Friday night was packed with great NBA action, highlighted by the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference changing hands and a monstrous 51-point outburst from an unlikely player. The playoffs are almost here, but the final Friday of the regular season was a memorable one.
Miami Heat 98, Indiana Pacers 86
LeBron James scored a game-high 36 points, leading the Heat back to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers struggled with turnovers and keeping the Heat away from the free-throw line and lost control of their playoff destiny.
More on the Heat
More on the Heat
A huge 20-2 run in the third quarter turned a tight three-point Heat lead into a blowout. Roy Hibbert struggled, scoring just five points and grabbing a single rebound. Paul George scored a team-high 22 points.
If the Heat can close out the remainder of the season with wins they'll lock in the No. 1 seed, giving them home court advantage through the conference finals. They hit the road Saturday to face the Atlanta Hawks -- who are still trying to keep the New York Knicks away from the No. 8 seed --, followed by the Washington Wizards and return to Miami to host the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.
Minnesota Timberwolves 112, Houston Rockets 110
Corey Brewer scored 51 points in a regulation game of basketball. The Timberwolves' swingman joined a list filled with who's who, and a few who's that, players to eclipse the 50-point mark. He made 16 of his 19 attempts at the rim and sank 11 free-throws to reach the career milestone.
James Harden led Houston with 33 points and 10 assists, but a huge night from Brewer handed the Rockets their second straight loss.
The story remains Brewer's unlikely, incredible and miraculous night, however. Even Minnesota head coach Rick Adelman was astonished.
"I don't think they knew what to do with him. We didn't know what to do with him." - Adelman— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) April 12, 2014
Where were you on the night Corey Brewer dropped 51?
San Antonio Spurs 112, Phoenix Suns 104
The Phoenix Suns had control of their playoff destiny before this game tipped off and were on fire early on. They led by as many as 21 points. Victory seemed attainable against a banged up Spurs squad.
Then things got out of hand in a hurry.
San Antonio outscored the Suns 37-19 in the third and managed to hold on through the fourth quarter. Now, the Suns are on the outside of the playoffs looking in and have two must-win games lined up with the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies.
Eric Bledsoe had a magnificent night, dropped 30 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished nine dimes His near triple-double wasn't enough to sustain Phoenix through a 33-point storm from Danny Green, though.
New York Knicks 108, Toronto Raptors 100
The New York Knicks' playoff hopes are still alive even if the heart beat is difficult to detect. The Knicks picked up a tough road victory over the Raptors, though it was in question until the last moments of the game.
The Knicks handled their business at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, though, making 15 of their 16 attempts, and managed to avoid playoff seeding elimination another day.
Allanta Hawks 93, Brooklyn Nets 88
Speaking of the Knicks, the Atlanta Hawks managed to defend their position as the No. 8 seed out East with a big win in Brooklyn. While a 93-88 game between these clubs may not sound that interesting, it was filled with fun for the whole family. Really.
1. Paul Pierce reached the 25,000 career-points mark. The Truth not only sets you free, it scores buckets in bunches.
2. Jeff Teague crossed little brother Marquise Teague out his shoes but missed the follow-up layup. Warning: Do not look if broken ankles cause you distress:
3. Paul Pierce gave his thoughts to the dueling brothers:
What's not to love about this one?
Memphis Grizzlies 117, Philadelphia 76ers 95
The Grizzlies held up their end of the playoff bargain by beating up on the 76ers. The payoff? With the Suns' collapse to the Spurs, Memphis now holds on to the No. 8 seed in the West.
Six Grizzlies reached double-digits in scoring with Marc Gasol's 21-point, 10-rebound double-double leading the way.
A Spurs-Grizzlies first-round match-up could be in the works here.
Chicago Bulls 106, Detroit Pistons 98
Augustin scored 27 points, Gibson added in 17, and Noah's all-around game nearly notched him a triple-double. He finished the night with 11 rebounds, 10 assists and six points.
Washington Wizards 96, Orlando Magic 86
The Wizards are locked into the playoffs and picked up another win on the season with an ugly one over the Magic. Neither team performed particularly well on offense, but the Wizards simply played better. John Wall ended the night with a game-high 12 assists along with 10 points, and Nene scored a team-high 17 points off the bench.
Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka are back to doing their thing. The trio combined for 67 points, 21 rebounds and 12 assists en route to locking up the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
Boston Celtics 106, Charlotte Bobcats 103
Al Jefferson scored 32 points, but Phil Pressey rained on his parade. The rookie point guard dropped a career-high 13 assists along with 10 points, making huge plays for Boston in the victory. Six Boston players reached double-digit scoring, and Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley combined for 42 points.
Portland Trail Blazers 111, Utah Jazz 99
The Trail Blazers offense was roaring as Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews rained threes. The duo combined to go 7-for-13 from beyond the arc, and Portland turned in a big 35-point fourth quarter to send the Jazz to their 55th loss.
Milwaukee Bucks 119, Cleveland Cavaliers 116
And in the final game of Friday evening the Golden State Warriors clinched a spot in the Western Conference playoffs. In a night filled with near triple-doubles Stephen Curry closed it out by finally landing it. He trounced the Lakers for 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.