Bucks storm back to top Kings, 133-124
A 15-point deficit is nothing when you have Giannis Antetokounmpo on your side. The NBA’s resident super unicorn scored 46 points and collected 12 rebounds to help the Bucks comeback to beat the Kings, whose Domantas Sabonis finished with a 23-17-15 triple-double, his 10th of the season, despite the loss.
Khris Middleton scored 31 points and Brook Lopez added 23 for Milwaukee, which is almost certain to become the first team in the league to clinch a playoff berth this season. The Bucks are storming through any and all competition these days — they’ve won eight of their last 10 and don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.
Rockets stun Celtics, 111-109
Were the Celtics zapped of all skill by the Monstars? After losing three in a row to the Nets, Knicks, and Cavs within the last few weeks — not teams you want to fall to as the playoffs inch closer and closer — it seemed as though the Beantown boys were back on track. They blew out the Trail Blazers and took care of the Hawks for consecutive wins, with the Rockets, Timberwolves, Blazers, and Jazz all coming up on the schedule. Any betting man would’ve taken the Celtics to win every single one of those games as part of a much-needed surge to contend with Milwaukee atop the Eastern Conference standings. And any betting man would’ve lost said bet before it really even had a chance to hit.
Despite a season-high 43 points from Jaylen Brown to lead all scorers, Jalen Green’s 28 and Jabari Smith Jr.’s 24 were enough for the Rockets to outlast the C’s late surge. The Celtics had an opportunity to send the game to overtime at the buzzer, but Jayson Tatum — who shot just 36 percent from the field and finished with 22 points — missed a layup.
The win snapped a three-game skid for Houston, just as it dropped Boston to 5-5 in its last 10 games. Milwaukee is 2.5 games clear of Boston for first place in the East.
Klay’s first-half explosion enough for Warriors to beat Suns, 123-112
A 38-point night for Klay Thompson might feel better had the majority of those points came in the second-half, thus leading a charge toward victory. But a 33-point first half works, too. Despite a second-half comeback by the Suns, Golden State rode Thompson’s big night, plus 23 points, seven rebounds, and five assists from Steph Curry. Jordan Poole had 20 points and six assists off the bench; for Phoenix, Devin Booker had 32, and Deandre Ayton finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds. The Suns have now lost two in a row, while the Warriors are 7-3 in their last 10 and just a game and a half behind the Suns for the fourth spot in the West.
Timberwolves thump Hawks, 136-115
Anthony Edwards is on his way to becoming perhaps the best Timberwolf in franchise history. That is not an exaggeration. With his 32-point, eight-rebound, five-assist night to lead Minnesota past Atlanta with ease, he had his eighth 30-5-5 game of the season. That’s just four fewer than Kevin Love for most in a single-season in franchise history.
I could see him topping that list as the T-Wolves fight to stay in playoff contention this season. If not this season, it’s coming eventually.
Pistons rout Pacers, 117-97
For two teams as relatively dead in the water as these two, you have to look for silver linings somewhere. For Detroit, I suppose snapping an 11-game losing streak is one. But then again, what about Wemby! (At least they won on the same night that the Rockets did; those two being neck and neck for the title of “Worst in the NBA” is a dogfight if there ever was one.) But how about a real positive story: James Wiseman has been a nice pickup for the Pistons. And it’s lovely to see him finding his footing in Detroit after floundering as a young buck in Golden State.
He led the way for Detroit with 18 points and 14 rebounds as they crushed Indiana on Monday. If he keeps it up, perhaps he’ll have found a home for good.
Grizzlies handle Mavs, 104-88
No All-Stars were present for either squad in this one, with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving sitting for the Mavs, and Ja Morant remaining away from the Grizzlies due to his off-court issues. But Desmond Bane would like a word. He scored 23 points to lead the Grizzlies, who also saw a huge effort from rookie David Roddy. He scored a career-high 19 points to help fuel the Grizzlies’ big win. For Dallas, it was the Jaden Hardy and Josh Green show — 28 points and 23 points, respectively, a solid consolation prize for a team without its two best scorers and playmakers.
Heat survive close call with Jazz, 119-115
It’s safe to say that the Heat will never have a game that is ever not close, perhaps ever again. On Monday, it was the Jazz keeping things tight, as the game had 18 lead changes and still felt undecided in the final moments.
Talen Horton-Tucker put the Jazz ahead with just over a minute remaining, but not 20 seconds later, Tyler Herro drained a triple to put the Heat up by two. Miami kept that lead until the end of the game, when Ochai Agbaji had his shot blocked by Bam Adebayo, was fouled on the rebound. He made two free throws with six seconds left to seal the win, Miami’s 24th win by five or fewer points of the season.
Jimmy Butler scored 24 points to lead seven Heat players in double figures. Tyler Herro and Gabe Vincent each scored 18, while Adebayo (16), Kevin Love (11), Victor Oladipo (11), and Caleb Martin (10) rounded out the Heat’s top contributors. Lauri Markannen — who else — led all scorers with 38 despite Utah’s loss.