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 Randolph. Dallas (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)