It was a crazy, injury-filled night with 12 games, including a dramatic OKC win that keeps their playoff hopes alive. Here’s what went down.
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Thunder 101, Blazers 90 - Russell Westbrook, who got to play because his technical foul was rescinded earlier in the day, went off again for 36 points, 11 boards, seven assists and two steals as the Thunder kept their playoff hopes alive. Enes Kanter added 27 points and 13 rebounds, and Dion Waiters added 13 points, seven boards, four assists and three steals on dismal 4-of-21 shooting. The Thunder have to beat the Wolves at Minnesota on Wednesday, and then need the Spurs to beat the Pelicans on the same night to get the No. 8 seed in the West. It depends on how badly the Spurs want the No. 2 seed on whether or not they play their studs on Wednesday, but given that they’re tied with the Clippers with matching 55-26 records, the odds are in OKC’s favor that the Spurs will try to win that game against the Pelicans. If New Orleans beats the Spurs, the Thunder are officially out.
Nicolas Batum hurt his knee twice on Monday and isn’t expected to play on Wednesday, while C.J. McCollum injured his left ankle in his third start of the season, and did not return. Allen Crabbe will likely get the start in that one. LaMarcus Aldridge (foot) and Arron Afflalo (shoulder) both sat out, but Aldridge sounds like he’ll play on Wednesday if he’s medically cleared to go. Meyers Leonard had a career-high 24 points, four rebounds and a block for the Blazers, Damian Lillard had 10, while reserves Joel Freeland, Chris Kaman and Alonzo Gee all scored in double digits. A starting lineup of Aldridge, Leonard, Lillard, Crabbe and Alonzo Gee could happen on Wednesday against the Mavs.
Knicks 112, Hawks 108 - The Knicks blew off the ping-pong balls and got an impressive win against the Hawks in Atlanta. Langston Galloway had a career-high 26 points, five boards, six assists and a steal, and hit 6-of-6 3-pointers in the win, while Tim Hardaway Jr. added 23 points, five assists and three 3-pointers. Jason Smith started and had 20 points, nine boards, five assists and a 3-pointer, and Quincy Acy added 12 points and a nice line off the bench. These are the guys, along with Shane Larkin (9 points, 7 assists) you’ll want to think about using on Wednesday against the Pistons.
The Hawks played their stars, although Paul Millsap was unable to go through his shoulder injury. Maybe he’ll play on Wednesday, but that remains to be seen. Mike Muscala started in his place again, but had just two points in 25 minutes. Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver each had 19 points and solid lines, while Al Horford added 18, and DeMarre Carroll scored 16 in the loss. The Hawks made a nice comeback, but were never really into this game. Given how badly they played against the Knicks, it’s possible the Hawks play the regulars again in Wednesday’s finale against the Bulls. Then again, it’s also entirely possible they rest the stars in preparation for the playoffs. We likely won’t know the plan until Wednesday afternoon. If the stars sit, I like Mike Scott, John Jenkins and Kent Bazemore in the finale.
Rockets 100, Hornets 90 - The Rockets got 29 points, six boards, six assists, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer from James Harden, who now trails Russell Westbrook by a half point for the scoring title (28 to 27.5). Jason Terry scored 13, Trevor Ariza had 11 and Terrence Jones had 10 points, 11 boards and four blocks. Dwight Howard sat out to rest, while Josh Smith double-doubled off the bench with 16 points and 11 boards, Corey Brewer scored 11 and Clint Capela scored 10 off the pine. The Rockets could end up in a three-way tie with the Spurs and Grizzlies for the Southwest Division lead, depending on what happens on Wednesday, and they’re also in a three-way tie with the Clippers and Spurs for the No. 2 seed in the West. I’m guessing Howard will be back against Utah, while Harden may go balls to the wall in hopes of winning the scoring title, and helping his team avoid the tiebreaker scenarios.
The Hornets were led by Brian Roberts off the bench with 23 points, five boards, three assists and five 3-pointers, starter Jeff Taylor had 16 points and two 3-pointers, and Bismack Biyombo added nine points, 13 boards, two steals and three blocks. Gerald Henderson was 1-of-10 for two points, Kemba Walker was 2-of-10 for four points for the Hornets, while Al Jefferson, Mo Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Lance Stephenson were all out with injuries. I’m guessing none of them will play on Wednesday, and Troy Daniels (and Roberts) are worth a look in the finale. Daniels had 15 points, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers in 28 minutes on Monday. Noah Vonleh could also do something on Wednesday, but hit just 1-of-8 shots on Monday.
Cavaliers 109, Pistons 109 - LeBron James returned to action and had a triple-double with 21 points, 10 boards and 11 assists (and 2 steals, 1 block and 3 3-pointers), while Kyrie Irving left with 12 points in 17 minutes after a hip injury. J.R. Smith scored 28 with eight 3-pointers, Timofey Mozgov added 16 points and 13 rebounds, Kevin Love added just seven points and four boards, while the bench did nothing. The surging Cavs are 33-9 since Jan. 15, and we just don’t know who will be in uniform for Wednesday’s finale against the Wizards. But I think Irving is doubtful to play, and I’d be surprised if LeBron plays in that one, either. If LeBron is out, look for Iman Shumpert to make some noise on Wednesday.
All five Pistons’ starters scored in double figures, led by Andre Drummond’s 20 points and nine boards, while Reggie Jackson had 18 points and eight dimes. Caron Butler started and had 19 points and six 3-pointers, and could be another sneaky play on Wednesday.
Bucks 107, Sixers 97 - Jason Kidd actually played his guys and got 30 points, five boards, five assists, three steals and a block from Michael Carter-Williams, who torched his former team on Monday. The starters all played normal minutes on Monday, but with the No. 6 seed sewed up in the East, it’s possible the Bucks rest the stars on Wednesday. Then again, Jason Kidd is ticked off about being asked about recent Giannis Antetokounmpo DNPs, so maybe he’ll just run his guys out there again, like he says he will.
The Sixers got 25 points, seven rebounds, a steal, four blocks and 10 turnovers from Robert Covington, and Hollis Thompson had 18 points and three 3-pointers in a start. Ish Smith started, but hit just 2-of-7 shots for four points, nine assists and three steals, while Thomas Robinson, Henry Sims and JaKarr Sampson all scored in double figures off the bench. Nerlens Noel (ankle) could play in Wednesday’s finale against the Heat, but it’s hard to say who will play heavy minutes for the Sixers in that one.
Bulls 113, Nets 86 - The Bulls clinched a Top-4 seed in the East and home court in Round 1 with the win. They’re currently a ½ game up on the Raptors and hold the No. 3 seed, but that could change if they lose on Wednesday against the Hawks. Nikola Mirotic led the way with 26 points, three steals and six 3-pointers off the bench, Pau Gasol added 22 points, 11 boards and two blocks, Jimmy Butler had 17 points and a full stat line, and Taj Gibson added 15 points, nine boards and four blocks in a start for Joakim Noah, who was rested. Derrick Rose had 13 points and seven dimes, and didn’t even play in the fourth quarter of the blowout. With the Bulls having a chance to clinch the No. 3 seed with a win against the Hawks, my guess is the big names should all be out there Wednesday.
The Nets fell into ninth place in the East (behind the Pacers) and will need to win against the Magic on Wednesday, and also need the Pacers to lose to have a chance at the playoffs. Bojan Bogdanovic led the way with 17 points and three 3-pointers off the bench, and Jarrett Jack added 15 points, also off the bench. Brook Lopez had 13 points and eight boards, Joe Johnson scored 12 points (and did nothing else), Thaddeus Young had eight points and 11 boards, and Deron Williams hit just 3-of-13 shots for nine points, seven boards and five assists. Those four disappointed in their starts, and the Nets probably don’t deserve to make the playoffs given the way they’ve played in their last two losses to the Bucks and Bulls.
Heat 100, Magic 93 - Hassan Whiteside tied a career high with 24 points and 13 boards, and Dwyane Wade had 22 points as the Heat kept their slim playoff dreams alive with the win. “So you’re saying there’s a chance,” Erik Spoelstra said after the game. They need a win against the Sixers on Wednesday, the Pacers have to lose on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Nets have to lose to Orlando on Wednesday for the Heat to get in. Luol Deng had 14 points, 10 boards, two steals and two 3-pointers, and Goran Dragic added 13 points, seven boards and eight dimes in the win. It should be all hands on deck for the Heat on Wednesday against Philly.
The Magic got 30 points and a full stat line from Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris came through with 26 points, 12 boards and two 3-pointers (where has that been?), and Elfrid Payton filled the stat sheet, but scored just 10 points. Nikola Vucevic played just 19 minutes and hit 1-of-7 shots for three points and four boards, but there are no reports of an injury.
Pelicans 100, Timberwolves 88 - The Pelicans have to beat the, gulp, Spurs on Wednesday, and need the Thunder to lose to the T-Wolves. If the opposite happens, the Thunder are in the playoffs and the Pels are out. Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans all played well, and are the guys you’ll want to use on Wednesday. None of the other Pelicans did anything.
Ricky Rubio had ankle surgery on Monday and is hopeful to be ready for training camp. Zach LaVine went off again for 24 points and seven assists, Chase Budinger scored 18, and Andrew Wiggins had 15 points and one of the dunks of the night. Kevin Martin sat out with an illness, but could play in Wednesday’s finale. Justin Hamilton left with a hamstring injury, and could be done for the season.
Jazz 109, Mavericks 92 - Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward rested for the Jazz, so Trevor Booker (13 & 12), Joe Ingles (15), Rudy Gobert (20-17-3) and Bryce Cotton (who?) all put up big numbers for Utah. Cotton could be a sneaky add for Wednesday after dropping 21 points on the Mavs last night.
Dallas rested most of its starters, so J.J. Barea (18), Charlie Villanueva (15) and Amare Stoudemire (15) all scored for the Mavs. Rajon Rondo added 13 points and five assists, which is disappointing given that Dirk, Monta and Ty Chandler were out.
Kings 102, Lakers 92 - In a meaningless game, Omri Casspi scored 26 and Derrick Williams had 20 off the bench for the Kings. Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, Ray McCallum and Andre Miller all hit double digits for the Kings, and all are decent options for Wednesday’s finale.
The Lakers got 23 points and a full line from Jordan Clarkson, and Jordan Hill and Jabari Brown each scored 18 in the loss. They were the only decent performers for the Lakers, but I like Clarkson and Brown in the finale on Wednesday. That’s all I got.
Warriors 111, Grizzlies 107 - Klay Thompson hit 15-of-20 shots and eight 3-pointers, scored 26 points in the second quarter, and finished with 42, and the Warriors are 38-2 at home with one to play. Stephen Curry added 15 points and eight assists, while the bench saw heavy minutes tonight. Thompson and Curry were the only double-digit scorers for GSW, while Draymond Green played 27 minutes and had a decent line. They’ll probably start the regulars in hopes of getting a 39th home win against Denver on Wednesday, but you can also expect the regulars to sit much of the second half, regardless of the score.
The Grizzlies needed this game to win their division and have fallen to the No. 6 seed in the West. They’ll try to win on Wednesday against the Pacers, but they’ve also got some health issues to tend to. Mike Conley missed hit third straight game and Tony Allen has missed eight in a row, and my guess is they rest again on Wednesday. Marc Gasol is dealing with a sprained ankle, and Jeff Green has a sore lower back, so it’s possible the Grizzlies give up on playoff seeding and just try to get their guys healthy before the playoffs. Jordan Adams (19 points) and Russ Smith (16 points in 10 minutes) led the Grizzlies tonight, and that leads me to believe the Grizzlies have given up on the regular season.
Clippers 110, Nuggets 103 – The Clips pulled off an impressive comeback win and moved into a three-way tie with the Spurs and Houston for the No. 2 seed in the West, and are guaranteed of having home court in Round 1 of the playoffs. Chris Paul will play in his 82nd game against the Suns on Tuesday, marking the first time in his career he will have done so. Blake Griffin nearly triple-doubled, DeAndre Jordan had 20 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks, and J.J. Redick had 20 points and three 3-pointers. With seeding still up in the air, look for the Clips to play their guys on Tuesday.
Wilson Chandler had a season-high 32 and six treys for the Nuggets, Kenneth Faried had 19 points and 17 rebounds as his late-season resurgence continues, and Randy Foye had 16 points, seven rebounds and eight dimes in a start. Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari rested in a back-to-back situation, and I have no idea if they’ll play in Wednesday’s finale against the Warriors. If they’re out, Foye, Gary Harris and Will Barton are all worth a look, while Faried and Chandler look like must-starts.