KOBE DROPS 40 ON THE TRAILBLAZERS; SAN ANTONIO PERISH IN OT WHILE THE KNICKS SUFFER 4TH DEFEAT ON THE BOUNCE
Kobe Bryant’s 40 point haul inspired a 111-107 success for the LA Lakers (27-29) as they hosted play-off rivals Portland (25-30), who suffered a seventh straight defeat. Dwight Howard contributed 19 points and 16 rebounds for the hosts while Nicolas Batum and J.J Hickson both had 22 point games for the Trail Blazers. In third, the visitors led 71-64 for the highest lead of the match as the Lakers‘ advantage never stretched beyond five points. Portland‘s last lead came at 103-102 with four minutes left although the teams were tied at 105 two minutes later. Steve Nash nailed a fadeaway jumper before Bryant sealed the win with 4/4 from the line in the final 13 seconds as Damon Lillard missed from long range. Bryant is adamant the Lakers will make the play-offs but they currently sit in NINTH in the standings.
STAT: This was the first time that Kobe Bryant had 40+ points in a single game this season and the Lakers won (5th occasion).
San Antonio (44-13) saw their winning streak come to an end as Golden State Warriors (32-23) prevailed 107-101 in overtime. The teams were evenly matched throughout and the visitors needed a late basket from Manu Ginobilli to force the extra period at 93. A triple from Spurs’ Danny Green (20p) cut the deficit to a single point in the final minute but the Warriors held on from the free throw line as Jarrett Jack took his tally to a season-high 30 points off the bench.
Oklahoma (40-15) bounced back from their defeat to Houston as they eased to a 127-111 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves (20-32) as Russell Westbrook posted a season-high 37 points. Thunder broke clear in the third quarter and became the second team to reach 40 wins for the season with conference rivals San Antonio being the first. Alexey Shved top scored with 19 points while Ricky Rubio (13p/5r/9a/5st) had a prominent night.
STAT: The Timberwolves had SEVEN players in double-figues while Westbrook and Kevin Durant (27p) combined for 64pts and 16 assists.
Toronto (23-33) inflcted a FOURTH straight defeat on the New York Knicks (32-20) with a 92-88 success on their home floor. Rudy Gay had nine points in the final four minutes on his way to 32 points, a total matched by Carmelo Anthony who sees his side slip to third in the Eastern conference. Indiana (34-21) took advantage of another Knicks loss by cruising past the Detroit Pistons (22-35) 114-88. The Pacers have now won 8 of their last 10 games and shot an impressive 71% from long range with all five starters plus Orlando Johnson in double figures.
Chicago Bulls (32-23) eased to a comfortable 105-75 win over the Charlotte Bobcats (13-42) as they attempt to lift themselves into the top four of the Eastern standings. Taj Gibson top scored with 17 points while Carlos Boozer had a 10p/10r double-double and Joakim Noah provided EIGHT assists to compliment a 13 point haul. Meanwhile, Washington (16-37) were forced to withstand a late fightback from the Denver Nuggets (34-22) to get the win. Ty Lawson had 27 points and 12 assists for the visitors who fell short attempting to overturn a SIXTEEN point deficit heading into the fourth as the Wizards were victorious 119-113.
STAT: Emeka Okafor (17p/13r), Bradley Beal (17p/12r) and John Wall (14p/10a) all had double-doubles for the Wizards as they halted the run of the Nuggets.
Boston Celtics (29-26) stormed away in the final quarter to collect a 113-88 win in Phoenix over the Suns (18-38). Jeff Green had a game-high 31 points for the Celtics in the absence of the rested Kevin Garnett while the hosts were led by a 19p/10a double-double from Goran Dragic. The Houston Rockets (31-26) continue to occup 8th spot in the Western conference following a 96-86 win against the Brooklyn Nets (33-23). The visitors outscored their opponents in every quarter and were led by 22 points each from Carlos Delfinho and James Harden.
Memphis (36-18) recored their sixth consecutive victory with an 88-82 win over Orlando Magic (15-40) with Marc Gasol (19p/13r) and Zach Randolph (16p/14r) contributing double-doubles for the Grizzlies. Dirk Nowitzki added 25 points to help Dallas (25-29) to a 104-100 win on the road against the New Orleans Hornets (19-37) while Atlanta (30-23) powered their way to a 122-108 victory over the Sacramento Kings (19-37).
CHECK-OUT Russell Westbrook in action for OKC as he goes to a season-high 37 points (NBA):