Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.
But they locked down eventually and ran away in the fourth quarter 29-16. The saving grace? Nene, recently returned, with 17 points.
And hey, Otto Porter had nine points and nine boards. No, seriously, he did.
I'm going to keep saying this as many times as necessary. Why in the hell is Victor Oladipo only playing 16 minutes at this point in the season? What's the value in Jameer Nelson taking those minutes?
Is there blackmail involved? Is there some sort of rift in the universe that will open if the Magic play their best young player more than 30 minutes?
He tweaked an ankle and banged knees, so maybe that was it. But if he wasn't hurt, it's awfully weird.
Anyway, Dewayne Dedmon started and took seven shots, so the Magic are ultra-serious about winning.
Knicks don't die, they multiply.
The Raptors had energy early, but the Knicks hung in there and kept at it. Amar'e Stoudemire made plays offensively and Iman Shumpert absolutely locked down in the second half. Throw in Carmelo Anthony doing his cooking thing and the Knicks prolong the sweet relief of death for another game.
The Knicks' tragic number is one.
They kept going for the home run ball, even though that's not at all their real strength. Jonas Valanciunas was great early but by the end was getting outworked and outsmarted.
They could have used some offensive balance. It was basically DeRozan, Lowry, and Ross, and Ross wasn't hitting. They needed more even distribution. Amir Johnson was winded coming back from injury and that didn't help.
It is concerning that they were outworked by a team in a playoff mindset. They're about to see a lot more of that.
Big Al Jefferson continued his All-NBA campaign with 32 points and 10 rebounds, but he didn't get much help from his supporting cast as the Bobcats lost a pretty crucial game. This was supposed to be an easy victory to help secure the sixth seed, but they lost ground on a night the Wizards won. Charlotte is currently in the seventh seed after tonight.
No Rajon Rondo on deck wasn't a problem for the Boston Celtics as they managed to outlast the Charlotte Bobcats at home. Phil Pressey had 10 points and 13 assists and Avery Bradley led the team with 22 points. Boston is the 28th worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA but they managed to hit 47.8 percent from downtown against the Bobs.
On the road, Atlanta could have just bailed on this game, but they maintained some disciplined and captured the lead.
Most impressvie? This was defense. Teague and Millsap carried them, but Kyle Korver was 0-5. That doesn't happen, ever. But Teague took care of business, especially late with a huge floater.
Brooklyn didn't have it Friday. They were just short on focus. They managed to pull themselves back into the game, but then Paul Pierce missed free throws, and several big threes on bad shots. Joe Johnson didn't have it going either and that's a huge chunk of their offense.
Indiana came out blistering from the field but eventually their spacing went back to the mess it has been for two months. They couldn't turn the Heat over and Miami kept hammering them in the post inside and out.
Their transition defense was pretty good except for a six minute stretch to start the tihird which decided the game.
LeBron James had 36-5-6 and it seemed pedestrian. That's what LeBron James is. He makes the remarkable common.
Meanwhile, the Heat's guards were fantastic, especially Toney Douglas. No, seriously, Toney Douglas.
Udonis Haslem got the call in the post vs. Hibbert and shut him down while scoring. The veteran has come on strong recently and it makes a huge difference in what they do.
Then, you know the Pistons remembered they're the Pistons.
Going down early by double digits was weird, but they seemed to see the Raptors score at halftime and wake up from their slumber.
D.J. Augustin had 24 points, so that's a thing that keeps happening.
I tink we're done here.
It takes a pretty bad team to make the Grizzlies' offense look high-powered. The Sixers dare to be that team.
Memphis is back in the 8th seed.
They can find ways to score to stay in games but can't get stops wen they need it.
Oh, and did I mention they let Corey Brewer score 51 points?
Corey Brewer scored 51 points. FIFTY. ONE. POINTS.
Nothing else matters about the Wolves season. Not making the playoffs, massive disappointment, Kevin Love may leave, who cares. Corey Brewer scored fifty-one points!
God help the Pelicans.
I love it when teams just take care of business. No messing around. No confusion or debate. Just stomp them down, put the foot on the throat, and be done with it.
The Thunder had this thing done in a quarter.A forfeit would have been more work due to paperwork.
Dion Waiters led the Cavs with 23 points and Jarrett Jack scored 21 off the bench in a game in which neither team really cared about playing defense. Like the Bucks in this game, the Cavs lived at the free throw line while not turning the ball over. Their 28 made free throws were the fifth time they've made at least that many this season and the first time they lost one of those games..
The Milwaukee Bucks will not go quietly into the night. 24 points from Brandon Knight and 20 points from Ramon Sessions led the Bucks' attack as they dropped 119 on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Their 52.4 percent from the field was just the ninth time this season they made half of their shots or better. They're 6-3 in those games, 9-61 when they don't.
The Suns had a lead on the road in San Antonio without Goran Dragic. That should count for something. But the way the Spurs deconstructed the Suns' usually efficient players like Marcus and Markieff Morris and the way they just diced them in spurts was so Spurs like.
Phoenix needed this game, espeically since they were ahead. They have lost control of their destiny for the 8th seed.
The Spurs Spur better than any Spurs team of all time. They just did all those things that you wish your team did and did them better than you would expect a team on a back to back to do. Another huge win and guess what?
The Sprus have clinched home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Portland Trail Blazers have a recipe for success: bombard you from 3-point range and don't turn the ball over. That's exactly what they did to complete their season sweep of the Utah Jazz. Wesley Matthews led them with 21 points as they shot 50.0 percent from 3-point range and only turned the ball over eight times, giving up seven points off of them.
The Utah Jazz didn't necessarily play a poor game against Portland. The starters all played pretty well, the team shot well, Derrick Favors led them with 21 points, and they outrebounded the Blazers. But they just don't have enough firepower to hang with Portland. This was the third defeat by the hands of the Blazers this season which ended in a double-digit loss. There's always next year.
The Warriors came out with something to prove after blowing Thursday night's game against the Nuggets. Stephen Curry was not losing this game and in the interim, the Warriors got their ball movement going a little more.
The Warriors have clinched a playoff berth.