MIAMI POWER PAST ATLANTA IN 4TH; KNICKS & OKC LOSE FURTHER GROUND ON CONFERENCE LEADERS
James Harden launched an avenged attack on his former-team with a career-high 46 points to inspire a 122-119 victory for the Houston Rockets (30-26) over the OKC Thunder (39-15). In support of Harden‘s incredible effort, Jeremy Lin (28p, 8a) and Chandler Parsons (17p) combined for a further 45 as the Rockets overturned a 107-93 deficit with seven minutes to go. Houston showed their intent early on as they fired in six triples to lead 23-16 which became 36-29 after the first. Oklahoma produced a strong second quarter to take the lead and stretched their advantage into double digits before Harden‘s half-court buzzer-beater made it 87-92 at the end of the third. Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha netted 3-pointers to make it a 14 point lead in favour of the visitors before Houston launched their fightback. Harden and Lin instigated a pivotal 19-2 tear to swing the game’s momentum and when Kevin Durant missed a chance to tie the game from long range, Harden was on hand to seal the win from the foul line. Russell Westbrook top scored for Thunder with 28 points and 10 rebounds while Sefolosha also netted 28 points with 6-10 from 3-PT range.
STAT: Kevin Durant recorded a triple-double of 16 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists and was his second of the season with the last coming on 18/11/12 against Golden State.
Miami Heat (37-14) outscored the Atlanta Hawks (29-23) 40-17 in the final quarter to record a 103-90 victory. LeBron James‘ streak of 30 points in his last six games came to an end but the reigning NBA MVP still contributed 24 points, six rebounds and had 11 assists in Miami‘s seventh straight win. Josh Smith came close to a triple-double for the hosts with 10p, 9r & 9a while Al Horford top scored with a game high 27 points. Atlanta led 73-63 after three quarters but Miami opened the fourth with a 12-0 run to take the lead and powered on with a dominant 20-7 spell which included two triples from Ray Allen on his way to 15 points. A third straight defeat for the New York Knicks (32-19) moved them further behind Miami after the Indiana Pacers (33-21) stormed to an emphatic 125-101 triumph. Paul George had a game-high 27 points for the hosts who posted their highest points total in a half for the season with 74 POINTS.
LA Lakers (26-29) gained revenge on their recent heavy defeat at the hands of Boston (28-26) to beat their main rivals 113-99 at the Staples Centre. The home side got off to a fast start and didn’t look back as they moved ahead of Portland in the race for the play-offs. Dwight Howard top scored with 24 points and 12 rebounds as seven Lakers players reached double-figures while Earl Clark grabbed a career-high 16 boards to complement his 14 points. Dallas Mavericks (24-29) scored an impressive 42 points in the opening quarter to power them to a 111-96 win over Orlando Magic (15-39). Rudy Gay was unable to lead Toronto (22-33) to victory over his former side Memphis (35-18) as the Raptors fell to an 88-82 defeat. All-Star Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with an 17-18 double-double.
STAT: Steve Nash moved ahead of Magic Johnson into fourth place on the all-time list for career assists with 10,144.
Nikola Pekovic had a huge 27 point, 18 rebound double-double to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves (20-31) to a 94-87 home win over the Philadelphia 76ers (22-30). Golden State Warriors (31-23) ended a six-game losing streak with a 108-98 win over the Phoenix Suns (18-37) as Klay Thompson (28) and Stephen Curry (20) starred for the hosts. Detroit Pistons (22-34) overturned a half-time deficit to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats (13-41) 105-99 on the road with Brandon Knight top scoring with a 21 point haul.
STAT: Nikola Pekovic matched his season-high total of 18 rebounds having also achieved the feat against Atlanta in January.
Kyrie Irving was in top form for the Cleveland Cavaliers (17-37) with 35 points in a 105-100 success against the New Orleans Hornets (19-36). The rising star scored TWENTY in the final quarter as the home side racked up 37 points to recover from a slender deficit heading into the fourth. In the final game, Brooklyn Nets (33-22) made it back-to-back wins over the Milwaukee Bucks (26-27) with a 97-94 victory despite 31 points and ELEVEN assists from Brandon Jennings. Deron Williams top scored for the Nets with 23 points for his highest total in nine games.
CHECK-OUT Michael Kidd-Gilchrist baptize Detroit’s Greg Monroe: (NBA)