The Indiana Pacers' struggles continued on Monday. The owners of the best record in the league for much of the season, the Pacers ran into the team that took over that spot. The San Antonio Spurs demolished Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, extending their winning streak to 18 games and holding the Pacers to 37.7 percent shooting in a 103-77 win.
This was the Spurs' 18th win in a row, and Indiana's fifth loss in six games. It dropped the Pacers to second in the Eastern Conference, and something is going to have to change quickly if they are going to get back to where they want to be.
Tony Parker scored a game-high 22 points for the Spurs, and Kawhi Leonard added a cool 13 points and 11 rebounds. Paul George scored 16 points on 5-for-13 shooting for Indiana, putting up almost identical numbers to what he finished with on Sunday in Cleveland. Rasual Butler played 22 minutes off the bench for Indiana, while Evan Turner only saw seven minutes of action. San Antonio held a 32-15 lead early in the second quarter and Indiana could not recover.
Memphis Grizzlies 94, Denver Nuggets 92
The Grizzlies badly needed this win after dropping consecutive games in Golden State and Portland, but the real story here is what happened on Denver's final possession:
Yep, that's Timofey Mozgov shooting a three for the tie. Yep, that's how it was drawn up.
''We know that I can make threes,'' Mozgov told reporters. ''We tried. I just missed it. It wasn't good.''
We know that? Mozgov did make one last week against the Spurs, I guess, but he's 1-for-13 from behind the arc this season. And his decision to go for the dunk instead of passing to the wide-open Ty Lawson or Aaron Brooks for a three after getting his own rebound was even more questionable than giving him the shot. Welp.
Credit where credit is due, though: Mozgov finished with a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 9-for-15 from the field. Zach Randolph had 20 and 11 for Memphis, while the Grizzlies' backcourt of Mike Conley and Courtney Lee added 19 apiece.
There's now a three-way tie at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff race, with Memphis, Dallas and Phoenix all at 44-30. It's a damn shame one of them will have to miss the playoffs.
Charlotte Bobcats 100, Washington Wizards 94
Kemba Walker scored nine of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, adding 10 assists and five rebounds in this important win for the Bobcats. Walker missed all 10 of his three-point attempts and shot just 6-for-22 from the field, but played a big role in leading his team back down the stretch. Charlotte ended the game on a 19-4 run and overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to move to only two games behind the Wizards in the standings.
Al Jefferson scored eight of his 19 points in the fourth quarter after getting seven stitches above his right eye in the first half, and he also had 11 rebounds and two blocks. Chris Douglas-Roberts had 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting off the bench, including eight fourth-quarter points on 3-for-3 shooting.
Bradley Beal finished with a team-high 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting for Washington. John Wall had an off night, managing just 10 points and shooting 4-for-16 from the field with six assists and five turnovers. The Wizards scored 40 points in the second quarter and 34 in the second half.
Miami Heat 93, Toronto Raptors 83
LeBron James had 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in this one, and he also did this:
The Heat were without Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Greg Oden, but the Raptors were much more hampered without Kyle Lowry, who was limited to 26 minutes because of what the team termed a sore left knee. Lowry banged knees with James in the third quarter and, though x-rays were negative, the city of Toronto is rather scared:
Kyle Lowry driven the 100 yards to the team bus on the back of cart. Limping badly. Wouldn't comment. #rtz— cathalkelly (@cathalkelly) April 1, 2014
Backup point guard Greivis Vasquez had 17 points for the Raptors, and DeMar DeRozan had 16 points, but failed to get to the free throw line.
While Miami moved up to first in the East, Toronto is tied with Chicago for third.
New York Knicks 92, Utah Jazz 83
Carmelo Anthony's 34 points on 11-for-19 shooting led the Knicks to victory, and they're just a game back of Atlanta for the eighth playoff spot. New York started slowly and was behind 27-22 at the end of the first quarter, but had it almost tied by halftime thanks to a ridiculous end-of-second-quarter play:
The Knicks went on separate 15-2 and 17-2 runs in the second half. New York rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. left the game with a sprained right ankle and x-rays were negative.
Gordon Hayward scored a team-high 18 points for Utah, while Alec Burks had 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists off the bench.
Atlanta Hawks 103, Philadelphia 76ers 95
This could have been a bad one for Atlanta. The Hawks trailed 31-18 at the end of the first quarter and didn't take the lead until late in the third. Paul Millsap had 28 points and 17 rebounds, and Lou Williams came off the bench to score 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting against his former team.
Thaddeus Young stuffed the stat sheet for the Sixers, finishing with 23 points, four assists, three rebounds, four steals and three blocks, shooting 7-for-10 from the field. Not sure who he was passing to here, though:
Detroit Pistons 106, Milwaukee Bucks 101
The Pistons narrowly avoided the distinction of losing to the league's two worst teams in consecutive games, going on a 12-0 fourth quarter run to come away with a win. Josh Smith scored 15 of his 26 points in the final frame, shooting 11-for-19 overall.
Greg Monroe had a game-high 28 points and 14 rebounds for Detroit. Andre Drummond had 10 points and 16 boards.
In the battle of Brandons against their former teams, the Pistons' Brandon Jennings had 20 points and 13 assists, while Milwaukee's Brandon Knight had a team-high 25 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Ramon Sessions had 20 points, 11 assists and five rebounds in 44 minutes for the shorthanded Bucks. The last time Milwaukee won on the road was Feb. 24 in Philadelphia. The second-last time was Jan. 31 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Chicago Bulls 94, Boston Celtics 80
Joakim Noah had a typically Joakim Noah line of 19 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals. Mike Dunleavy scored a game-high 22 points. The Bulls held the Celtics to 10 points in the fourth quarter and 40 percent shooting overall.
I know what you're wondering, though. You're wondering how Rajon Rondo did as color commentator.
Mike & Rondo - pic.twitter.com/GCV1DwE0RC— Jay O (@MrTrpleDouble10) March 31, 2014
He also shared a nice Noah story, via Gary Dzen of the Boston Globe:
"About two years ago we came to an understanding, because we were always going at each other and we didn't understand why," said Rondo. "I think it's because we both love to compete.
One game we were at the free throw line and we were like, 'Why do we even go at each other?'"
Brandon Bass and Jerryd Bayless had 18 apiece for Boston. Chicago moved to 10 games over .500 for the first time.
In the absence of Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford, the Clippers had little trouble with Minnesota. Darren Collison had 28 points and seven assists, and Chris Paul 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and 24 (!) rebounds. The game wasn't as close as the score indicates, as Los Angeles held a 22-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
Kevin Love had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Wolves. Nikola Pekovic played just seven minutes before his ankle started bothering him. Ricky Rubio finished with just three points on 1-for-6 shooting and was -32 in 28 minutes.
Sacramento Kings 102, New Orleans Pelicans 97
DeMarcus Cousins bullied the Pelicans on the inside, finishing with 35 points and 14 rebounds, shooting 13-for-18 from the field. Ray McCallum had 22 points and 10 assists in 44 minutes. Rudy Gay added 22 of his own for the Kings.
New Orleans' Anthony Davis had 22 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four blocks and two steals returning from an ankle injury. Anthony Morrow had 23 on 9-for-13 shooting. The Anthonys didn't have much help.
Cousins shot 7-for-7 in the third quarter.