Thirty-eight points for Antetokounmpo, the Bucks win and convince against Indiana. Rematch for the Lakers on the Bulls, Durant returns and drags the Suns
The march of the gods continues Milwaukee Bucks. The rulers of the Western Conference, driven by a sumptuous Giannis Antetokounmpo (38 points), defeat the Indiana Pacers 149-136. They don’t respond in kind i Grizzliesdefeated by the Clippers, victories instead for the 76ers e per Phoenix who finds Durant. THE Lakers they take their revenge on the Bulls, while Sacramento celebrates: the Kings beat Portland and lock down the playoff. Utah smiles too.
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES-LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS 132-141
The streak of the Memphis Grizzlies ended after seven consecutive victories, defeated by a reworked version of the Clippers. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are missing, who mark a visit in this match, but the driving force is a sumptuous Russell Westbrook: for one night the former Lakers player returns to OKC levels, signing 36 points and 10 assists with 13/18 shooting and 5/5 from three. An equally decisive Robert Covington (27) makes seven triples out of seven, while Bones Hyland closes with 20. They are the decisive players for the victory of the Clippers in the first of two games against the Grizzlies, for which a Morant is not enough rested. The All-Star, out in the previous match, scores 34 points in the first three quarters and is lost in the last and decisive period, scoring two: he closes with 36 but that’s not enough, just as Dillon Brooks’ 30 and the double digits for Aldama (17), Tillman (16) and Kennard (12). Memphis remains second in the West (48-28) and will be able to make up for it in forty-eight hours, against the fifth in the Western Conference (41-36).
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS-DALLAS MAVERICKS 116-108
The Sixers find Embiid and Harden and also find themselves, restarting after three defeats in a row. The abstinence of the Mavericks in the last three minutes of the match was decisive, which sanctions yet another defeat by the formation of the pair composed of Doncic and Irving: 24 points for the Slovenian and 23 for the former Nets player are not enough to avoid the knockout, which drops Dallas to one game away from the play-ins (37-40). Instead, the Philadelphia 76ers smile, dragged by Embiid’s 25 points and Harden’s 15 with 12 assists, to which are added 22 points for Tyrese Maxey. Thus comes victory number 50 (with 26 knockouts) for Philadelphia, solidly third in the Eastern Conference.
INDIANA PACERS-MILWAUKEE BUCKS 136-149
A monstrous performance in the offensive zone, with 62.4% shooting, allows the Milwaukee Bucks to clearly defeat Indiana. The third quarter was decisive, in which the guests scored 46 points and directed the challenge. There are two driving forces for Milwaukee: on the one hand Jrue Holiday who finishes with 51 points (20/30 shooting), eight rebounds and eight assists, on the other Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek is equally in a state of grace and it can be seen from his boxscore: 38 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists for a sumptuous triple-double already obtained in the first half. The Bucks stretch to the top of the Eastern Conference, with 55 wins and 21 knockouts, and have the almost mathematical certainty of finishing in the lead and challenging an opponent easier (with home advantage) in the playoffs. Almost out of the post-season, however, Indiana with 12th place in the East and three victories from the play-ins (33-44 his score).
CHICAGO BULLS-LOS ANGELES LAKERS 110-121
LeBron James returns and takes his revenge on the Chicago Bulls, who will probably keep the tenth place in the East until the end of the season (36-40 the score). Vucevic’s 29 points (with 12 rebounds) and DeRozan’s 22 are not enough to avoid defeat, which came about with an initial disadvantage and the inability to react in the second half. The driver of the Lakers, on the other hand, is Anthony Davis: 38 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists for him, which obscures LeBron’s 25 points (+23 plus/minus). The two All-Stars are echoed by a wild Austin Reaves, who closes at 19 and takes revenge on that Patrick Beverley who had mocked Los Angeles after the victory of the Bulls in the previous match. The Lakers thus make a leap in the standings, climbing to eighth place with a score of 38 wins and 38 knockouts: the playoffs are now two wins away.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS-SACRAMENTO KINGS 80-120
The Sacramento Kings make history, returning to the playoffs after 17 years, breaking the withdrawal from the longest post-season in NBA history. Race without history, the one against the second lines of Portland, who have now become the very owners. The Kings open the game in the third quarter (33-18) and fly unopposed up to a humiliating +40 on their opponents. The leading scorer is Malik Monk, with 19 points off the bench, while Sabonis and Fox manage each other finishing with 15 and 18 points on the scoresheet. Keegan Murray, on the other hand, signs the season-record triples for a rookie (188) on the perfect day for the Kings, who overwhelm a struggling Portland, which fields only seven players: Sharpe’s great performance, who ends with 30 points, is useless , but shooting only with 10/30 from the field. The Trail Blazers season is virtually over, with 13th place in the West (32-44), the Kings season has just begun. They are solidly third (46-30), with the playoffs in the pocket and two wins from the Grizzlies.
PHOENIX SUNS-MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES 107-100
Kevin Durant returns and the Phoenix Suns return to success at home, even if Kd does not shine with only 16 points. So the feat fails for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who arrive very tired at the third consecutive away game and see their streak of four consecutive successes interrupted. The 31 points of Anthony Edwards and the 25 of Karl-Anthony Towns, opaque in the second half (only five points), are not enough for the guests. The two Minnesota stars do not find support from their teammates, with only Naz Reid (15) in double figures, while Phoenix disputes a very good collective performance: Durant’s 16 points are counterbalanced by the 29 of an excellent Devin Booker (12/15 free) and 19 of Chris Paul. Phoenix thus maintains fourth place in the West (41-35) ahead of the Clippers, with Minnesota seventh (39-38).
NEW YORK KNICKS-MIAMI HEAT 101-92
Very heavy victory for the New York Knicks, who lose Julius Randle due to injury and find themselves fielding the same quintet throughout the last quarter. A move that works, because Quickley’s 24 points and Grimes’ 23 are decisive for defeating the Miami Heat and effectively securing fifth place in the Eastern Conference (44-33). Gabe Vincent’s 21 points are not enough for the Heat, in a bad night for Jimmy Butler: only 12 points for the star from Miami, who sees the play-ins approaching. The guests are in fact seventh in the East, with 40 victories and 37 knockouts.
BROOKLYN NETS-HOUSTON ROCKETS 123-114
Down by five lengths with three minutes to go, the Brooklyn Nets accomplish the feat and comeback with a sumptuous 11-0 run on the Rockets, who collapse in the last quarter. Brooklyn smiles twice, because the success and the knockout in Miami extend the lead over seventh place to one and a half races. The Nets are therefore approaching the playoffs thanks to Kevin Durant’s replacements in the January-February trades: Cam Johnson closes with 31 points, Mikal Bridges puts 27 on the scoresheet, including twelve in the decisive quarter. Claxton’s 18 points (10 rebounds) and Dinwiddie’s 20 (11 assists) also stand out, with the Nets getting back up after four knockouts in a row at home. On the other hand, there are seven consecutive defeats for Houston, very last in the West (18-59) and knocked out again despite Kevin Porter Jr.’s 31 points and Alperen Sengun’s double-double (21 points and 12 rebounds). Too many three-point mistakes and free throws weigh.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS-UTAH JAZZ 117-128
The San Antonio Spurs in turn continue to string defeats in this season finale, being overwhelmed by the Utah Jazz, who were coming off a four-game losing streak and are trying to launch a desperate comeback towards the play-ins (two wins away). Without Markkanen, Sexton, Clarkson and Gay, Talen Horton-Tucker is the driver of the away team: 41 points for him, in an evening that sees Simone Fontecchio start in the quintet and finish with four points on the scoresheet. Malaki Branham’s 21 points weren’t enough for the Spurs, in a night that saw six San Antonio players go into double figures. The umpteenth defeat, the fifth in a row, keeps coach Pop’s team in the penultimate place in the West (19-57). 12th instead Utah with 36 wins and 40 knockouts.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER-DETROIT PISTONS 107-106
The Oklahoma Thunder struggle more than expected, but they defeat the bottom side of the NBA with a very precious basket at the siren, which is worth the stretch on the Dallas Mavericks in the play-in race. Detroit is thus confirmed as the worst formation of the season, with 18 defeats in the last 19 games, despite the four players in double figures and Jaden Ivey’s 24 points. A single man in command in a team that dreams of the first choice-Nba. The decisive play for the Thunder signed Jalen Williams, rookie on the launch pad and top scorer in the absence of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: he finished with 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists. A decisive test for the play-in race: Okc is in fact tenth with 38 victories and 39 knockouts, ahead of the Mavericks (37-40) and Utah (36-40). The next five games will be decisive, while the Pistons have nothing more to ask for: 16 wins, 60 knockouts and the very last place in the East (and in the NBA) for them.