Heat 103, Pistons 89
The Heat trailed the Pistons by three points at the half but then kicked into their patented winning gear to dominate the second half and put away the win by outscoring Detroit, 52-35, over the final 24 minutes. LeBron James scored eight of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter while also adding eight assists and eight rebounds.
The Pistons went toe-to-toe with the champs in the first half, trying to hit the Heat inside, where they are most vulnerable. Greg Monroe had nine first quarter points and scored 13 of his 23 points in the first half. Forwards Jason Maxiell and Jonas Jerebko combined for another 10 first-half points while Jose Calderon was running things on the perimeter where he made three second-quarter three-pointers to finish the half with 16 points.
Meanwhile, the Heat were just cruising along, waiting until the second half to impose their will on the Pistons. The Pistons held tough throughout most of the third quarter until Miami closed with a 6-0 run in the final 46 seconds to take a five-point lead into the final frame. The Heat kept running on all cylinders, scoring 30 points in the fourth quarter to put down the Pistons.
Wizards 103, Lakers 100
The Wizards scored 62 second-half points sparked by a strong shooting performance from Trevor Ariza. The former Lakers forward torched his old team by making seven three-pointers to score 25 points off the bench. Ariza helped support a monster game from John Wall who finished with 24 points and 16 assists. He also helped close out the win by making four key free throws in the final seconds of the game.
Wall's first two clinching free throws came after Kobe Bryant missed a jumper to tie the game. Then, after Bryant made a three-pointer to cut the lead to one, Wall made the second pair to force the Lakers and Bryant to try a desperation shot at the buzzer.
The loss cost the Lakers a game to the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference standings while keeping them just a game-and-a-half ahead of the Utah Jazz, losers to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, for the eighth and final playoffs spot in the West.
As for the Wizards, they were able to take some of their home-court success on the road and, while playing without Bradley Beal and Emeka Okafor, showed some resolve that was much-appreciated at Bullets Forever.
As frustrating as this team can be to watch at times, particularly when two key starters are sidelined by injuries, one can no longer doubt its desire to compete and win every night. Undermanned on the road against a Lakers team that's improving daily, one easily could have imagined this game turning into a blowout once L.A. got ahead by 18.
That's not really what this Wizards team does, though, getting blown out. They might be one of the ugliest teams in the NBA on offense at times, but defense keeps them close in practically every game, something that happened again Friday.
Spurs 104, Jazz 97 OT
Tony Parker returned to action on Friday night to help lead the San Antonio Spurs past the Utah Jazz in overtime. The Spurs point guard missed eight games with an ankle injury but found his groove when it counted for the Spurs, scoring six of his 22 points in OT, including the final four points to close out the win. Tim Duncan pulled his weight for the Western Conference leaders with 19 points and 16 rebounds.
The Jazz lost an opportunity to pick up a game on the Lakers in their pursuit of a playoff spot. Mo Williams kept their hopes alive in regulation when his three-pointer at the buzzer sent the game into OT. Williams led the Jazz with 23 points and eight assists.
Pacers 102, Bucks 78
The Indiana Pacers ran past the Milwaukee Bucks in the second half to secure their third-consecutive win, 102-78. The teams played to a virtual stalemate in the first half, but the Pacers jumped all over the Bucks in the third quarter as the visitors went ice cold, getting outscored 28-11 in the decisive quarter.
The Pacers second-half surge frustrated the Bucks, who lost Larry Sanders in the third quarter to a double-technical ejection and then Mike Dunleavy to a flagrant foul ejection for hammering Gerald Green across the face on a drive through the lane. Tyler Hansbrough stepped into the starting lineup for the injured David West for the third-straight game and once again added a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Pacers.
Knicks 99, Raptors 94
The New York Knicks kept pace in the Eastern Conference standings with a 99-90 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points to pace the Knicks but he had plenty of help from newly acquired Kenyon Martin, who delivered his best game since joining the Knicks with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Martin has been forced to start at center for the Knicks due to a rash of front court injuries leaving coach Mike Woodson without any other options.
Alan Anderson came off the bench for the Raptors to keep things close by knocking down six three-pointers and scoring 35 points in the losing effort.
Thunder 97, Magic 89
The Oklahoma City Thunder bounced back with a win over the Orlando Magic after a pair of losses to conference foes earlier in the week. Kevin Durant scored 25 points for the Thunder while Russell Westbrook added 19 points and nine assists. Magic forward Moe Harkless came up big with 25 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in the Orlando loss. The Thunder continue chasing the San Antonio Spurs, remaining two-and-a-half games back in second place after the Spurs OT win against Utah.
Trail Blazers 104, Hawks 93
The Portland Trail Blazers won their second road game in as many nights when they rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Atlanta Hawks. Three different Blazers scored at least 20 points, led by Wesley Matthews with 28 points and rookie Damian Lillard with 23. LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Blazers who will finish their current five-game road trip in Oklahoma City on Sunday.
Josh Smith had 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Hawks but it wasn't enough as Atlanta simply struggled to get enough defensive stops down the stretch. Atlanta remains in fifth place in the East, a game ahead of Chicago and a game-and-a-half behind Brooklyn.
Hornets 90, Grizzlies 83
The New Orleans Hornets won their second-consecutive game, beating the Memphis Grizzlies thanks to a strong front-court effort from Robin Lopez and rookie Anthony Davis. Lopez finished the game with 23 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks while Davis added 18 points, 15 rebounds and a pair of blocks. It was quite an impressive showing by the Hornets' bigs against the formidable front court of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. The loss left Memphis a half game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for fourth place in the West.
Rockets 116, Cavaliers 78
The Houston Rockets drubbed the dispirited Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, 116-78. The Cavs were trying to bounce back from losing a 27-point lead and the chance to end the winning streak of the Miami Heat on Wednesday, but instead the Cavs went splat on the road. James Harden led the Rockets with 20 points as Houston was able to rest their starters throughout the fourth quarter. That didn't help Cleveland at all considering the Houston reserves combined to finish the game with 56 points off the bench.
Mavericks 104, Celtics 94
The Dallas Mavericks welcomed back former sixth-man Jason Terry with warm applause for his part in the Mavs' championship run two years ago, and then sent Terry and the Boston Celtics on their way with a 104-94 loss. Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points for Dallas to go along with a strong night in the middle from Brandon Wright, who held his own against Kevin Garnett, scoring 23 points. Garnett, Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass all scored 16 points for the Celtics in the losing effort. The loss dropped the C's a half game behind the Chicago Bulls for seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Timberwolves 117, Suns 86
The Minnesota Timberwolves jumped all over the Phoenix Suns, scoring 67 first-half points while cruising to a 117-86 road win. Minnesota had seven players score in double figures, led by Andrei Kirilenko with 20 points. Ricky Rubio added 12 points, eight assists and six rebounds while Dante Cunningham showed up strong off the bench with 18 points and eight rebounds. Luis Scola paced the Suns with 17 points and 12 rebounds.