Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade dominated late to lead the Heat past the Lakers on Sunday. Elsewhere in the NBA, Chris Paul looked like his old self in a win over the Knicks and the Celtics pulled out a triple-overtime thriller over the Nuggets.
Heat 107, Lakers 97
For nearly three quarters against the defending champion Miami Heat on Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers somewhat resembled the team many expected them to be. But when it came down to it, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were just too much to handle in a 107-97 Heat victory. James led Miami with 32 points and Dwyane Wade poured in 30, with both players shooting 12-of-18 from the field.
The Lakers (24-28) got off to a fast start, leading by as many as seven points on several occasions in the second quarter. But the Heat (34-14) chipped away at that lead and went into the break tied at 53. The game went back and forth for much of the third quarter before James finished the frame with a flurry, scoring seven points in the last 44 seconds to give Miami a five-point lead heading into the fourth.
That's when Wade went into takeover mode, scoring 16 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter to help bury Los Angeles. James chipped in six points of his own in the fourth, and after his 12-of-18 performance, is shooting 68.1 percent in the month of February.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 28 points and nine assists on 11-of-19 shooting. Earl Clark continued his strong play in the absence of Pau Gasol, notching 18 points and nine rebounds. Both Dwight Howard and Steve Nash added 15 points in the losing effort.
Clippers 102, Knicks 88
The Los Angeles Clippers had been scuffling of late, in large part due to the absence of their leader, Chris Paul, because of a knee injury. After returning in an ugly loss to the Heat on Friday, Paul looked more like his old self on Sunday against the New York Knicks. The star point guard had 25 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals to help lead the Clippers (36-17) to a 102-88 victory at Madison Square Garden.
Los Angeles led for pretty much the entire first half and had a comfortable 10-point lead at halftime, but Carmelo Anthony brought the Knicks (32-17) back in the third quarter, making it a one-point game heading into the final frame. But Paul and Jamal Crawford were having none of New York's comeback attempt. Crawford scored 11 of his team-high 27 points in the fourth, while Paul had seven.
Blake Griffin added a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who shot 51.3 percent from the field. Los Angeles also hit 10 three-pointers, outscoring the normally potent Knicks by nine points from three-point land.
Anthony did finish with a game-high 42 points and eight rebounds on 14-of-26 shooting. Raymond Felton had 20 points, but no other Knicks scored in double figures.
Celtics 118, Nuggets 114 (3OT)
The Boston Celtics simply refuse to lose without Rajon Rondo in the lineup, winning their seventh-straight game since the star point guard tore his ACL by beating the Denver Nuggets 118-114 in a triple-overtime thriller. Paul Pierce recorded a triple-double of 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists to lead the Celtics (27-23). Pierce also kept Boston alive in the second-overtime by tying the game with a three-pointer with five seconds left.
Jason Terry added 26 points off the bench, and it was his three with 1:32 left in the third overtime that broke a 113-113 tie and proved to be the game-winner. Kevin Garnett had 20 points and scored the first six points in the third overtime for Boston.
Ty Lawson had 29 points to leads the Nuggets (33-19) and was the reason the game went to overtime to begin with, beating the buzzer at the end of regulation to tie the game at 92 apiece. But Denver just could not get over the hump, with the loss ending a nine-game winning streak.
Spurs 111, Nets 86
Despite playing without both Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, the San Antonio Spurs ran roughshod over the Brooklyn Nets in a 111-86 win at the Barclays Center. The Spurs (40-12) outscored the Nets 60-29 in the second half, with Tony Parker's 29 points and 11 assists leading the way. San Antonio shot 58.9 percent from the field and made 12-of-19 three-pointers.
Joe Johnson had 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting to lead Brooklyn (29-22), but struggled along with the rest of the team in the second half as they shot just 36.4 percent after halftime. Brook Lopez added 18 points and nine rebounds.
Thunder 97, Suns 69
For the second time in three days, the Oklahoma City Thunder romped the Phoenix Suns. After a 127-96 beat down in Oklahoma City on Friday, the Thunder (39-12) beat the Suns, 97-69, on Sunday in Phoenix. Russell Westbrook had 24 points and six assists, while Thabo Sefolosha scored a season-high 20 points.
Markieff Morris was the only Suns (17-35) player to reach double figures with 12 points. Phoenix shot a woeful 33.0 percent from the field en route to its season-low 69 points.
Kings 117, Rockets 111
James Harden and the Houston Rockets appeared to be in control of this one, leading by 10 early in the fourth quarter. But Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 23 points in the final frame to lead a stirring comeback in a 117-111 victory for the Sacramento Kings. John Salmons also added 23 points for the Kings (19-33).
Harden scored 30 points and grabbed six rebounds in the loss. Omer Asik recorded his fourth double-double in five February games for the Rockets (28-25), finishing with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Grizzlies 105, Timberwolves 88
It took a few games, but it looks like the Memphis Grizzlies are beginning to recover from the initial hangover of the Rudy Gay trade. Grizzlies newcomers Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye both had excellent games, leading Memphis (32-18) to a 105-88 blowout win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Prince led the Grizzlies with 18 points on 8-of-8 shooting and Daye had 16 points off the bench.
The embattled Timberwolves (18-30) have now lost 15 of their 17 last games. Perhaps the only good news is that Ricky Rubio has been rounding into form of late after returning from his ACL injury, scoring 17 points and handing out four assists.
Raptors 102, Hornets 89
Rudy Gay had 20 points and John Lucas III added 19 as the Toronto Raptors pulled away from the New Orleans Hornets late in a 102-89 victory. Lucas scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, with Gay chipping in eight of his own in the final frame for the Raptors (19-32).
Magic 110, Trail Blazers 104
After a shaky opening quarter, the Orlando Magic controlled play pretty much the rest of the way in a 110-104 home victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. The Magic (15-36) trailed by 11 in the early going, but stormed back and never trailed again after midway through the second quarter. J.J. Redick had 22 points to lead six Magic in double figures.