Miami got a driving layup from LeBron James with 11 seconds left in a tie game and eventually staved off late-charging Portland, 93-91, after the Trail Blazers erased a double-digit deficit in the final minutes of the game Monday.
Damian Lillard had his attempt tying attempt blocked by Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers grabbed the board to secure the close-call victory. Mo Williams hit two free throws with 30 seconds remaining to tie it up, but James made that short-lived with his eventual game-winner.
LeBron tallied 32 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals as Dwyane Wade was held out of action again, and James did his usual running, dunking stuff ...
We wouldn't be doing this correctly if we left out Lillard's big two-hander right down the middle of the lane.
As for Atlanta, even with the loss it remains three games ahead of the Knicks in the loss column for the final spot out East, and it's lost three straight to make the gap a little tighter. Phoenix, on the other hand, has caught fire, going 6-2 since Bledsoe's return from a knee injury. The Suns and Mavs now have an identical record, with the former owning the tiebreaker at the moment.
The bottom of the West has grown very interesting
That was probably a little too close for comfort. It took all game, but the Clippers were finally able to slip past the scrappy Bucks, 106-98, behind 27 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks from Blake Griffin.
But these are the plays that make Milwaukee and Giannis Antetokounmpo pretty fun to watch.
Still, Los Angeles gets another win to stay one game up on Houston in the loss column for third seed in the Western Conference with only 10 games left to play. Chris Paul and Darren Collison combined for 29 points and 13 assists in the team's two-headed point-guard attack.
Ramon Sessions recorded 28 points, six rebounds and seven assists in 44 minutes of action as the Bucks hung tight on the home court of one of the league's best teams.
Russell Westbrook got the night off after a scary collision against the Raptors, but Kevin Durant and Caron Butler (yes, Caron Butler) had enough to lead the Thunder past the Nuggets, 117-96. And the first quarter set the tone.
Oklahoma City dropped 41 points in the opening frame and took a 17-point lead into the second, and that was more than sufficient by the end of the night. Durant scored 27 points, Butler dropped 23 and the Thunder shot 51 percent to the Nuggets' 39 percent.
NBA Power Rankings
NBA Power Rankings
The Brooklyn Nets blew a 22-point second-half lead and fell in overtime to Tyreke Evans, Anthony Davis and the Pelicans, 109-104, and are now alone in fifth place out East, one game back of the Bulls in the loss column.
Evans dropped 33 points, grabbed 10 boards and dished out seven assists, while Davis' streak of eight straight games with 28 points or more came to an end in a paltry 24-point, 14-rebound performance Paul Pierce went for 24 points and Deron Williams pitched in 23 points, eight rebounds and five dimes in a tough loss to swallow.
The Grizzlies kept up their late-season high level of play as the Timberwolves have all but bid farewell to the postseason. Memphis dominated Minnesota, 109-92, behind 23 points, five boards and six assists from Mike Conley.
With the win, the Grizz are now alone in seventh place out West, just one game up on the eighth-seed Suns and ninth-seed Mavericks in the loss column (Dallas and Phoenix have identical records, but the Suns hold the tiebreaker).
Bulls 89, Pacers 77
Chicago defeated Indiana, 89-77, making it two straight losses in which the Pacers have failed to top at least 77 points, and four consecutive games — they lost three of those four — scoring 92 or fewer.
The loss also pulls Indy one game closer to the Heat, who sit two games back of first in the East after beating the Trail Blazers. Chicago got 23 out of Taj Gibson and 18 from Kirk Hinrich, and the Bulls are alone in fourth after the Nets' loss to the Pelicans.
And Taj was doing some work...
Make it 25 straight losses for Philadelphia. The 76ers are now just one loss away from tying the record set by the 2010-11 Cavs of 26 consecutive losses. Oh, and the Spurs (54-16) have now won 14 straight games after the 113-91 victory, the longest regular-season winning streak of the Tim Duncan - Gregg Popovich era.
Austin Daye (yes, Austin Daye) led all scorers with 22 points on six three-pointers, as San Antonio just keeps plugging and playing with a two-game edge over Oklahoma City in the loss column for best record in the NBA.
James Harden just continued his scoring binge, as the Rockets beat the Bobcats, 100-89, behind 31 points from the bearded superstar. Houston remains alone in fourth place out West after the win.
The Rockets hit 12 of 27 threes and stifled Charlotte into 37-percent shooting, and Dwight Howard posted 10 points and 10 boards in his return to action after a three-game absence due to a bum ankle.
And speaking of Harden ...
The typically cold-shooting Pistons were scorching in this one, going 55 percent from the field and hitting nine of 17 shots from deep. But it likely doesn't matter, as Detroit is six games back in the loss column for the final spot in the East with 12 games left.
Gordon Hayward had 32 points and six assists for the Jazz.