NBA Scores And More: Emeka Okafor Saves Hornets, Dirk Nowitzki Leads Mavericks

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Hornets Vs. Jazz: Emeka Okafor Shot Saves New Orleans, Who Dismiss Utah In Overtime

There remains little mystery in the question of whether the Utah Jazz are playoff-bound. They are not. Fate has spoken. The New Orleans Hornets dismissed the Jazz 121-117 in overtime on Thursday, with Chris Paul cranking out 24 points and 12 assists and David West popping up 29. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson did their things, scoring a combined 55 points and grabbing 24 rebounds. But without Devin Harris, Utah's guard play is sub-mediocre; if Raja Bell and Earl Watson aren't playing ace defense, they likely aren't doing a whole lot (though in this game they did hit 5-9 threes between them).

How the Hornets got to overtime was something amazing. The Jazz took a two-point lead on a Millsap free throw with 1.3 seconds left. New Orleans had no timeouts. Aaron Gray fired a fullcourt baseball pass to Paul, who batted it out to Emeka Okafor, who ...

... hit among the most ridiculous shots you'll see. The degree of difficulty on something like that is astronomical; I wouldn't expect New Orleans to convert that play more than two or three times out of a hundred. (And I think that's being generous.)

Derrick Favors got onto the floor a day after earning a DNP-CD. It wasn't a great night out, though, as Favors managed just two points and three rebounds in 17 minutes of action. No one would dare give up on Favors at this point, but his lack of production is a bit alarming. In New Jersey with Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez and in Utah with Millsap and Jefferson, there are certainly no frontcourt vacuums, no surplus of rebounds and garbage buckets to clean up. That's one issue for Favors; compare it with DeMarcus Cousins, who plays in a total vacuum in Sacramento. But you'd think Favors would be able to get something going -- even something small -- by this point. It's the end of March.

Gordon Hayward, whose Butler Bulldogs moved on to the Elite Eight without him, celebrated with 13 points and five assists off the bench for Utah.

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Wolves Vs. Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki Saves World From Anthony Randolph Insurrection

Dirk Nowitzki scored 30 points as the Dallas Mavericks put away the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-96. Anthony Randolph, starting for an injured Kevin Love, put up 31 points on 14-20 shooting to go with 11 rebounds, placing the fear of something nasty into everyone plus Knicks fans.

Most would never dream of a Dirk-Randolph shoot-out, but the enigmatic third-year forward -- cast off by the Warriors and Knicks already -- rose to the challenge. Unfortunately, the supporting cast Love has dragged up and down the floor all season still stunk. Michael Beasley had more turnovers than made field goals. Wes Johnson shot 3-12. Darko Milicic contributed an electric four fouls, two turnovers, two rebounds and zero points in 14 minutes of "work." Jonny Flynn had 13 points and five assists, shooting 5-10. That's considered a raging success when it comes to Flynn.

Of course, that collection of players still lost by only eight. Dallas was sloppy with the ball (16 turnovers) and the starting backcourt of Rodrigue Beaubois and Jason Kidd combined to shoot 1-10. Surviving a night like that is far more preferable than not, but those of us considering the Mavericks as legit challengers to the throne get a bit unnerved when games like this -- games against awful teams missing their best player -- don't turn into blowouts.

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