A contested three-pointer from Paul Pierce with 1:14 remaining broke a tie game and helped give the Brooklyn Nets an exciting 101-97 victory over the Toronto Raptors in a game that had definite playoff implications. If the Eastern Conference playoffs started today, the Raptors and Nets would meet in the first round as the No. 3 vs. No. 6 matchup.
Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston each finished with 18 points, and Pierce chipped in 15 of his own as the Nets' (32-30) win has left them tied in the loss column with the fifth-seed Washington Wizards (33-30), who lost on Monday in Miami. It also dropped the Raptors to within a game in the loss column of the idle Chicago Bulls for the battle for third in the East.
And now for a Plum-dunk!
The Suns tried to come from behind again against one of the conference's best, but it didn't work this time around. Blake Griffin went for 37 points in just 31 minutes before fouling out late in the game, and the Clippers survived a 112-105 shootout with scrappy Phoenix.
Griffin had 22 first-quarter points, and he was hitting everything.
Chris Paul went for 17 and 11 assists, and DeAndre Jordan snagged 17 rebounds in the win. But once again, the Suns made things interesting, especially when Griffin and P.J. Tucker got tangled up on the floor. Tucker was ejected for appearing to connect with Griffin's chin on a right hook of sorts, but Phoenix managed to make a run anyway, cutting what was once a 25-point lead into just four points with 32 seconds remaining. But the Clippers hit free throws down the stretch to hang on for the win.
Speaking of postseason implications, the Hawks squeaked by the Jazz, 112-110, to remain five games ahead of the Knicks in the loss column for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Kyle Korver went for 26 points and Paul Millsap put in 23 and eight rebounds in the win to move the Hawks to 27-35 on the season.
Utah couldn't quite make up a late deficit despite outrebounding Atlanta, 45-34, and hitting 10 of their 21 three-point attempts. Trey Burke dropped in 23 for the Jazz.
Bucks 105, Magic 98
Milwaukee is doing its best to lose the tanking war, apparently. The Bucks upended the Orlando Magic, 105-98, on Monday to move within two games of the free-falling 76ers with 19 games remaining in the regular season. Orlando dropped to just five games ahead of Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference standings in the loss.
Brandon Knight went for 26 points and Khris Middleton put in 21, six boards and seven assists, but the Bucks managed to hit just eight of their 27 three-point attempts. Still, they racked up 22 points off 17 Magic turnovers.
Heat 99, Wizards 90
The Miami Heat pulled away in the final minutes of a 99-90 win against Washington, but it took a significant effort to get away from the Wizards. LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade combined for 67 points and the Heat forced 19 turnovers to help seal the deal and end their three-game skid.
Al Jefferson is making a habit of dominating the post these days, and Monday was not different. Charlotte's big man dropped 26 points and 13 boards, Kemba Walker went for 24 and seven dimes, and Gary Neal pitched in 19 off the bench as the Bobcats downed the Nuggets, 105-98.
Charlotte is now sitting alone as the seventh seed in the East, one game up on the Hawks and six games in front of the Knicks in the loss column. Ty Lawson had 24 points and six dimes for Denver, who is sliding deeper and deeper into the pits of the lottery.
Knicks 123, 76ers 110
Well, at least the Knicks can beat the Sixers. New York broke open a tie game at halftime to beat Philadelphia, 123-110, at Madison Square Garden on Monday.
And the Knicks had some big numbers in the box score. Tim Hardaway, Jr., went for 28 points off the bench, Amar'e Stoudemire put in 23, and Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith combined for 44 points on 42 shots to help keep New York within striking distance of the final spot in the playoffs.
Michael Carter-Williams went for 23 points, 13 boards and 10 assists to register the second triple-double of his likely to be Rookie of the Year campaign.