We talked about the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West between the Jazz and the Lakers earlier today, but the Mavericks are likely to be in the conversation through the end of the regular season, as well.
Dallas has finally gotten Dirk Nowitzki back healthy, and has now won 11 of its last 16 games after a thrilling 100-98 comeback win over the Bulls on Saturday afternoon.
Chicago held a lead of 97-85 with 4:08 remaining, but the Mavericks closed the game on a 15-1 run, capped off by Dirk’s three-pointer (seen in the video clip above) with two seconds left that gave his team the victory.
Nowitzki finished with 35 points on 14-17 shooting, including 5-6 from three-point distance. Vince Carter chipped in 17, as did reserve big man Brandan Wright, who feasted inside thanks to Joakim Noah once again being forced to sit out due to injury.
The win puts Dallas just a game back of both Utah and L.A. for that last playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Jazz own the tie-breaker over both the Lakers and Mavericks, so Dallas would need to make up two games in the standings on Utah over its last nine games to overtake them in the standings.
Dallas is 1-2 against the Lakers this season, but faces them in Los Angeles on April 2 in a game that is huge for the Mavericks’ postseason chances. Should Dallas tie the season series with a victory, the next tiebreaker is won-loss record in the conference, which could very possibly come down to the final game of the regular season.
Dwight Howard posts just second 30-30 game in last 36 years
Elvin Hayes (Capital Bullets, 11/17/1973): 43 points, 32 rebounds
Howard helped Charlotte erase a 23-point second-half deficit and a 10-point deficit with four minutes left. The Hornets are playing out a lost season, and Brooklyn has looked overmatched most of the year, particularly at center. But no matter the situation, Howard says he still feels super-sized expectations.
Tonight, he exceeded them by leaps and bounds.
Giannis Antetokounmpo leaves Bucks’ loss to Clippers with ankle injury (video)
More importantly, Milwaukee lost Antetokounmpo to an ankle injury.
He limped off in the second quarter and didn’t return. The Bucks called it a sprain.
Any more time Antetokounmpo misses would be a huge loss. Hopefully, he recovers quickly.
No matter how many other good players – Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe – Milwaukee has put on the floor, the team has struggled without its star. Antetokounmpo is a commanding force offensively who just does so much, and his defense impresses.
The Bucks (37-34) are eighth in the East. They’re safely in playoff position, five games ahead of the ninth-place Pistons. But this hurts Milwaukee’s chances of avoiding a first-round matchup with the excellent Raptors – though the way Toronto has regressed in the playoffs in previous years, that might not be so bad. Still, the Bucks should probably chase the seventh-place Heat, who are up 1.5 games on Milwaukee, and a likely first-round matchup with the injury-ravaged Celtics.
Obviously, a healthy Antetokounmpo would be central to that pursuit.
Cavaliers beat Raptors, become first team in 27 years to surrender 79 first-half points and win
The Cavaliers haven’t been good enough throughout the season, especially defensively. The Raptors have – offensively, defensively, starters, bench. Hope has grown in Toronto of winning the Eastern Conference after getting eliminated by Cleveland the last two years.
But LeBron James and Cavs showed why it’s hard to pick any other team – even the first-place Raptors – to win the East in a 132-129 win over Toronto tonight.
Cleveland allowed 79 first-half points and fell behind by 15. But a LeBron-led offense was just too potent. This was the first time since 1990 (Nuggets over Spurs after trailing 90-83) a team surrendered so many first-half points then still won.
LeBron finished with 35 points, 17 assists and no turnovers. No forward has ever dished so many assists without a turnover in Basketball-Reference’s database, which dates back to 1963-64.
It’s only one game, and it was in Cleveland. But even with home-court advantage in a potential playoff series, the Raptors must grapple with even more lingering doubt now about their ability to beat the Cavs.
Report: Becky Hammon staying with Spurs, not coaching Colorado State men’s team
It’s unclear whether Hammon was ever actually offered the job.
She’s still on the right track for a head-coaching job somewhere. Most importantly, by all accounts, she’s doing good work in San Antonio. There’s also more attention on her career because of her pioneering status, and that will appeal to some teams.
This dalliance with Colorado State raises her profile even further and shows just how close she is.