Thunder 97, Pacers 75
The Oklahoma City Thunder completed an impressive pair of back-to-back wins by closing strong to run the Indiana Pacers out of their own building for a 97-75 win. Less than 24 hours after beating the San Antonio Spurs in OKC, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook dominated the action in the second half against the Pacers for a win that moves the Thunder into first place in the Western Conference.
The Thunder beat the Pacers at their own game by outworking their hosts and grabbing a big advantage on the glass. The Thunder outrebounded the Pacers, 53-31, with 15 offensive boards. After building a one-point lead at the end of the first half, OKC controlled the action throughout the second.
The Thunder put those offensive rebounds to good use to begin the third quarter, with an 11-4 run fueled solely by second-chance points. After a 9-0 run to begin the fourth quarter, the Thunder put away the Pacers, who started to look like the team playing on a back-to-back. The Pacers scored just 32 second-half points, including only eight points in the fourth quarter.
Kevin Durant scored 22 points of his 34 points in the second half, including 15 in the fourth quarter. Russell Westbrook started the game strong and finished with 24 points and nine assists. Roy Hibbert led the Pacers with 22 points and eight rebounds.
With the loss and a Chicago win, the Pacers failed to clinch the Central Division.
Lakers 86, Grizzlies 84
The Los Angeles Lakers didn't have to rely on a game-winning shot by Kobe Bryant to beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. Instead, they enjoyed some game-winning defense from Dwight Howard to hold off the Grizzlies to maintain a half-game lead over the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
In a back-and-forth game, Zach Randolph scored to put the Grizzlies up 84-83 with two and a half minutes left, but that would be the last points Memphis would score. Paul Gasol put the Lakers ahead with over a minute to play and then Dwight Howard made a free throw with 4.1 seconds remaining to put L.A. up by two. Memphis went for the tie, but Michael Conley's attempt to drive to the rim was met with resistance from Howard, who avoided a foul and altered Conley's shot to secure the win for the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 24 points and nine assists on the offensive end, while Pau Gasol added 19 points and nine rebounds to the winning effort. Conley led the Grizzlies with 21 points.
Knicks 101, Bucks 83
After scoring just 36 first-half points, the New York Knicks caught fire after the break and scored 42 third-quarter points to rally and run away from the Milwaukee Bucks for a 101-83 win. Carmelo Anthony continued carrying the load for the Knicks with 41 points and 14 rebounds, Melo's third-straight game with at least 40 points.
The 11th-consecutive win for the Knicks helped open up a little breathing room for the No. 2 spot in the East, with the Indiana Pacers losing on Friday. The Knicks are now up two games in the loss column on the Pacers and 1.5 games in the standings. J.R. Smith added 30 points off the bench for the Knicks. Brandon Jennings led the Bucks with 25 points.
Cavaliers 97, Celtics 91
Youth was served in Boston on Friday as the Cleveland Cavaliers enjoyed a huge night from Tristan Thompson to beat the short-handed Boston Celtics, 97-91. Thompson scored a career-high 29 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds to lead the Cavs over the Celtics. Boston didn't have enough fire power to answer with Paul Pierce (ankle) joining Kevin Garnett (ankle) on the sidelines for this game. Jeff Green led the Celtics with 23 points and nine rebounds as Boston remains locked in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Bulls 87, Magic 86
The Chicago Bulls earned another victory by hanging on in the fourth quarter to beat the Orlando Magic, 87-86. Nate Robinson and Luol Deng each scored 19 points to pace the Bulls, with Robinson coming through in the fourth quarter to score 12 of his points, including the Bulls' final bucket with almost four minutes to play. The Magic couldn't rally past Chicago despite the empty finish from the Bulls. Chicago forced a turnover on Orlando's final possession with 12 seconds remaining and then played keep-away to avoid getting fouled. The win moved the Bulls up to fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
76ers 101, Hawks 90
The Philadelphia 76ers jumped on the Atlanta Hawks to score 40 points in the first quarter and then cruised to a 101-90 win in Atlanta. The Hawks continue their up-and-down play as they try to prepare for the playoffs. The loss, combined with a Chicago win, dropped the Hawks to sixth place in the East. Evan Turner paced the winning effort for the Sixers with 24 points and 11 rebounds, one of three double-doubles from Philly. Al Horford scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the losing effort for the Hawks.
Heat 89, Bobcats 79
The short-handed Miami Heat beat the Charlotte Bobcats, 89-79, while playing without LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen. Mike Miller stepped up to fill the void with a season-high 26 points in a starting role while Chris Bosh added 18 points and eight rebounds. Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist showed up well on national television with 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Bobcats.
Raptors 95, Timberwovles 93
Ricky Rubio missed a free throw and a chance to tie the game with 1.7 seconds remaining, allowing the Toronto Raptors to hold on and beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 95-93. The Raptors enjoyed a one-two punch on the wing as Rudy Gay scored a game-high 26 points to lead the Raptors while DeMar DeRozan added 25 points. Nikola Pekovic led Minnesota with 24 points and eight rebounds. Rubio finished with 13 points and 12 assists.
Jazz 95, Hornets 83
The Utah Jazz kept pace in the race for the final playoff spot in the West by beating the New Orleans Hornets, 95-83. Gordon Hayward pumped in 23 points for the Jazz and Paul Millsap added 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the winning effort. Rookie Anthony Davis played big for New Orleans with 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. The Jazz remain a half game behind the Lakers for the final playoff spot in the West with five games to play.
Warriors 111, Suns 107
The Golden State Warriors held on in a wild, back-and-forth game to beat the Phoenix Suns, 111-107, and remain in sixth place in the Western Conference standings. After Michael Beasley pulled the Suns within two points in the final minute of the game, Jarrett Jack made a three-pointer with 30 seconds remaining, and then Jack and Stephen Curry made all four of their free throws to hold off the Suns for the win. Curry scored 18 points and dished out 15 assists for the Warriors while Klay Thompson scored 25 points. Beasley came up big for the Suns off the bench with 25 points to go along with a game-high 32 points from guard Goran Dragic.
Mavericks 117, Kings 108
The Dallas Mavericks kept their dwindling playoff hopes alive with a 117-108 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday. Shawn Marion led the Mavs with 25 points and 12 rebounds, but the bench also gave Dallas a needed boost with 49 points, which included 20 points from Brandan Wright and 18 from Darren Collison. Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with a game-high 29 points. The win kept the Mavericks within three games of the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot in the West.
Rockets 116, Trail Blazers 98
After a fast start by both teams, the Houston Rockets left the Portland Trail Blazers behind in the second half to cruise to a 116-98 win and maintain seventh place in the West. James Harden came up big for the Rockets with 33 points, which included four three-pointers. Jeremy Lin added 22 points and eight assists to out-duel Portland's rookie point guard Damian Lillard. Lillard finished with 11 points and seven assists for Portland, while LaMarcus Aldridge scored 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the loss.