Six of the top nine teams in the west took the floor on Saturday night and despite being so tightly packed together, no spots in the standings changed. The second to last night Sunday of the regular season begins early with a big game at the top and bottom of the playoff picture when Houston travels to Oklahoma City for a noon tilt on ABC.
Last night: Wizards 92, Grizzlies 83; Warriors 123, Mavericks 110; Clippers 107, Nuggets 92, Blazers 99, Pelicans 90
The Grizzlies stranglehold on the southwest division crown has long since gone away, while they still can recover, they look like they have a real possibility to fall much further down than just third. They scored the first two points of the game, then John Wall hit a 3-pointer 18 seconds later and the Grizzlies never got the lead back. Memphis was just 1-of-15 on 3-pointers and they have split their last 22 games (11-11). Stated another way, Memphis lost only 14 times in their first 55 games, but have now lost 11 of their last 22.
The Warriors welcomed Draymond Green (shin) back to the starting lineup, and it was business as usual for the Warriors, who used 11 players, but none for more 30 minutes. Steph Curry’s stat line was unremarkable with just 11 points (4-12 FG), four rebounds and three assists. But for the 17th time this season, he didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter and the Warriors, who now have 63 wins, moved to 7-0, when Curry scores 13 points or less. Mavericks guard Rajon Rondo went to the locker room early in the third quarter with a new injury and did not return. It was reported as a hyperextended knee and his availability for their next game Wednesday against Phoenix is not known. Dallas also played without forward Chandler Parsons (knee), who is listed as day-to-day.
The Nuggets continue doing their part of offer little resistance against playoff teams, losing their fifth straight to a western conference playoff team, all but one by ten points or more. It was 13-0 Clippers to start the game and the lead never dipped to single digits the rest of the night. All but one of their five remaining games will be at Staples Center and they are hopeful that Jamal Crawford will return for the final four games of the season, beginning Tuesday. He’s missed the Clippers last 16 games with a calf injury.
The Blazers finally pulled away from the Pelicans in the fourth quarter with a key 18-4 run that turned a four-point deficit into a 10-point lead with just over two minutes remaining. The Blazers got a strong performance off the bench from Chris Kaman, who scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds as the Blazers dominated the glass with a 51-35 rebound advantage.
Tonight: Rockets at Thunder; Warriors at Spurs; Clippers at Lakers
Houston goes for the three-game season sweep of a reeling Thunder team. Oklahoma City has lost four of five and remains just one game ahead of the Pelicans for the final playoff spot. The Rockets won in Oklahoma City earlier this season in one of the ugliest games of the season, 69-65. While the Thunder lost their last home game (135-131 to Dallas), they have won 22 of their last 25 games at home. Their defense has been one of the worst in the league since the all-star break. Twice in their last five games, they’ve allowed over 130 points and five times in their last ten games, they’ve allowed 115 or more points.
Golden State makes it only regular season stop in San Antonio, after the two teams split a pair games in California. The Warriors have lost only five games all season (46-5) with their starting five of Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut, but one of them was to the Spurs back in November.
The battle for Los Angeles supremacy is not on the line at Staples Center since the Clippers are going for their 52nd win, while the Lakers have only 20 triumphs this season. The teams will play again on Tuesday with the Clippers trying to win the season series from the Lakers for just the fifth time ever, but the third season in a row. The Clippers won the first two meetings.
Here’s the look at the standings and the remaining schedule. Click the graphic to enlarge.
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NBA Gif of the Night – Livingston going for the ball(s).
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