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Knicks 99, Raptors 94
When New York signed Kenyon Martin last month, it hoped the veteran big man might help it with a playoff push.
Left short-handed by a rash of frontcourt injuries, the Knicks are suddenly counting on Martin more than they ever imagined. Best of all, he’s coming up big.
Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points, Martin had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and the Knicks clinched a playoff berth with a win over Toronto on Friday night.
“He means a lot to this team right now,” Anthony said of Martin, his one-time Denver teammate. “We need him coming down the stretch.”
Making his fifth straight start, Martin connected on his first nine field goal attempts, not missing until 1:40 remained in the fourth quarter.
“He stepped up big time,” New York coach Mike Woodson said. “He scored for us, he rebounded, had a few blocks. He did a little bit of everything.”
Veteran guard Jason Kidd, who once played with Martin in New Jersey, said the 35-year-old has been an invaluable addition following injuries to big men Amare Stoudemire (right knee), Tyson Chandler (neck), Kurt Thomas (right foot) and Rasheed Wallace (left foot).
“He’s a true professional,” Kidd said. “If we didn’t have him we would be in trouble right now. He’s playing big on both ends.”
Out of basketball before the Knicks came calling, Martin said he considers himself “blessed” to be back on the court and playing for a contender.
“I just tried to stay ready,” he said. “An opportunity came for me to come out and play. It’s unfortunate that it’s because of injury, but I’ll take it.”
J.R. Smith scored 14 points as the Knicks earned their 41st win. That guaranteed they’ll reach the playoffs for the third straight season, something they hadn’t done since a 14-year streak of postseason appearances from 1988 to 2001.
With 15 games left and playoff seeding still undecided, Woodson doesn’t want his team easing up.
“We can’t have any slippage, no matter who we play, because Brooklyn is not going anywhere and Boston is not going anywhere,” Woodson said.
The league’s second-leading scorer, Anthony has 57 total points in his past two games after missing six of the previous eight with a sore right knee. His 43 minutes were about 10 more than Woodson had hoped he’d play, but Anthony wasn’t complaining.
“I’ll take on that challenge, I love that challenge, I want that challenge,” he said. “I wanted to see what I could do, especially being out and not playing the way I know how to play.”
The defeat was a double blow for Toronto, which lost for the 11th time in 15 games and saw forward Rudy Gay leave in the second with a sore back. Gay did not return, and his status for Saturday night’s rematch in New York was not known.
Alan Anderson scored a career-high 35 points, DeMar DeRozan had 18 and Jonas Valanciunas 10 as the Raptors lost their third straight. Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 10 assists.
Down by 14 points midway through the third, the Raptors rallied to make a game of it in the fourth. A three-point play by DeRozan cut it to 84-82 with 6:17 left, but Anthony answered with a three-point play of his own, keying a 10-2 run that put the Knicks up 94-84 with 4:00 remaining.
A putback dunk by Terrence Ross cut it to 97-92 with 39 seconds left and, after Smith missed a pair of free throws, Anderson made two from the line, making it 97-94.
Mavericks 104, Celtics 94
Jason Terry’s quiet fourth quarter was just about complete when Dallas center Brandan Wright waited near the basket for a lob pass from Shawn Marion.
Wright’s forceful slam on the alley-oop capped his season-high 23-point game, Dirk Nowitzki pitched in 22 and the Mavericks spoiled Terry’s return to Dallas with a victory against Boston.
“It’s his kind of game because there are a lot of small guys out there,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of Wright. “That’s the reason we started him. He navigates well in an athletic game without a lot of bruisers in it.”
Terry scored eight in his first game in Dallas since leaving for Boston in free agency. He was the latest key piece the Mavericks decided not to keep since beating Miami in the 2011 NBA finals.
Terry was known for 3-point shooting and clutch fourth quarters with the Mavericks, but he missed both 3-pointers for the game and was just 1 of 3 shooting without a try from long range in the final quarter.
He got a rousing ovation when he entered the game late in the first quarter, but it was brief because the game wasn’t stopped. Vince Carter almost immediately hit a 3-pointer to force the fans to cheer for the Mavericks again.
“It was nothing out of the ordinary. It was a good feeling,” Terry said. “But again, I was solely locked in on the game. It was good to see everyone. But I’m a Celtic now.”
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass led Boston with 16 points apiece. Garnett added 12 rebounds, and Bass grabbed 11.
The Mavericks kept their lead near the halftime margin of 11 until early in the fourth quarter, when Jordan Crawford hit a tough 3-pointer from the corner, then picked up a steal from Mike James near midcourt and made a reverse layup with Nowitzki in pursuit to pull Boston within six.
The Celtics had a chance to get within six again when Wright stripped Jeff Green on a drive, leading to a short jumper from Darren Collison for an 87-77 Dallas lead with 7:44 remaining.
“He was coming full speed and I knew that he wanted to get to the rim,” Wright said. “He’s one of the best attackers in the league. He exposed the ball and I just grabbed it and threw it back in. That was a big turnaround for us.”
The Celtics were within five in the final 2 minutes when Wright rebounded a miss from Carter, and O.J. Mayo had all the time he needed to measure up a 3-pointer for a 100-92 lead while a Courtney Lee sat near him holding his sprained left ankle. Lee said after the game the injury wasn’t serious.
One of Terry’s misses in the fourth was a pull-up jumper that could have made it a six-point game.
“He didn’t play great tonight,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “He played with a lot of spirit. I love him, still. I wish we could have won the game for him tonight. I really do.”
The Celtics lost for the fifth time in seven games and slid closer to the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, which would mean a likely first-round pairing with Miami. The Celtics have lost three straight, a skid that started with a loss to Miami when Boston let a 17-point lead slip away with a chance to end the Heat’s winning streak at 22.
Heat 103, Pistons 89
It’s becoming almost commonplace now, this trend of Miami getting off to slow starts and having to dig its way back from double-digit deficits.
Apparently, they do not mind.
LeBron James scored 29 points, Dwyane Wade added 19 and the Heat extended their winning streak to 25 games by pulling away in the second half and beating Detroit on Friday night.
Miami trailed by as much as 11 in the first half before moving within eight of tying the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers for the longest winning streak in NBA history. The Heat also won at home for the 16th straight time.
“We don’t get caught up in things like that, saying that we’re untouchable,” said James, who also finished with eight assists and eight rebounds. “We know we can be beat by anybody, any night, if we don’t come in with the mindset to play our game.”
Maybe they don’t always come in with that mindset in perfect order, but the Heat clearly find a way to get to that place. Just this week alone, they rallied from 17 points down to win at Boston, then pulled off the wild 27-point, second-half comeback to prevail at Cleveland.
No real dramatics were needed Friday, especially after Miami allowed only 35 points after halftime.
“We were a little flat in the first half,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But in the second half, the urgency was much better, created a lot more opportunities off of our defense. I liked the way we finished the game.”
Miami’s magic number for clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference is now three. The Heat also remained 1½ games up on San Antonio, which needed overtime to beat Utah, for the league’s best record.
Greg Monroe finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds for Detroit, which dropped its 10th straight game. Jose Calderon had 18 points and seven assists, most of that coming in the first half for the Pistons, who also got 18 points and eight rebounds from Kyle Singler.
For the fifth time in the last six games, the Heat trailed after the first quarter. Detroit made 12 of its first 18 shots — 67 percent — and took a 28-20 lead fueled by an 8-0 run late in the opening period.
Detroit’s lead went to 11 in the second quarter, with Calderon making all three of his field-goal attempts, all from 3-point range. He wound up with 16 points and six assists at halftime, just the second player to have a first-half stat line like that against the Heat this season. There were times it seemed Detroit was getting whatever it wanted.
Nonetheless, the Heat were down just 54-51 at the break.
Wizards 103, Lakers 100
Trevor Ariza hit a career-high seven 3-pointers on his way to 25 points, John Wall added 24 points and Washington rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to beat Los Angeles.
Wall had 16 assists, and Nene scored 15 points for the Wizards, who won their second straight while improving to 7-26 on the road.
Down 2 points, Kobe Bryant missed a short open jumper with 5 seconds to go and Metta World Peace fouled Wall, who made both free throws. After a timeout, Bryant's 3-pointer drew the Lakers to 101-100 with 2 seconds left. But Bryant fouled Wall with 1 second to go, and he again made both.
The Lakers got the ball to Bryant one last time, and he launched a 3-point attempt from the right sideline that missed as time expired.
Thunder 97, Magic 89
Kevin Durant scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, Russell Westbrook had 19 points and Oklahoma snapped a two-game skid by beating Orlando.
The Magic briefly took a one-point lead in the final period, but the Thunder hit eight of their final 10 free throws to help seal the victory.
Maurice Harkless scored 25 points and Jameer Nelson had 16 for Orlando, which lost its sixth straight.
Spurs 104, Jazz 97 (OT)
Tony Parker had 22 points in his return from an eight-game absence, Tim Duncan added 19 points and 16 rebounds and San Antonio sent Utah to its third straight loss.
Kawhi Leonard added 21 points, including five in overtime, and Danny Green had 15 points for San Antonio, which remains 2½ games ahead of Oklahoma City in the West.
Mo Williams scored 23 points, Al Jefferson had 18 and Alec Burks 14 for Utah.
Trail Blazers 104, Hawks 93
Wesley Matthews scored 28 points to lead three teammates with at least 20 points and Portland beat Atlanta for its second road win in as many nights.
Damian Lillard scored 22 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and 13 rebounds, giving him at least 20 points in seven straight games.
Josh Smith had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta, which completed a disappointing 1-2 homestand. Jeff Teague added 21 points and Al Horford had 15 points with 11 rebounds.
Pacers 102, Bucks 78
Tyler Hansbrough had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead Indiana to its third straight win.
Paul George added 20 points and had Roy Hibbert had 11 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks for the Pacers.
Monta Ellis had 22 points and Samuel Dalembert had 10 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Bucks, who have lost five of seven.
Rockets 116, Cavaliers 78
James Harden scored 20 points, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik added 13 apiece and Houston routed cold-shooting Cleveland.
Thomas Robinson scored 15 points and Greg Smith grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds off the bench for the Rockets, who stayed in the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference. Asik also grabbed 11 rebounds for Houston, which has won four of five games on its current homestand.
Shaun Livingston scored 14 points for the Cavaliers, who’ve dropped five in a row and nine of their last 11 games.
Hornets 90, Grizzlies 83
Robin Lopez had 23 points, including a key putback and a pair of free throws in the final 1:11, and New Orleans won its second straight.
Lopez also had 10 rebounds for New Orleans, Anthony Davis added 18 points and 15 boards, and Greivis Vasquez had 12 points and nine assists.
Mike Conley scored 20 points while nearly leading the Grizzlies back from a 16-point fourth-quarter hole. His consecutive 3s had Memphis within 83-81 with 2:36 left, but Vasquez answered with a big 3 and Lopez’s putback made it 88-81.
Marc Gasol had 16 points for the Grizzlies, while Zach Randolph added 14 and Jerryd Bayless 12.
Timberwolves 117, Suns 86
Andrei Kirilenko scored 20 points and Minnesota routed slumping Phoenix to snap a nine-game road losing streak.
Reserve Dante Cunningham added 18 points, Greg Stiemsma had 14 and four others were in double digits for the Timberwolves, who won for the fourth time in 16 games.
Minnesota set season highs for total points, first-half points (67) and second-quarter points (35) in snapping a 13-game road losing streak against Western Conference opponents.
Luis Scola had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Goran Dragic added 13 points and 10 assists for the Suns, who have lost six of seven and eight of their past 10.
Phoenix’s last three losses have come by an average of 21 points.