Knicks 101, Cavaliers 91
For once, the most important number on Carmelo Anthony's stat line was his minutes.
Anthony continued a push to win his first NBA scoring title with 31 points and 14 rebounds in just 30 minutes, and New York bounced back after having its winning streak stopped at 13 games one night earlier by beating Cleveland on Friday.
Anthony's streak of scoring at least 35 points ended at six games as New York coach Mike Woodson chose to rest the All-Star forward the entire fourth quarter as the Knicks prepare for the playoffs.
J.R. Smith also scored 31 — 13 in the fourth while Anthony watched — for New York, which is trying to hold off Indiana for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Knicks have a three-game lead over the Pacers with three games remaining for both teams, heading into their matchup Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Anthony was more than happy to share the scoring load — and spotlight — with Smith, who made his final 12 shots and finished 13 of 16 from the field.
"J.R. was spectacular," Anthony said. "I needed him to do that. He gave me a chance to sit down."
Kyrie Irving scored 31 for the Cavs, who are 4-17 since March 1. Irving attempted a career-high 27 shots, but couldn't keep pace with Anthony and Smith.
"You've got two guys who are very special," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "That's what that team does — they make shots."
Anthony came in as the league's scoring leader, averaging 28.7 points per game and he did what he needed to keep the pressure on Kevin Durant (28.3) as they battle for the scoring title with just a few days left in the season. Anthony scored 14 in the third quarter, helping the Knicks open an 11-point lead entering the fourth.
Woodson felt comfortable enough with the lead to sit Anthony. So Smith took over, dropping a variety of jumpers much to the amusement of Anthony who stood and cheered his teammate from the bench.
"I just got into a rhythm," Smith said. "I knew Carmelo was pretty much done (playing), so I wanted to put the game away so everybody could get some rest.
New York was determined to erase the taste of Thursday's 118-111 overtime loss in Chicago, the Knicks first since March 17. They want to build some momentum heading to the postseason and Anthony and Smith made sure of it, combining for 62 points and 19 rebounds. They even added a combined three assists, not bad considering it's rare either gives up the ball for anyone.
Woodson was hoping he would be able to rest Anthony and Smith, and with some help from the other Knicks, he got his wish.
"Nobody wanted to play big minutes, especially our two big guys (Anthony and Smith), so everything worked out great," Woodson said. "I was a little worried how we'd come out after last night, but we came out with energy and sustained it throughout the game."
The Knicks only had 10 players in uniform as they push toward the close of the regular season missing some key parts.
All-Star center Tyson Chandler (bulging disc), forwards Amare Stoudemire (knee surgery), Kenyon Martin (sprained ankle), Marcus Camby (plantar fasciitis) and Rasheed Wallace (broken foot) are all out.
Chandler and Martin are expected to return for the playoffs when the Atlantic Division champions will try to win a series for the first time since 2000.
Nets 117, Pacers 109
Deron Williams had 33 points and 14 assists, and Brooklyn secured home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson each had 24 points for the Nets (47-32), who have won four of their last five games.
David West had 26 points and nine rebounds, and Paul George had 21 for the Pacers (49-30), who have lost three of four.
The Nets are guaranteed the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and pulled within two games of the Pacers for No. 3.
Heat 109, Celtics 101
LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade had not played together in a couple of weeks, so Miami needed some time to get back into rhythm.
About 12 minutes, to be precise.
The Heat scored 41 points in the second quarter — their highest-scoring period of the season — to erase what was an early 13-point deficit, and went on to beat he Boston.
"Felt good to get back in the lineup with the other 'Big Two,'" James said. "It's great. We're just trying to get some more continuity, get our legs up under us."
James had 20 points and nine assists in 29 minutes, and Rashard Lewis added 19 to lead a huge night for the Miami bench, which outscored Boston's reserves 52-14.
Bosh and Ray Allen each scored 17 for Miami, which got 12 from Norris Cole.
Wade, back after missing six games with bone bruises around his right kneecap, scored 11 points in 34 minutes for Miami.
Miami has three games left, two at home, and already has clinched home-court advantage for the entirety of the NBA playoffs. It played Friday without Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem.
Jeff Green scored 25 for Boston, which played without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, both out with ankle soreness. Celtics coach Doc Rivers expects both Pierce and Garnett to play today in Orlando.
"Orlando is a team that, obviously, you see them. I don't want to give them any fuel, but they're terrible," Celtics guard Jason Terry said. "So we must go in there with whoever we have and scrap for the win."
Jordan Crawford added 20, Courtney Lee scored 18 and Brandon Bass had 17 for Boston.
The Celtics need one more win to wrap up the No. 7 spot in the East, which would lock Milwaukee into the No. 8 seed and a first-round matchup with Miami.
"I thought their subs beat our subs if you want to just simplify it," Rivers said.
The Celtics came out flying early, running out to a 10-point lead after the opening quarter and extending that lead to 30-17 when Lee opened the second with a 3-pointer.
After that, it was largely all Miami.
The Heat shot 16 of 19 from the field in the second quarter — their best shooting in any quarter since 2007, and the NBA's third-best, single-quarter effort this season — on the way to turning around the game. Miami's bench shot 8 of 9 in the quarter, scoring 22 points, one less than Boston's entire roster in the period.
Miami held massive edges in both rebounding (9-2) and assists (12-3) in the quarter, and when Wade beat the buzzer with a layup Miami went into the break with a 58-50 lead.
Lakers 118, Warriors 116
Kobe Bryant scored 34 points while playing much of the second half in obvious pain with an injured left leg, and Los Angeles rallied in the final minutes without him to stay in the playoff picture with a victory over Golden State.
Immediately after the game, the Lakers announced Bryant probably had a torn tendon. He will have an MRI exam Saturday, but Bryant knows the injury is likely to end his season.
The fifth-leading scorer in NBA history stayed in the game until 3:06 remained despite obvious mobility limitations and two lengthy breaks to walk off an injury from early in the second half. Bryant apparently hyperextended his knee before tearing his tendon later in the half.
Stephen Curry scored 47 points in a dynamic performance for the Warriors, but Los Angeles played just enough late defense to hang on for a crucial win.
Jazz 107, Timberwolves 100
Al Jefferson tied a career high with 40 points, including a clutch jumper with 39 seconds left, to power Utah past Minnesota.
The victory kept the pressure on the Los Angeles Lakers in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
Jefferson scored 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the third to turn a seven-point deficit into an 82-81 lead entering the fourth. His 14-footer as the shock clock expired gave Utah a 101-98 lead with 39 seconds remaining.
J.J. Barea scored a season-high 23 points off the bench for Minnesota (29-50).
Hawks 109, Bucks 104
Jeff Teague and Josh Smith each scored 24 points and Atlanta used a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter to take the lead after trailing by 19 early in the second half and beat Milwaukee.
Atlanta moved a half-game ahead of Chicago for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
Monta Ellis led Milwaukee with 27 points and 17 assists, and Ersan Ilyasova scored 25 points while shooting 6 for 8 on 3-pointers.
Devin Harris scored 19 points for Atlanta.
Spurs 108, Kings 101
Tony Parker had 22 points and 10 assists, and San Antonio on a day it lost two key players.
Tim Duncan added 18 points, Kawhi Leonard had 15 points and Tiago Splitter and Danny Green had 12 apiece as seven players scored in double figures for San Antonio (58-21).
DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Jason Thompson added 18 points, Toney Douglas had 15 and Jimmer Fredette had 14 for Sacramento, which lost its sixth straight to San Antonio.
The Spurs waived forward Stephen Jackson on Friday afternoon, ending his second stint with the team. Hours earlier, the Spurs lost reserve forward Boris Diaw, who will miss three to four weeks after having surgery Friday to have a synovial cyst removed from his lumbar spine.
Grizzlies 82, Rockets 78
Marc Gasol had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Memphis snapped a 13-game losing streak in Houston.
Zach Randolph scored 15 points and Jerryd Bayless had 13 for the Grizzlies, who won in Houston for the first time since April 2006.
James Harden scored 30 points, but missed a potential game-tying jumper from near the top of the key just before the buzzer.
Memphis has won seven of eight games, while the Rockets lost for the third time in 11 home games.
Raptors 97, Bulls 88
Amir Johnson had 24 points and nine rebounds, Rudy Gay scored 23 points and Toronto earned its second straight win over Chicago.
Kyle Lowry had 13 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, and DeMar DeRozan scored 19 points for the Raptors, who were coming off a 101-98 win in Chicago on Tuesday night. Quincy Acy had 10 points and nine rebounds as Toronto won for the fourth time in five games.
Chicago's Carlos Boozer fouled out with 19 points and 12 rebounds in 31 minutes, his 11th double-double in the past 13 games.
Nate Robinson scored 17 points, Nazr Mohammed had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Luol Deng added 10 points as the Bulls lost for the third time in four games and lost any hope of earning home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Clippers 96, Hornets 93
Blake Griffin scored 20 points, Chris Paul made clutch plays on both ends of the floor in the final minute, and Los Angeles overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat New Orleans.
Matt Barnes scored 16 points, scoring three times during a critical stretch for the Clippers, who would have seen their hopes of remaining a top-four playoff seed in the Western Conference take a hit with a loss. Instead, the Clippers won their fourth straight in large part thanks to Paul, who had 14 assists and finished with 17 points — including eight in the final minute on a pull-up jumper and six free throws.
Eric Gordon scored 25 points for New Orleans, which has lost three straight.
76ers 97, Wizards 86
Jrue Holiday scored 22 points, and Philadelphia found enough motivation to put Washington's pursuit of ninth place to rest for good.
Thaddeus Young added 18 points and 13 points for the 76ers, who had played a pair of stinkers since being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but handled the Wizards, who had made catching Philadelphia a very public goal to make up for a 4-28 start.
John Wall scored 24 points for the Wizards, who have lost four straight and trail the 76ers by 3½ games with two to play in the race — if it can really be called that — for top non-playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
Pistons 113, Bobcats 93
Jonas Jerebko scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half, and Detroit routed Charlotte behind terrific outside shooting.
Detroit went 12 of 18 from 3-point range, with Brandon Knight making all three of his attempts. Knight scored 19 points. Kemba Walker scored 24 in the first half for the Bobcats but finished with only 28.
Will Bynum had 15 points and 10 assists for Detroit. Rookie Andre Drummond had 15 points and nine rebounds but appeared to hurt his right ankle late in the game.
Detroit has won three in a row for only the second time all season. The Pistons had a four-game winning streak snapped by Charlotte in January.
Mavericks 108, Nuggets 105 (OT)
Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points, O.J. Mayo hit tiebreaking 3-pointers late in regulation and overtime, and Dallas denied Denver a franchise record in wins.
Mayo's shot in regulation could have won the game, but his turnover in the final seconds led to a tying layup by Corey Brewer.
Mayo put Dallas ahead 104-101, and the Mavericks held on in a frantic final minute of overtime to deny the Nuggets their 55th win.
Mayo finished with 20, while Vince Carter had 22 points and 12 rebounds.
Wilson Chandler and Andre Iguodala joined Brewer with 18 for the Nuggets, and Kenneth Faried had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Thunder 106, Trail Blazers 90
Russell Westbrook scored 33 points, including 17 in the third quarter, and Oklahoma City beat short-handed Portland.
Earlier in the evening, the Thunder clinched their third straight Northwest Division title when Dallas defeated Denver 108-105 in overtime. Oklahoma City also remained a half-game up on San Antonio for the top seed in the Western Conference.
Kevin Durant added 16 points for the Thunder, who led by as many as 22 points.
Portland, missing the playoffs for the second straight season, lost its 10th straight, the most since an 11-game skid in the 2005-06 season. The Blazers were led by Will Barton — starting in place of injured shooting guard Wesley Matthews — with 18 points.
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