Nuggets 114, Thunder 104
The Miami Heat's 23-game winning streak is grabbing all of the headlines, allowing the Denver Nuggets and their ongoing winning streak to fly a bit under the radar. The Nuggets improbably extended their streak to 13 games on Tuesday night, going into Oklahoma City on the second of a back-to-back and beating the Thunder, 114-104.
Following a hard fought overtime win in Chicago the night before, Denver (47-22) could have easily packed it in after Oklahoma City (50-18) grabbed a 34-26 lead after the first quarter. But the Nuggets never backed down, getting back into the game with a 39-point outburst in the second quarter. And in the second half, it was their defense that helped secure the victory, as they held the powerful Thunder offense to just 38 points.
Ty Lawson bounced back from a rough outing against the Bulls to lead the Nuggets with 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting, matching Russell Westbrook's 25. Andre Miller was huge off the bench, scoring 20 points and handing out nine assists in just 23 minutes of action.
Durant had 34 points to lead Oklahoma City, but he and Westbrook got little help. Kevin Martin was the only other Thunder player to reach double figures with 14 points, and only two of those points came after halftime. The Thunder shot just 31.7 percent in the second half and went 4-of-25 on three-pointers, including 0-of-15 in the second half. The loss dropped them to 30-5 at home on the year.
Kings 116, Clippers 101
The Sacramento Kings may have a poor overall record, but they have been actually somewhat formidable at Sleep Train Arena this season. The Los Angeles Clippers found that out on Tuesday, as the Kings used a huge fourth quarter to grab a 116-101 victory.
Toney Douglas played the hero, scoring 17 of his 19 points during a thrilling final frame that at one point saw him nail three straight three-pointers. And once Marcus Thornton hit his sixth three of the game with just two minutes left, a tight game had turned into a double-digit lead for Sacramento (24-44). Thornton scored 25 points to lead the Kings, who outscored the Clippers 38-18 in the fourth quarter.
DeMarcus Cousins got into the fun as well, returning to the lineup after missing two games with a leg injury. Cousins scored 17 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in a shade under 28 minutes.
Blake Griffin had 26 points and Jamal Crawford had 25, but it was not enough for the Clippers (46-22) to overcome the Kings' scoring onslaught. Chris Paul had 11 points and 15 assists, but he shot just 2-of-10 from the field.
Pacers 95, Magic 73
Playing without David West, the Indiana Pacers did not exactly bring their "A" game offensively against the Orlando Magic. But the Pacers did not have to, as their typically stout defense smothered the Magic in an easy 95-73 win.
Indiana (42-26) held Orlando (18-50) to just 31.8 percent shooting while also doing a number on the backboards. The Pacers won the rebounding battle, 63-42, with seven players grabbing at least five boards. Tyler Hansbrough started in place of West, scoring 14 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, with nine of those coming on the offensive end. Paul George led Indiana with 19 points, while Gerald Green put forth his second straight solid effort off the bench with 15.
Arron Afflalo and Moe Harkless were the only two Magic players to reach double figures, and they only managed 10 points apiece. Orlando has lost four games in a row.
Bucks 102, Trail Blazers 95
The Milwaukee Bucks raced out to a 27-point halftime lead, but had to hold on late to beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 102-95. Brandon Jennings had 24 points and seven assists and Monta Ellis nearly notched a triple-double with 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
The Bucks (34-32) grabbed their big lead by outscoring the Blazers, 31-8, in the second quarter. Portland (31-36) started to chip away at the deficit in the third quarter and made things somewhat interesting in the fourth, but it was never able to get within the final seven-point margin.