:

Miami Heat (48-14) eased their way to a 98-91 victory over the Atlanta Hawks (34-29) after being paced by a 15/7/7 display by LeBron James. Last week’s Eastern conference player of the week Dwyane Wade, top scored with a game high 23 points while Mario Chalmers and Chris Bosh added 14 points each and Udonis Haslem pulled down 11 boards. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Bobcats (14-50) ended their TEN game losing streak with a 100-74 home win against the Boston Celtics (34-29) after Gerald Henderson posted a career-high 35 points.

Memphis (43-19) withheld a fourth quarter fightback from the Portland Trail Blazers (29-34) after securing a 102-97 victory. Dallas Mavericks (30-33) enjoyed a 115-108 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks (32-30) on the road despite a 32 point haul from Monta Ellis while Brooklyn Nets (38-27) claimed a 108-98 win over the New Orleans Hornets (22-43) with Brook Lopez top scoring with 26 points and earned bragging rights over his twin brother Robin with a posterizing dunk.

Despite the absence of Kyrie Irving (out 3-4 wks w/shoulder injury) Cleveland recorded a 95-90 victory over the Washington Wizards (20-42) after a 20 point haul from Dion Waiters. John Wall had 27 points and 14 assists for the visiting Wizards, who had raced into a 33-20 lead after the first quarter before the Cavs mounted their comeback to take control. Ricky Rubio inspired the Minnesota Timberwolves (22-39) to a huge victory against the San Antonio Spurs (49-16) with his first career triple-double in the 107-83 success.  The visiting Spurs were without Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard as they joined Tony Parker on the sidelines.

‘Tricky Ricky’ at it again against the Spurs: (NBA)

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Game Night! ft. Oklahoma @ San Antonio

SPURS STAY TOP OF THE WEST; KNICKS MAULED ON MELO’S RETURN & THE SIXERS END LOSING RUN

San Antonio (49-15) remained in top spot in the Western conference after a strong second quarter spell lifted them to a 105-93 over Oklahoma City Thunder (47-17). Tiago Splitter had 21 points on 9-11 from the field whilst grabbing 10 boards with Kawhi Leonard (17p) and Danny Green (16p) adding valuable contributions. Kevin Durant had a game-high 26 points for the Thunder while Russell Westbrook had 25 despite putting up 14 extra shots.

A 16-2 run had put the visitors in control early on as they led 32-22 at the end of the first. The advantage peaked at 13 points and Gregg Popovich soon called a time-out with his side down 40-29 and the game changed. The Spurs compiled a 20-4 run to take the lead with Green nailing two triples and Leonard adding nine points including a spectacular play to give the home side a 53-46 advantage at the break.

Westbrook had 11 second half points which helped bring OKC within a single point on the back of a 9-1 run but the Spurs regained the control and didn’t let their opponents get close again for the rest of the game. Manu Ginobili finished the third with five points as the Western leaders took an 83-74 advantage into the final period. The game was effectively sealed at the start of the fourth as the Spurs went 9-0 in the first three minutes. Green netted another triple late on to finish 4-4 from 3-PT range.

Golden State (36-29) inflicted a painful 92-63 loss on the New York Knicks (38-23) after another strong showing from Steph Curry. The Warriors guard had 26 points in the victory while Klay Thompson added 23 as the duo went 10-17 from downtown with David Lee adding 21 points, ten rebounds and EIGHT assists. Carmelo Anthony added 14 points and 10 rebounds on his return but the Knicks were restricted to just 27% shooting from the field. Utah Jazz (33-31) eased to a 103-90 win over the Detroit Pistons (23-43) despite a third quarter scare as they moved back level with the Lakers in 8th spot in the West.

Denver (43-22) claimed their NINTH straight win after beating the Phoenix Suns (22-42) 108-93 on the road with Kosta Koufos leading the way with a 22-10 double-double.  The game was evenly poised before the Nuggets stormed clear in the final quarter. Philadelphia 76ers (24-39) ended their losing streak with a 106-97 home win against the Brooklyn Nets (37-27) as Spencer Hawes (24p/10r) and Jrue Holiday (15p/11a) starred with double-doubles.

The night was a momentous one for Deron Williams as he completed an NBA milestone:

Here’s the top play of the day featuring Kawhi Leonard (NBA):

Mini-Profile: Manu Ginobili

Next up in the series is a man looking to lead the Spurs in the absence of Tony Parker, Argentine Manu Ginobili.

Manu Ginobili leading the way

Manu Ginobili leading the way

Bio:

Age- 35 (28/07/77)

Position- Shooting Guard

Height- 6’6″

Nationality- Argentinian

Previous Teams- San Antonio Spurs (2002-present)

Season Highs:

Points- 23 (v Houston 28/12/12)

Assists- 15 (v Sacramento 01/03/13)

3pt made- 6 (v Orlando 28/11/12)

20+ Points- 7 (Most recent v Phoenix 26/01/13)

Career Highs:

Points- 48 (v Phoenix 21/01/05)

Points Per Game Average- 19.5 (San Antonio 2007-08)

3-pointers made- 8 (v Cleveland 13/02/08)

Rebounds- 15 (v Toronto 11/02/08)

Assists- 15 (v Sacramento 01/03/13 )

Honours

NBA Champion 2003, 2005, 2007

NBA All-Star 2005, 2011

NBA Sixth-man of the Year 2008

2004 Olympics Gold Medalist

2008 Olympics Silver Medalist

Game Night! ft. Orlando @ Miami

NOT QUITE SWEET 16 FOR MIAMI BUT THEY GET THE WIN; LAKERS FIGHT BACK ON KOBE’S 42 WHILE THE KNICKS & SPURS SURVIVE WITHOUT LOSS OF KEY PLAYERS

Miami Heat (45-14) needed a late LeBron James basket to keep their win streak alive after scraping to a 97-96 victory at home to the Orlando Magic (17-45). James top scored with 26 points as a seemingly comfortable victory for Erik Spoelstra‘s side almost turned disastrous after a lax opening to the fourth quarter. Nikola Vucevic led the visitors with an incredible 25 points  and 21 rebounds in his second 20-20 game of the season (both against Miami) while Jameer Nelson added 14 assists to a 16 point haul.

Norris Cole nailed consecutive triples at the start of the second as Miami soon opened up a 55-40 advantage at half-time in complete control. The lead peaked at 19 points at the start of the third but Orlando rallied and hauled themselves to within three points heading into the fourth. Magic took the lead and held a 96-93 advantage with around 90 seconds remaining before Chris Bosh (17pts/10rbs) nailed a pair of free throws and Dwyane Wade (20pts) had a block to leave the game in the hands of the reigning MVP, who duly stepped up with the game winning drive to the hoop.

LA Lakers (31-31) battled back from 25 points down to defeat the New Orleans Hornets (21-41) 108-102 after a 42 point haul from Kobe Bryant. The visitors finished with a 20-0 run to bounce back from their defeat to the OKC Thunder the previous night despite finding themselves trailing 63-38 at one stage in the first half. Dwight Howard impressed with 20 points combined with 15 rebounds while Jodie Meeks stepped up off of the bench with 19 points. Meanwhile their rivals, the LA Clippers (44-19) enjoyed a 117-101 win at home to the Milwaukee Bucks (30-29) after Blake Griffin powered his way to a triple-double of 23 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 11 assists.

STAT: Kobe tied his season-high points haul with his 5th 40+ performance of the campaign.

San Antonio (48-14) overturned a first half deficit to defeat the Chicago Bulls (34-27) 101-83 as the Spurs made it two wins out of two in the absence of Tony Parker.  Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 18 points, a feat that was matched by Tim Duncan who added 10 rebounds and five blocked shots to his stat-line. Marco Belinelli led the Bulls with a game-high 21 points while Joakim Noah pulled down 13 rebounds. Chicago led by as many as 14 in the first half but the visitors were unable to keep up with the hosts in the second and San Antonio steadily began to pull away with Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills all contributing points in double figures.

New York (37-21) survived a third quarter blip to see off the Detroit Pistons (23-40) 87-77 as they coped without the missing Carmelo Anthony. Amar’e Stoudemire and JR Smith combined for 42 points off the bench while Ray Felton had a game-high 26 points. The hosts had led by ten points by the end of the third quarter with Jose Calderon the orchestrator before finishing with SIXTEEN assists. In another all-Eastern clash, Boston (23-27) used a strong fourth quarter to overcome the Indiana Pacers (38-23) 83-81 on the road. Kevin Garnett had an 18-10 double-double for the visitors whilst providing the game winning assist in the dying seconds for Jeff Green to clinch the victory.

Memphis (40-19) became the fifth team in the West to record 40 wins on the season after a hard-fought 91-85 success against the Portland Trail Blazers (28-32). Marc Gasol had a game-high 23 points along with 12 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies to their NINTH win in their last ten, in the absence of All-Star Zach RandolphDallas (27-33) kept their alive their previously fading play-off hopes with a 112-108 home win over the Houston Rockets (33-29) who will now be looking over their shoulder at the chasing pack. The Mavericks jumped out to an early advantage and survived a late surge from the Rockets, who were fueled by James Harden‘s 28 points and 9 assists.

STAT: League rookie, Damian Lillard scored 20+ points in a game for the 30th time this season.

Cleveland (21-40) were another team to fight back from a significant deficit as they defeated the Utah Jazz (32-29) 104-101 after Kyrie Irving led the way with 20 points and 10 assists. Toronto Raptors (24-38) enjoyed a comfortable 98-71 win against the Phoenix Suns (21-40) while the Brooklyn Nets (35-26) recovered from a slow start to impose a defensive stranglehold on the Charlotte Bobcats (13-48) to come away with a 98-78 win. Joe Johnson led the way with 22 points as the Nets outscored their opponents 56-25 in the second half.

STAT: It was only Irving‘s third double-double of the season for the Cavs.

Golden State (35-27) used a strong third quarter display as a platform for their 87-83 win against the Sacramento Kings (21-42) as Klay Thompson nailed a crucial 3-pointer late on to finish with 20 points.  Atlanta (34-26) survived a fourth quarter resistance from the Philadelphia 76ers (23-37) to win 107-96 after 27 points and 11 assists from Jeff Teague. Minnesota Timberwolves (21-37) were led by Derrick Williams (16pts/8rbs) and Ricky Rubio (15pts/11as/7rbs/6st) as they held on to an 87-82 home win against the Washington Wizards (19-40), who were led by John Wall‘s 19 points.

Check-out the amazing play of the day as Jamal Crawford provides the fancy alley-oop for Blake Griffin to jam home: (NBA)

Game Night ft. Miami @ NY Knicks

HEAT COMEBACK TIES FRANCHISE WIN STREAK; CLIPPERS FALL TO OKC & LAKERS EDGE PAST THE HAWKS

Miami Heat (43-14) equalled their franchise record of 14 straight wins after defeating the Knicks (35-21) 99-93 in New York after overturning a 16-point deficit. LeBron James continued to enhance his MVP credentials with 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists while Dwyane Wade had 20pts/8rbs/8as to help cancel out the 32 point haul from Carmelo Anthony. ‘Melo’ had 17 after the first although the Knicks trailed narrowly before streaking clear in the second with Jason Kidd nailing four triples to help the hosts into a 59-45 lead. Miami battled back in the third before tying the game following consecutive triples from LeBron in the final quarter. Wade put the visiting Heat ahead with four minutes to go and they held on to their advantage to deny the Knicks a third win over Miami this season.

In the second game of the SkySports double header, Oklahoma (43-16) survived a late fightback from the LA Clippers (43-19) to record a 108-104 victory.  Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 64 points, 15 rebounds and 14 assists for the visitors while All-Star MVP Chris Paul had 26 points and 8 assists for the Clippers, who battled back from 19 points down after a foray of 3-pointers gave them the lead with 90 seconds to go before falling short.

San Antonio (47-14) reacted well to the loss of Tony Parker for around four weeks with a comprehensive 114-75 drubbing against the Detroit Pistons (23-39). LA Lakers (30-30) finally reached the .500 mark of a close fought 99-98 win at home to the Atlanta Hawks (33-25). Kobe Bryant top scored with a 34 point haul and scored a lay-up with nine seconds left to seal the win after the visiting Hawks  had battled back from 16 points down to lead in the final minute. Indiana Pacers (38-22) maintained second spot in the Eastern standings with a 97-92 home win against Chicago (34-26) as David West’s 31 points helped to down the Bulls.

STAR Performance: Tim Duncan had 16 points, 11 rebounds, provided six assists and blocked five shots.

Houston Rockets (33-28) recorded a convincing 136-103 win over the Dallas Mavericks (26-33) after a dominant third quarter powered them to success. Chandler Parsons had a career-high 32 points on 12-13 FG shooting including 6-7 three’s while James Harden and Jeremy Lin both added 21 points with 16 assists between them. Washington Wizards (19-39) enjoyed a 90-87 win at home to the 76ers (23-35) to inflict an eighth defeat in nine on Philadelphia.

Sacramento Kings (21-40) cruised to a 119-83 victory at home to the Charlotte Bobcats (13-46) after outscoring their opponents 43-19 in the third quarter. John Salmons led six Kings‘ scorers in double-figures with a 22 point haul as Sacramento look to lift themselves off of bottom spot in the Eastern standings. Memphis (39-19) have now won nine of their last ten after defeating Orlando (16-44) 108-82 with Tayshaun Prince leading an array of scorers with 14 points in the absence of Zach Randolph.

STAT: Marc Gasol dished out 11 assists for the first time in his career during the Grizzlies‘ win.

Check-out Kobe‘s high-flying dunk on his way to a 34 point haul against the Hawks.