Pacers 102, Heat 89
The Pacers took the lead for good late in the first quarter, but only really gained control of the game in the third quarter, expanding the lead to 15 points. Power forward David West scored 12 of his game-high 30 points in the decisive third quarter, as the Pacers worked over the thin Heat front line all night.
LeBron James led the frustrated Heat with 28 points but the Pacers were able to match the output from Dwyane Wade (17 points) and Chris Bosh (13 points) with a strong effort at both ends of the floor by Lance Stephenson and Paul George. The young Pacers wing players both scored 15 points while defending James and Wade mano-a-mano much of the night.
The Pacers took the fight to the Heat throughout the game while Miami focused their frustration on the referees, logging four technical fouls in the process. Following the game, James downplayed the loss as part of the regular season process (via ESPN.com): "We don't put too much into winning or losing these games. I'm not worried, we're not worried. We don't need victories versus top four teams to get to where we want to go."
Miami's loss bunched up the Eastern Conference contenders with the Pacers now one of four teams within three games of the Heat in the conference standings.
Nets 93, Bulls 89
Chicago rallied from an early deficit despite playing without Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah or Kirk Hinrich, but eventually ran out of gas. Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo used 10 players, allowing his bench to help close out the win.
Andray Blatche scored 11 points while MarShon Brooks pitched in 13 points off the pine for the Nets to help supplement a 20-point effort from All-Star center Brook Lopez. Point guard Deron Williams tweaked his ankle in the first half but was able to return to finish the game with 11 points and six assists.
The banged-up Bulls have two games in the next three days against Eastern Conference contenders Atlanta and Indiana. The Nets can exhale after the win as they remain at home for three days before hosting the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
Knicks 96, Buck 86
After going through the motions defensively in the first half, the New York Knicks put the clamps down on the Milwaukee Bucks in the second half, rallying to secure a 96-86 win at Madison Square Garden. The Bucks scored just 33 points in the second half after running out to a six point lead at the half.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks to their third consecutive win with 25 points while Tyson Chandler helped right the defense with nine points and 20 rebounds. Amare Stoudemire added 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench for New York.
With Miami losing, the win pulled the Knicks within a half game of the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Celtics 97, Magic 84
The Boston Celtics continue handling devastating injury news by winning games. The C's lost point guard Rajon Rondo for the season earlier in the week and then prior to their game on Friday against the Orlando Magic, rookie Jared Sullinger was declared done for the season, needing back surgery.
Despite the hit to the playing rotation, Boston won their third game in a row on Friday, beating the Magic, 97-84. Kevin Garnett (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Paul Pierce (14 points, 11 rebounds) logged a pair of double-doubles to guid the Celtics while Jeff Green came off the bench to add 17 points in the winning effort.
Raptors 98, Clippers 73
Rudy Gay wasted little time energizing the Toronto Raptors in his debut off the bench. Gay scored seven first quarter points including a pair of alley-oop finishes that had the Raptors rolling early in their 98-73 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Raptors seized the energy Gay brought to simply bury the Clippers as the visitors scored just 45 points through three quarters. Gay finished with 20 points while his new running mate DeMar DeRozan added 19 points and seven assists. Blake Griffin had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Clippers.
Pistons 117, Cavaliers 99
The Detroit Pistons moved past the trade earlier in the week which shook up their roster to roll past the Cleveland Cavaliers, 117-90. The Pistons were still without newly acquired guard Jose Calderon due to visa issues, but they didn't need the newcomer on Friday night. Instead, Brandon Knight outdueled All-Star Kyrie Irving to lead the Pistons to the easy win. Knight scored 20 points with 10 assists and six rebounds, while center Greg Monroe added 18 points and 16 rebounds. Irving scored 14 points for the Cavs.
76ers 89, Kings 80
The Philadelphia 76ers won their second game in a row, beating the Sacramento Kings, 89-80, while trying to stay in the mix for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. There was lots of young talent on display in this one as Jrue Holiday paced the Sixers with 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds, complimenting Thaddeus Young's 23 points and 15 rebounds. That was enough to counter the Kings, who enjoyed 29 points from Tyreke Evans and 24 points from Isaiah Thomas.
Grizzlies 85, Wizards 76
The Memphis Grizzlies gave up 30 first-quarter points and then returned to playing like a top defensive team, as they slowed down the Washington Wizards to win, 85-76. Tayshaun Prince made his Memphis debut off the bench with 14 points while Marc Gasol added 13 points and 15 rebounds. The Wizards lost John Wall briefly when he appeared to injure his shoudler, but the dynamic guard returned to finish the game with nine points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Mavericks 109, Suns 99
Dirk Nowitzki missed his second game with a shoulder strain, but that didn't slow down the Dallas Mavericks as they ran past the Phoenix Suns, 109-99. O.J. Mayo was one of six Mavs to score in double figures with 20 points which also included 19 points, six assists and six rebounds from Darren Collison. Goran Dragic led the Suns with 19 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
Jazz 86, Trail Blazers 77
The Utah Jazz won their second consecutive game after holding own the Portland Trail Blazers for a 86-77 win. Al Jefferson was strong around the rim for the Jazz, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Portland wasn't able to take advantage of another big game from rookie Damian Lillard who finished with 26 points and five assists.
Nuggets 113, Hornets 98
The Denver Nuggets continued rolling along, beating the New Orleans Hornets, 113-98, for their sixth consecutive win. Speedy point guard Ty Lawson has been strong throughout the winning streak and he delivered on Friday with 21 points and 13 assists. The Hornets failed to overcome 21 turnovers including five from guard Eric Gordon. Rookie Anthony Davis had 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in the losing effort for New Orleans.
Lakers 111, Timberwolves 100
The Los Angles Lakers didn't worry about any defensive deficiencies on Friday as they ginned up their offense to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 111-100. The Lakers scored 68 first-half points to take control of the game and then hung on for the win while playing without center Dwight Howard. Pau Gasol filled in quite well for the Lakers with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Kobe Bryant added 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Derrick Williams led Minnesota with 19 points and nine rebounds.