Bulls 96, Heat 86 (OT): Neither team looked like a playoff title contender, but this win moves the Bulls four games up on the Heat and pretty much cements them in as the top seed in the East. Our own Brett Pollakoff broke this game down for us.
Spurs 107, Grizzlies 97: Remember that whole thing we said after the Spurs loss to the Lakers about San Antonio not being able to handle big front lines? Maybe we shouldn’t go too far down that road yet. San Antonio took charge in the third quarter behind Tim Duncan (who scored 14 of his 28 points in the third) and Manu Ginobili. Duncan was on fire and the Spurs started running isolation plays to set him up against Marc Gasol, and it worked. The Grizzlies made an 11-0 run in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough.
Clippers 95, Timberwolves 82: No Kevin Love (concussion), no Ricky Rubio, no Luke Ridnour, and yet the Timberwolves led for much of the first half. But the Clippers opened the second half on a 19-5 run and pulled away for an easy win (and one they need in the race between them and the Lakers to avoid Memphis in the first round). Blake Griffin was attacking the rim (19 points, 13 rebounds) while Randy Foye and Caron Butler were knocking down threes. Nikola Pekovic led the Timberwolves with 17 points.
Pistons 109, Bobcats 85: Charlotte has lost three games at home in a row by more than 20 points. They are just terrible, particularly on defense. Greg Monroe scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Pistons.
Mavericks 112, Warriors 103: Big win for Dallas as this gives them a little cushion in the playoff race. Dallas seemed to be running away with this and Dirk Nowitzki was knocking down everything (he finished with 27 points). But with a run at the end of the third into the fourth, the Warriors cut it to three and tried to make a game of it, but the Mavericks bench led by Brandan Wright (16 points).
Jose Calderon, Andrew Bogut, Brandon Jennings all officially waived; contenders line up for their services
They have to clear waivers (Wednesday) before they can sign with a new team. However, all three seem to be headed to teams with dreams of going deep into the playoffs.
The Golden State Warriors want a little depth at the point for the postseason, and they are going with the steady but aged veteran Calderon. He will have limited run behind Stephen Curry and Shaun Livingston, but he will have a role in the playoffs and as a steadying force.
The Washington Wizards are going another, more talented but more combustible direction, and appear the frontrunners to sign Brandon Jennings (Chris Haynes of ESPN had that link. . The Wizards have not loved the play of Trey Burke this season and have leaned on Tomas Satoransky to run some point, expect Jennings to get some healthy run if and when he arrives in Washington.
Bogut is expected to sign with the Cavaliers, although the Spurs could have a shot at him and other teams are asking to get in the mix (not his former team the Warriors, however).
NBA: Bulls beat Suns after two key missed calls late in fourth quarter
The collective ‘we’ were happy the Bulls reached overtime against the Suns on Friday, because we saw Dwyane Wade‘s fantastic dagger dunk.
The Bulls were happy they reached overtime, because they won the game in the extra period.
But with correct officiating down the stretch, Phoenix probably would have won in regulation.
The Bulls got away with two key violations late in the fourth quarter, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.
First, Jimmy Butler got away with traveling with 1:58 left, per the league:
Butler (CHI) move his pivot foot.
Instead of a Chicago turnover, Butler kicked the ball to Nikola Mirotic, who hit a 3-pointer.
Then, Denzel Valentine got away with a defensive three-second violation with a minute left, per the league:
Valentine (CHI) is in the paint without actively guarding an opponent for longer than three seconds.
A correct call would’ve given any Sun on the court — either Eric Bledsoe (who’s making 85% of his free throws this season and 80% for his career) or Devin Booker (82%, 83%) — a single free throw and Phoenix a fresh shot clock.
Instead, the Suns — facing a tougher road penetrating the paint — turned the ball over.
On their own, those missed calls were each big swings. Together, they were huge in Chicago’s win.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets have waived veteran forward Luis Scola.
Scola averaged 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 36 games this season, falling out of the rotation as the league-worst Nets focused more on their younger players, even though the Celtics hold swap rights on Brooklyn’s first-round pick.
General manager Sean Marks said Monday the Nets felt that Scola “deserved the opportunity to contribute to a playoff contender.” Because he was waived by the March 1 deadline, Scola would be eligible to sign with another team and appear on its playoff roster.
Scola has averaged 12 points while playing for five teams in his 10 NBA seasons, and won an Olympic gold medal with Argentina in 2004.
Raptors’ Kyle Lowry undergoing surgery, aims to return for playoffs
Lowry is the Raptors best player, and answering his call, they upgraded around him by trading for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker. Now Lowry isn’t around to lead the charge.
Maybe I’m reading too much into the wording, but merely aiming to return for the playoffs is hardly convincing. Does that mean there’s a chance he could miss the postseason?
That’d be a disaster for Toronto, which has put eggs in the basket for this season, Lowry’s last before unrestricted free agency.
Even if Lowry misses “only” several weeks and returns fully healthy for the playoffs, this harms the Raptors majorly. They’re fourth in the East, but barely behind the third-place Wizards and a chance to avoid the Cavaliers until the conference finals.
This is welcome news to Washington and the Celtics, who might be underdogs in the second round to Toronto’s souped-up roster. Now, it seems increasingly likely Cleveland would face the Raptors in the second round — if they get that far.
Cory Joseph is a fine backup, and Delon Wright offers intrigue as a third point guard. Pressing both up a level just invites problems.
Toronto’s trades positioned the Raptors to rise down the stretch. Now, they’ll just try to hold their ground.