KNICKS FALL FURTHER BEHIND MIAMI; SAN ANTONIO LEAVE IT LATE & BOSTON EDGE LOW-SCORING THRILLER
Toronto (21-32) continued their winning streak with a 92-88 success over the NY Knicks (32-18). Heading into the game, Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony were the form players for their respective sides but had a poor shooting night with Gay 4-21 for 11 points and ‘Melo’ 5-24 for 12. Instead the Raptors were led by Alan Anderson‘s 26 points from the bench while J.R Smith top scored for the Knicks with a game-high 28 points. New York jumped out to an early lead and had an 18-14 advantage despite a late three from Anderson before the gap reached double-digits following a trio of triples from Steve Novak. Anderson got the Raptors back on track with two more of his own and the deficit had been halved by half-time at 42-37. Yet another three from Anderson late on in the third gave Toronto a lead they would relinquish. The visitors began to pull away in the fourth but a trey from Anthony made it a one possession game only for Toronto to seal the win from the free throw line despite two late triples from Smith.
STAT: Anderson made 6/8 from 3-point range for a career best night from beyond the arc while DeMar DeRozan made 10/10 from the FT line.
San Antonio (42-12) snatched a 96-95 victory in Cleveland in the dying seconds as Kawhi Leonard fired in a 3-pointer to deny the Cavaliers (16-37). Tony Parker top scored with 24 points as the French international returned alongside fellow All-Star Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobilli. Cleveland opened up an 8-2 lead which became 22-21 at the end of the first before extending that advantage at the half to 54-46. The visiting Spurs tied the game with the first eight points when play resumed and took the lead at 62-60. The hosts responded and regained the lead before seeing a five point advantage wiped out in the closing stages. Dion Waiters went to 20 points with a late basket to make it 95-93 with ten seconds remaining before Leonard‘s winner.
Boston (28-24) defeated Chicago (30-22) 71-69 in a game where both teams shot a sub-standard 36% from the field. Brandon Bass top scored for the Celtics while Kevin Garnett added a 12-11 double-double and Joakim Noah had 16 rebounds for the visiting Bulls. Chicago outscored their opponents 13-8 in the third period to establish a six point advantage heading into the fourth. Bass started a 10-0 run for the Celtics, in the fourth, with consecutive baskets as the momentum swung in favour of the hosts. Monta Ellis had a 27 point haul to lead the Milwaukee Bucks (26-25) to a 94-92 win against the Philadelphia 76ers (22-29). Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson combined for 41 points in another close-fought game as the Utah Jazz (30-24) earned a 97-93 win on the road in Minnesota against the Timberwolves (19-31).
A blistering opening quarter powered the LA Clippers (38-17) to a 106-96 victory at home to the Houston Rockets (29-26). Blake Griffin had a double-double of 20 points and 11 boards and Chris Paul had 10 points and 11 assists against a Rockets side without James Harden. The hosts raced out of the blocks to open up an incredible 46-28 lead after the opening 12 minutes with Caron Butler scoring 17 of his 19 points in that period. The lead peaked at 23 points in the second as Jamal Crawford added eight points early on before Chauncey Billups fired in two 3-pointers. Houston salvaged some pride in the second half as they managed to outscore the Clippers 47-37 to cut the losing margin to ten points.
STAT: LA Clippers‘ 46 points in the first quarter was one short of their best total in a quarter (47).
Washington (15-36) saw their four game win-streak end in Detroit as the Pistons (21-33) won 96-85. Jose Calderon had a season-high 24 points including 6/9 3-pointers while Will Bynum added a 20 point haul to halt the Wizards‘ charge. Josh Smith inspired a dominant Atlanta Hawks (29-22) win with a 30 point haul in the 108-76 thrashing at Orlando Magic (15-37). Indiana (32-21) matched NY Knicks‘ win tally for the season with a 101-77 victory at home to the Charlotte Bobcats (12-40). Paul George recorded a triple-double with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists as the Pacers produced a strong finish to collect a comfortable finish.
STAT: It was the first time this season that George had double-figures in assists as he recorded a triple-double.
Brooklyn Nets (31-22) used a profitable third quarter to carry them to a 119-108 win against the Denver Nuggets (33-21). Despite the defeat, Ty Lawson had 26 points on 5-5 shooting from 3-point range with Joe Johnson and C.J Watson combining for 51 points in the Nets‘ victory. New Orleans (19-34) eased to a 99-63 triumph against the Portland Trail Blazers (25-28) with Anthony Davis posting a 21-11 double-double for the Hornets. In the final game, Dallas Mavericks (23-29) enjoyed a 123-100 win over the Sacramento Kings (19-35) as Vince Carter became the 26th all-time leading scorer in the NBA; passing Larry Bird with a 26 point haul.
STAT: Denver made 12/17 3-pointers (70.6%) while Brooklyn made 16/27 (59.7%)
Check-out Kawhi Leonard‘s game-winner in Cleveland for the Spurs: (NBA)