With Memphis fighting for a playoff spot and Miami fighting for a No. 1 seed, the Grizzlies stepped up and got a big win Wednesday. It allows the team to keep pace with Phoenix for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, which is still up for grabs with a few games remaining in the season.
The Suns also won on Wednesday, allowing them to stay a game ahead for that pivotal eighth spot.
Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies in the win, going off for 25 points on 12-of-15 shooting and 11 rebounds. Mike Conley had 26 points, but we should probably just talk about Marc Gasol. He's a magician whose talent must be appreciated:
That combination of court vision and passing skill would be unbelievable for a point guard -- seeing it from a 7-footer is just unfair. The big Spaniard finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds and three assists in the win.
And because LeBron James is awesome, even in losses, here's two of his 37 points (on 14-of-23 shooting) on a reverse put-back slam:
With the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line, Charlotte built up a big first-quarter lead before blowing things in regulation. Luckily, the Bobcats rebounded from there to dominate the overtime period, preventing the Wizards from making a single field goal in five minutes.
This continues a nasty habit of poor starts for Washington, and coach Randy Wittman wasn't happy about it after the game:
WITTMAN: "The whole first half is a total disappointment."— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) April 10, 2014
Now the Bobcats have the tiebreaker over the Wizards for that sixth seed and a chance to avoid Indiana in the first round. That's despite getting a triple-double from John Wall and a 27-point, 14-rebound effort from Marcin Gortat on Wednesday.
Al Jefferson led Charlotte with 20 points and 18 rebounds.
Cleveland shot 57 percent from the field. Detroit shot 35 percent. There's your game, right there.
Dion Waiters led the Cavs with 22 points, but pretty much everyone was pouring it on in this one. Detroit can't really play defense these days, but that shouldn't be excuse to celebrate when EVERYTHING IS HAWESOME:
Spencer Hawes had 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, plus eight rebounds, in 19 minutes.
Atlanta's lead for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference is back up to two games after a win over reeling Boston on Wednesday. That's nine straight losses for the Celtics, who seem content with drudging to the finish line before making their noise in the draft.
It's a big win for the Hawks, though, particularly given the back-to-back games against Brooklyn and Miami coming on Friday and Saturday. Atlanta may not win either of those, but now it has some much-needed breathing room with just a few games remaining in the season.
All five starters scored in double-figures for the Hawks in the win, led by Jeff Teague's 19 points and eight assists. Paul Millsap added 14 points and 14 rebounds, while Kyle Korver was an efficient 5-of-8 from the field en route to 17 points.
Rajon Rondo led Boston with 19 points and 12 assists.
This was an easy win for Toronto, but also a badly needed one with the Bulls making a run for the No. 3 seed. The Sixers, unsurprisingly, didn't have many answers for the Raptors on the defensive end.
Toronto "only" shot 50 percent, but scored more than half its points on three-pointers and free throws. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were just 13-of-33 combined from the floor, but boosted their combined production by going 19-of-20 from the charity stripe.
Terrence Ross was the quietest of the Raptors' starters, but also delivered the highlight of the game with this spin-o-rama three:
Joe Johnson nearly carried Brooklyn to a win with his fourth-quarter antics, but the Magic executed down the stretch to get the win. It continues a quiet theme of solid play from the team at home this season -- the Magic are now 19-20 when playing in Orlando, but 4-35 on the road.
In the final two minutes, Johnson hit four consecutive shots to cut Orlando's lead to 110-109 with 14 seconds left, but Jameer Nelson hit four straight free throws in the waning moments to help put things away.
Johnson finished with 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting, but couldn't help his team get the necessary stops to get the victory. Mirza Teletovic added 17 points, 15 coming from three, in the loss.
Suns 94, Pelicans 88
With the Grizzlies' big win, Phoenix keeps up by topping New Orleans. The Suns maintain their lead over Memphis for the No. 8 seed in the West by completing the season sweep of Anthony Davis and company on the road.
Gerald Green came off the bench to lead the Suns with 21 points, while Goran Dragic continued his breakout season with 20 points and nine assists. Eric Bledsoe finished with 16 points, six rebounds and six assists in the victory, Phoenix's eighth in 10 games.
Only two of the Pelicans' starters scored in double-figures, but all four reserves did. Jeff Withey led the team in scoring with 17, and he even got a referee involved in the form of a ball-saving header:
Every win will build confidence in Indiana, and a two-point win over the league's worst team counts when your starters don't play. The Pacers took a page out of Gregg Popovich's book Wednesday, starting Luis Scola, Evan Turner, Donald Sloan, Rasual Butler and Ian Mahinmi in the game.
It proved to be a highly successful night for the team -- not only did the reserves carry Indiana to a tight victory on the road, but Miami lost in Memphis as well. That combination has the Pacers back atop the Eastern Conference for the time being.
This should have been an easier victory, though -- the Pacers somehow gave up 35 points to the Bucks in the fourth quarter. Even with the bench guys in, coming off the heels of allowing just 17 points in the third, things were awfully close.
Scola led the Pacers with 24 points, while Turner added 23 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Chris Copeland came off the bench to score 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 17 minutes.
Bulls 102, Timberwolves 87
That's six straight wins for Chicago, which stays tied with Toronto for the third seed in the East.
The Bulls actually trailed at halftime in this one, 53-48, but would clamp down defensively for the remainder of the contest. Minnesota scored just 17 points apiece in the final two quarters, allowing Chicago to pull away as its offense poured things on.
Other than Carlos Boozer, who shot 3-of-13 from the floor, the rest of the team shot 55 percent from the field. D.J. Augustin led the way with 21 points, while Joakim Noah recorded his latest triple-double -- 15 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
Kevin Love led Minnesota with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
These two teams ended up launching a combined 68 three-pointers, with each team shooting around 40 percent. The Nuggets were a bit better from inside the arc, though, and used that advantage to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Rockets.
Randy Foye continued his strong shooting year for Denver, leading all players with 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting. He was 6-of-10 from beyond the arc, hitting more than half of the Nuggets' three-pointers, and also added 15 assists in arguably his best performance in years.
The Rockets had eight players score in double-figures, but nobody topped Jeremy Lin's 18 points. That wouldn't be enough with Foye and company racking up points on the other end, leaving the Rockets unable to strengthen their grip on the No. 4 seed out West.
Blazers 100, Kings 99
Dorell Wright hit a three-pointer from the corner with 7.9 seconds left to give the Trail Blazers a one-point win at home over the Kings. DeMarcus Cousins hit two free throws with 14.8 seconds remaining to give Sacramento the lead, capping off a 30-point, 12-rebound effort, but it wasn't enough for the Kings, who outscored Portland 28-21 in the final period.
Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to lead the Thunder to a tough road win in Los Angeles. In the battle for the No. 2 sees in the Western Conference, the Thunder (57-21) lead the Clippers (55-24) by three games in the loss column with four games to play.
Kevin Durant poured in 27 points in Oklahoma City's second straight win.