We’re in the home stretch of the regular season now with some teams having fewer than 20 games remaining, about a quarter of the way to go. The final playoff and play-in slots have been closely contested all season, but get some added intensity now.
Going into Wednesday, just 4.5 games separate No. 4 Phoenix and No. 13 Oklahoma City. To make the tension even tighter, all 10 of the teams in that range are somewhere between 4-6 and 6-4 over their last 10 games, so there isn’t even really a team starting to rise above the rest, though Kevin Durant making his Suns debut on Wednesday could make Phoenix the team that rises.
Warriors and Wolves are the two teams in that West hellfire range that picked up wins on Tuesday night, while Dallas missed a big chance to pick one up on the road.
Wizards spoil Quin Snyder’s debut with 119-116 win over Hawks
This had all the makings of a solid win for Atlanta — led by five going into the fourth, outshot the wizards by nearly 10% from three, had a better than 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio as a team, and seven hawks finished in double-figures.
Kyle Kuzma (28 points) and Bradley Beal (37 points) each scored go-ahead baskets in clutch time, and the Wizards never relinquished their lead afterwards. Hawks led by as much as nine earlier in the half.
Milwaukee takes control in second half of 118-104 win over Brooklyn
The Bucks outscored the nets by 24 in the second half; Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 18 of his 33 points in the latter half and grabbed 11 of his 15 rebounds. Three different Bucks hit multiple threes off the bench to help their cause. Over a 19:23 stretch from the second quarter to the fourth, Milwaukee swung an 11-point deficit into a 12-point lead.
After 31 points on his night, Mikal Bridges is now averaging 23.8 points since joining the Nets following the Kevin Durant trade. Spencer Dinwiddie, one of the beneficiaries of the Kyrie Irving trade, added 26 points for Brooklyn in the loss.
Raptors defend home court in 104-98 win over Bulls
Toronto is now 20-13 at home this season; no other East team outside the top 4 has 20 home wins. In a matter of about 15 minutes in the second half, the Raptors turned an 8-point deficit into a 9-point lead with just over six minutes remaining. Nikola Vucevic (23) and Pascal Siakam (20) were the game’s only 20-point scorers.
Ja Morant’s triple double lifts Grizzlies past Lakers 121-109
*incredibly Scooby-Doo villain voice* And it would’ve been a 40-point triple double if
it weren’t for you meddling kids he didn’t go 0-5 from three and miss two of his 11 free throw attempts. Kidding aside, Morant added two steals to his 39 points (15-29 FG), 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in just 34 minutes.
Lakers lose their first game during what could be a lengthy LeBron James absence despite 28 points (9-19 FG), 19 rebounds, and five blocks from Anthony Davis. They were about twice as effective as Memphis from beyond the arc, but turned the ball over 20 more times, churning out a recipe for losses.
Jokic posts another triple double as Nuggets take care of Rockets 133-112
Kings top Thunder in battle of West surprises 123-117
With a quarter of the season still to go, both of these teams have already hit their overs from their win totals before the season on DraftKings — Kings (36-25) have broken 32.5 and the Thunder (28-33) have broken 26.5.
Behind three Kings with 20-plus points and rookie Keegan Murray’s fourth career double double, Sacramento was able to weather the storm of not having De’Aaron Fox in the lineup. OKC was missing their star point guard too in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, so Jalen Williams picked up the slack with 27 points and eight assists.
Pacers hold on for 124-122 win over Mavs
It’s hard to watch a game like this and think that Luka Doncic (39 points, eight rebounds, and six assists) doesn’t hold some bad blood for his former head coach, Rick Carlisle, but I’m all for it when it gives us moments like these:
After that last Bullock 3P Luka turned to Rick Carlisle in front of the Pacers bench and mimed “calla a timeout now” to him.— Nick Angstadt (@NickVanExit) March 1, 2023
Rick didn’t take that very well pic.twitter.com/XvNBrMTqme
Rick Carlisle was asked during his pregame presser if he brought anything for Luka Dončić's birthday, and he responded by saying he brought Tyrese Haliburton.@TyHaliburton22 finished with 32 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in the win on HIS birthday. ♂️ pic.twitter.com/LBl1Bo3rKz— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) March 1, 2023
Pacers led by as much as 12 points early in the second half, but Dallas was ready to make a push, and push they did, even grabbing a lead in the third and coming close to winning it at the end of the game. Haliburton put the game on ice with some free throws at that point, stopping any hope of a comeback.
Spurs break 16-game skid with 102-94 win over Jazz
San Antonio starters combined to shoot 0-11 from three, but their bench shot a blistering 8-15 to counteract the starters’ shortcomings. Keldon Johnson led the team in scoring while Doug McDermott took care of most of the deep shooting, going 5-9 on his way to 19 points.
Warriors continue home dominance in 123-105 win over Blazers
Now 25-7 at home this season and 32-30 overall, Golden State finds themselves in the top 5 in the West, which maybe didn’t seem so possible when news of Steph Curry’s injury first came down. In his absence, the three starting guards stepped up big time as Jordan Poole (29), Klay Thompson (23), and Donte DiVincenzo (21) combined for 73 of the Warriors’ 123.
Fresh off his 71-point outing on Monday, Damian Lillard was held to just 25 points on 9-21 shooting. That’s a solid night for most, but it’s Dame’s lowest point total in well over a month and worst shooting night (42.9%) in nearly three weeks.