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Referee Scott Foster swings outcome of Nuggets-Raptors with technical foul, ejection

The NBA has been absolutely on fire since returning from the All-Star break, kicking the action into high gear for the final stretch before the playoffs. Some have speculated this could be commissioner Adam Silver auditioning for the Disney CEO job, and if that’s the case, what a brilliant move to have Scott Foster spice up the action:

A couple things are certain: (1) the NBA will be a better place when Foster is gone and (2) I am really hoping we, as a basketball-viewing public aren’t subjected to him deciding the outcomes of playoff games this summer.

We’re into March, and that means exciting basketball is on your doorstep. Let’s keep the NBA’s action clean and not affected by Foster or any officials. Celtics and Cavs, among many others on Monday night, did a great job of bringing excitement on their own terms:

Celtics blow another double-digit lead, 118-114 in overtime to Cavs

Grant Williams told Donovan Mitchell “I’m making both” free throws before missing both with a chance to take the lead with two free throws in the final second. It’s the Celtics’ third straight loss, all after having a double-digit lead. Mitchell, meanwhile, notched his eighth 40-point performance of the season in the win:

Sixers get last laugh in 147-143 thriller as Harden, Haliburton go toe-to-toe

James Harden’s remarkable 20-assist night looks unimpressive next to Haliburton’s 40 points and 16 assists, his second 40-point night of the year. It’s also the first time any Pacer has ever had 40 and 15. But Haliburton didn’t get the most important stat of the night, a W.

Joel Embiid led all scorers with 42 points of his own in a game that in any normal year would’ve been near the top in combined points; this season, a game with 290 points combined is still about 60 behind tops for the season, that Clippers-Kings double-OT game from not too long ago.

With the win and the Boston loss, the Sixers are now closer to #2 in the East than #4 after Boston spent so much of the season at the top of the East by themselves. Philly is 8-3 over their last 11, starting to tighten things up before the playoffs.

Lillard’s 30-point triple double gets Blazers past Pistons 110-104

Dame Lillard is having an all-time season, there’s just no other way to say it. He followed up 41 points on Sunday with 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists to now be averaging 32.4 points (47/38/92 shooting splits) and 7.2 assists on the year. Monday’s is Lillard’s second triple double of the season and third of his career.

You start to think about what awards season might look like for Lillard, and I think it has to start with All-NBA recognition. If he’s able to lead the Blazers to the play-in tournament (they’re currently tied with three other teams for #9), it’s hard to think there are two guards with a better case for even First Team All-NBA.

Heat hold off late push by Hawks in 130-128 win

Defense was optional in the first quarter as the two combined to shoot 29-44 (65.9%) from the floor and 9-15 (60.0%) from three as Atlanta took a 43-30 lead. Hawks saw their lead slip away over the next couple quarters but was knocking on the door late, forcing Miami to really shut the door on the comeback attempt.

Atlanta could never get over the hump and the Heat made the plays they needed to in order to get the win. Victor Oladipo, Jimmy Butler, and Tyler Herro combined for 26 points in the fourth, including all of Miami’s final 14 points over the final five minutes.

Nuggets beat Raptors 118-113 behind late-game Scott Foster shenanigans

The final eight Denver points came at the free throw line, including four following the Scottie Barnes ejection, and Jamal Murray (game-high 24 points on the night) and Aaron Gordon (19 points) combined for the final five made baskets to be the player catalysts on the night.

The refs said Barnes “questioned the integrity of the crew.”

Kings take over in 123-108 win over Pelicans

New Orleans is still struggling sans Zion Williamson and a true point guard, but Sacramento showed they don’t even need their elite point guard to have team success as they won handily without star De’Aaron Fox.

Kevin Huerter (game-high 25 points, including 6-10 from three) and Domantas Sabonis (19 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists for his eighth triple double this season) each stepped up in Fox’s absence as Sacramento lights the beam for the 38th time, just one shy of their best win total since 2005-06, which was also the last time they made the playoffs.

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