Celtics 118, Hawks 107
Boston, which has already had its share of key injuries, had a quick scare seconds into the second half when Paul Pierce fell to the floor hard and was down for a bit before limping to the bench.
After a timeout, the 35-year old captain shook off the slight injury to his left leg, headed back onto the court and went back to work on his third triple-double of the season.
Pierce had 20 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, and Jeff Green scored 27 points to carry the Celtics to a win over Atlanta on Friday night.
Pierce was just glad others stepped up, too.
"Well, we need it," he said. "It has to come from everybody. Like I said, due to the injuries, guys are getting opportunities."
Boston coach Doc Rivers knew Pierce was upset over a seven-turnover night in a victory at Cleveland on Wednesday.
"He's just so smart. He's never in a rush," Rivers said. "We just told him to, 'Be an aggressive scorer. Your instincts will have you pass.'"
Jason Terry was 5 of 7 on 3-pointers and finished with 24 points for Boston, which won its second straight following a five-game losing streak. Brandon Bass scored 13 and Shavlik Randolph grabbed a career-best 13 rebounds with nine points.
"Paul just gets everybody involved," guard Avery Bradley said. "I love playing with him. He just wants to win."
Josh Smith led the Hawks with 18 points but shot just 7 of 23 from the floor and 0 for 6 in the second half. Mike Scott scored 19 and Jeff Teague added 17 points and seven assists.
"Paul Pierce is going to score on anybody. He's been doing it for a long time," Teague said. "Jason Terry and those guys making shots, they're tough to beat."
The Celtics, who closed to 1 ½ games behind the Hawks for the Eastern Conference's sixth playoff spot, won the season series 3-1.
The Hawks sliced an 11-point deficit to 100-94, but Bass nailed a baseline jumper and Terry followed with a 3 from the top of the key after a wild scramble for a loose ball that had it slip through the hands of at least four players. Green then nailed a jumper, making it 107-94 with 5:08 left.
The Hawks never threatened the rest of the way.
Knicks 111, Bobcats 102
J.R. Smith hasn't had a run like this since high school.
No NBA reserve has in more than two decades.
Smith scored 37 points, his third consecutive 30-point outing, and New York beat Charlotte for its season-high seventh straight victory.
"He is focused. He is dialed in. Locked in," Carmelo Anthony said. "He is playing extremely well and his confidence is sky high. We are following his lead."
Anthony had 32 points and Raymond Felton added 18 for the Knicks, who have the longest current streak in the NBA. They built a 30-point lead that was reduced to single digits for the second game in a row.
Gerald Henderson tied a career high with 35 points for the Bobcats. Kemba Walker added 16, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 14 and Ben Gordon finished with 12.
Smith had 23 points at halftime, shooting 9 of 11 from the field. He is the first player with three straight 30-point games as a reserve since Ricky Pierce in 1990.
"Last run I was on like this was in high school and that was too easy," Smith said. "But, I got a great cast with Melo and Ray. We have so many threats out there. It's hard to honor each person every game. So depending on who's got it going, it just so happens it's my turn."
The Knicks held their biggest lead of the game at 58-28 when Smith hit a 3-pointer with 5:24 left in the first half. The Bobcats then went on a 19-9 run to pull within 20 before Anthony's two free throws gave the Knicks a 69-47 halftime lead.
After shooting 62.5 percent (25 of 40) from the field and 75 percent (9 of 12) from 3-point range in the first half, the Knicks went cold in the third quarter, going 5 of 18 from the field and missing all four shots behind the arc.
The Bobcats took advantage and pulled within 83-69 on Jeffery Taylor's free throws with 39 seconds left in the quarter.
However, Felton's layup and three free throws by Smith gave the Knicks an 88-69 lead after three quarters.
Heat 108, Hornets 89
LeBron James scored 36 points, hitting six consecutive 3-pointers in less than six minutes during the first half, and Miami Heat from its first loss in nearly two months.
The Heat, whose 27-game winning streak ended in Chicago on Wednesday, looked ready to start a new one while clinching the top seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs. James kept shooting 3-pointers after making his first one with 1:55 left in the first quarter, and he did not miss until he already had set a season high with his sixth.
James finished with seven 3s, one shy of his career high. Dwyane Wade added 17 points and seven assists. Norris Cole scored 12 points and Chris Bosh 10.
Raptors 99, Pistons 82
DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay scored 21 points apiece and Toronto ended a five-game skid by extending Detroit's home losing streak to eight games.
The Raptors led 46-45 at the break and took control by outscoring Detroit 23-5 in the first eight minutes of the third period. Gay, who had just two points at halftime, scored 19 points during the third.
Amir Johnson added 20 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Jonas Jerebko scored 20 points to lead the Pistons, who also got 17 from rookie Andre Drummond.
Spurs 104, Clippers 102
Tim Duncan had a season-high 34 points, including a game-winning three-point play with 2.2 seconds left, and San Antonio won its seventh straight game at home.
Duncan also had 11 rebounds for San Antonio (55-17), Tony Parker added 24 points and eight assists, and Tiago Splitter had 14 points.
Blake Griffin had 18 points, Jamal Crawford added 16, Chris Paul had 14, Caron Butler 11 and Willie Green had 10 for Los Angeles.
The Spurs extended their lead in the Western Conference to 2½ games over Oklahoma City, which lost 101-93 to Minnesota.
Timberwolves 101, Thunder 93
Nikola Pekovic had 22 points and 15 rebounds and Ricky Rubio added 17 points and seven assists to help Minnesota stun Oklahoma City.
Chase Budinger scored 13 points off the bench and Andrei Kirilenko played superb defense on Thunder star Kevin Durant in the second half to help the Wolves deal the Thunder an unexpected setback in their pursuit of the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Durant had 36 points and seven rebounds, but was just 4 for 9 in the final 22 minutes. Russell Westbrook added 18 points and nine assists for the Thunder.
Nuggets 109, Nets 87
Rookie Evan Fournier scored a season-high 19 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and Denver extended its home winning streak to 18 games.
Denver improved to 33-3 at the Pepsi Center this season, the best home record in the league.
Wilson Chandler had 16 points and Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufos added 13 points apiece for the Nuggets, who are one win shy of matching their longest home winning streak since Jan. 28-April 20, 1989, despite missing injured point guard Ty Lawson. He was ruled out for the third time in four games after an exam Thursday of his strained heel also revealed a plantar fascia tear in his right foot.
Deron Williams scored 19 points for the Nets, who missed a chance for their team-record 21st road win of the season. It was the Nets' sixth consecutive loss to the Nuggets in Denver.
Jazz 105, Trail Blazers 95
Mo Williams scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half, and Utah rallied with a 19-3 run in the final minutes to beat Portland and draw even with the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Paul Millsap added 25 points and 10 rebounds as the Jazz (37-36) snapped a nine-game losing streak on the road, their longest since dropping 17 straight in the 1981-82 season.
The Blazers (33-39) dropped 3½ games back with their third straight loss.
Portland, playing without forward LaMarcus Aldridge because of a sprained right ankle, got 24 points from rookie Damian Lillard. J.J. Hickson added 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Grizzlies 103, Rockets 94
Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol scored 21 points apiece and Memphis snapped a two-game losing streak.
Randolph added 12 rebounds, Tony Allen scored 16 points, connecting on 8 of 12 shots, and Mike Conley finished with 15 points and 10 assists.
Allen also had a strong defensive effort in limiting the Rockets' James Harden to seven points on 3-of-9 shooting. Harden came into the game fifth in the league in scoring with a 26.2 average.
Chandler Parsons and Donatas Motiejunas led the Rockets with 16 points apiece, despite not playing in the fourth quarter as Houston coach Kevin McHale used his reserves to try to put more pressure on the Grizzlies defensively. Carlos Delfino had 15 points for Houston, while James Anderson scored 10.
Magic 97, Wizards 92
Tobias Harris had 30 points and 11 rebounds to help the Orlando Magic break an eight-game losing streak.
Maurice Harkless added 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while reserves E'Twaun Moore and Andrew Nicholson scored 15 and 14, respectively, for Orlando.
John Wall led the Wizards with 35 points, nine rebounds and two assists. Martell Webster was the only other Wizard in double figures, scoring 19.
Harris had the key basket, a 15-foot floater that gave the Magic a 93-88 lead with 1:22 left in the game.
Wall made two free throws to get the Wizards within 93-90, but after the Magic missed Wall couldn't convert at the other end and the Magic sealed the win from the free throw line.
76ers 97, Cavaliers 87
Evan Turner scored 23 points and Philadelphia sent Cleveland to its season-high seventh straight loss.
Jrue Holiday had 20 points and Thaddeus Young added 18 for the Sixers, who are 2-16 on the road since Jan. 2. Philadelphia used a 20-2 run that began late in the second quarter and extended into the third to take control of the game. Turner, who had three points at halftime, scored 13 in the first seven minutes of the third quarter.
C.J. Miles scored 19 points for Cleveland, which had lost six in a row on two previous occasions. The Cavaliers played again without their starting backcourt of Kyrie Irving (bruised shoulder) and Dion Waiters (sore knee).
Bryant listed probable with bone spur
Kobe Bryant is likely to play for Los Angeles tonight against Sacramento despite a bone spur in his left foot.
The Lakers listed Bryant as probable on Friday.
The fifth-leading scorer in NBA history left the Bradley Center using a crutch Thursday following Los Angeles' 113-103 loss to Milwaukee. Bryant has been bothered by the bone spur for several games, and he got treatment on the injury in Sacramento on Friday.
Bryant's injury apparently isn't related to his sprained left ankle, which occurred earlier in Atlanta.
Lakers guard Steve Nash is listed as questionable for Saturday's game with discomfort in his right hip and hamstrings. The two-time MVP point guard got hurt Monday at Golden State.
Los Angeles (37-36) has lost four of five.
Pat Riley to Danny Ainge: Shut up
Miami president Pat Riley has added another chapter to his rivalry with Boston.
After LeBron James complained about calls and Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge chided him for it, Riley lashed back Friday night.
Riley's response: "Danny Ainge needs to shut the (expletive) up and manage his own team."
This saga started Wednesday after Miami's 27-game winning streak ended in Chicago. James told reporters that night that he does not believe some of the hard fouls he takes are "basketball plays." A day later, Ainge told Boston radio station WEEI that "it's almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating."
Riley was clearly irked, calling Ainge "the biggest whiner going when he was a player."
The Heat and Celtics play April 12 in Miami.
Miami beat New Orleans Friday night, with James leading the way with 36 points. When informed afterward of the statement, James said he appreciated Riley having his back.
"That's who we are," James said. "We ride together, all of us, from the top to the bottom. We all protect each other on and off the floor and it was big-time to see that."
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