USA TODAY Sports
For one night anyway, the Lost Angeles Lakers teamed up to post a solid win over Utah while the Boston Celtics let a solid win slip away in Atlanta.
Lakers 102, Jazz 84
After absorbing obituaries penned for their playoff hopes and analysis of every flaw at fault in a four-game losing streak, the Los Angeles Lakers pulled together as a team and put together a winning effort at home to beat the Utah Jazz, 102-84.
Following a private, players-only meeting that was well known prior to the tip, the Lakers found success with a balanced team effort that saw five players score in double figures, though none over 20 points. That included Kobe Bryant who scored 14 points while matching his season low for shot attempts with just 10.
Bryant played his part in getting his teammates going, though by dishing out 14 assists. Metta World Peace opened the game with the first of his five three-pointers to give the Lakers a lead they held for the remainder of the game. World Peace scored finished with 17 points, while Dwight Howard added 17 points and 13 rebounds.
After closing the first quarter on a 15-2 run, the Lakers remained in control, warding off a handful of runs by the Jazz but eventually putting away the visitors in the fourth quarter to cruise to a much-needed win.
The Lakers will get to test if this improved level of play will stick in the near term when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday afternoon.
Hawks 123, Celtics 111, 2OT
The Boston Celtics failed to finish off the Atlanta Hawks and in the process extended their losing streak to six games after Atlanta rallied at home to win, 123-111 in double overtime.
The Celtics were rolling early, leading 29-10 after the first quarter thanks to separate, unanswered runs of 10 and 13 points. That lead would expand to 27 points in the second quarter as the C's appeared to make themselves feel right at him in Philips Arena.
That feeling didn't last long though as the Hawks started cutting into the lead before the half and then opened the third quarter with a 21-2 run that tied the game. Kyle Korver helped fuel the third quarter rally with a trio of three-pointers that seemed to wake up the Atlanta offense.
Boston appeared back in control with under five minutes to play when they extended their lead to ten points. Again, Korver hit a trio of threes to spark an Atlanta run. Korver made eight three-pointers for the game to finish with 27 points.
Neither team could score in the final minute of regulation nor the final minute of the first overtime to secure the win. Finally, Al Horford scored seven of his 24 points in the second overtime as the Hawks seized the win.
Heat 110, Pistons 88
The Miami Heat are quietly rolling along after winning their fourth consecutive game by beating the Detroit Pistons 110-88 on Friday night. After the Pistons scored 31 first-quarter points, the champs put the clamps on the visitors en route to a comfortable win on South Beach. Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 29 points and seven assists while LeBron James kicked in 23 points, seven assists and seven rebounds. Greg Monroe made his presence felt in the post for Detroit with 31 points and 12 rebounds.
Wizards 114, Timberwolves 101
John Wall made his first start of the season for the Washington Wizards after coming off the bench in his first seven games of his comeback from a knee injury, as the Wizards beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 114-101 on Friday night.
Wall's court time remain monitored as the dynamic guard played just 21 minutes, but he scored 14 and dished out 5 assists to keep the Wiz trending in a positive direction. Washington is now 5-3 since Wall's return.
Rookie Bradley Beal added 16 points for the Wizards while Jordan Crawford had a game-high 19 points off the bench. Derrick Williams led the Timberwolves with 18 points and 11 rebounds as Minnesota dropped their third game in a row.
Cavaliers 113, Bucks 108
Kyrie Irving always looks the part of an All-Star guard and he played the part on Friday night as the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied to beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 113-108. Milwaukee amassed a 20-point lead midway through the third quarter, when Irving came to life to score 14 points to finish to help put the Cavs back in the game.
After newly acquired Mareese Speights and Shaun Livingston combined to push the Cavs in front in the fourth quarter, Irving closed out the win by scoring his team's final six points to finish the game with 35 points. Speights made an impressive debut for Cleveland with 10 points and six rebounds off the bench. Ersan Ilyasova paced the Bucks with 30 points while Monta Ellis added 21 points and nine assists.
Bulls 103, Warriors 87
Kirk Hinrich scored 25 points and made six of seven three-point shots to lead the Chicago Bulls past the Golden State Warriors, 103-87. The Bulls buried the Warriors early, taking a 31-13 lead after the first quarter, and never let the visitors up for air. All-Star Luol Deng missed his fourth game with the Bulls due to a hamstring injury, but his absence didn't impact the strong defensive effort the Central Division leaders continue to put forth.
Spurs 113, Mavericks 107
The San Antonio Spurs held off a late rally to hang on and beat the Dallas Mavericks, 113-107 on Friday night. The Spurs had six players score in double figures including reserve big man DeJuan Blair who scored a season-high 22 points. Tony Parker flashed his All-Star credentials with 23 points and 10 assists while making the Spurs go on the road. Rodrigue Beaubois led the Mavs off the bench with 19 points.
Rockets 100, Hornets 82
The Houston Rockets cruised to a 100-82 road win over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night thanks to 30 points from James Harden. Harden needed just 15 shots to score his points as he earned several trips to the free throw line and made all 12 of his freebies for the game. Eric Gordon led the Hornets with 20 points but the home team really struggled from behind the arc, making just three of 20 three-point attempts.
Grizzlies 101, Nets 77
After a trade cleared cap space and a cluttered bench in Memphis, the Grizzlies appeared to play with a clear focus on Friday night as they ran past the Brooklyn Nets, 101-77. Center Marc Gasol led the Grizz with 20 points and nine rebounds, one of seven Memphis players to score in double figures. Rookie Tony Wroten took advantage of the playing time afforded him thanks to the trade earlier in the week by pitching in 11 points off the bench.
Thunder 105, Kings 95
The Oklahoma City Thunder returned to their winning ways with a 105-95 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, as the top team in the Western Conference played the fifth of six straight games on the road. Kevin Durant scored 24 points with 11 rebounds for OKC while Kevin Martin added another 24 points off the bench. Tyreke Evans paced the Kings with 16 points as Sacramento dropped their third consecutive game.