The Spurs tied an NBA record with the most consecutive wins by 12 points or more as the topped the Rockets with a second-half onslaught. The 2008-09 Cavaliers did it, then lost in the eastern conference finals to Dwight Howard’s Magic. The 2011-12 Heat did it, then won the NBA championship.
Last night: Grizzlies 110, Pelicans 76; Spurs 110, Rockets 98; Mavericks 107, Suns 104; Blazers 116, Timberwolves 91
Six of the nine teams in the playoff mix were on the floor on Wednesday night. Only one of the games though remained close in the fourth quarter. The Mavericks got a huge night from Tyson Chandler, who had 23 rebounds, and a big shot from Dirk Nowitzki late to push back the Suns. The win clinches the 7th seed for the Mavericks, while the loss eliminated the Suns from the playoff chase.
The game of the night was expected to be in San Antonio, where the blazing hot Spurs hosted the Rockets. It was pretty good for the first 24 minutes, but right at the end of the second quarter, there was a glimpse of what was to come. Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer with 5:38 remaining in the first half to give the Rockets an eight-point lead. The Spurs called timeout. The Spurs took just two minutes to tie the game with an 8-0 run, then finished the half with a four-point lead.
They opened the third quarter and added to that 16-4 run and essentially ended the game. Less than 10 minutes later, they had a 15-point cushion as the Rockets managed to hit just three of their first 12 shots of the second half. The lead for the Spurs did not dip below 12 the rest of the game.
The good news for Houston is Dwight Howard continues to have a huge impact on the game, albeit in limited minutes. He had 16 points and 11 rebounds in his 22 minutes of work and has pushed his per 36 minute averages to 24.2 points and 14.4 rebounds in his six games since his return. He’s also shooting 66 percent from the field.
The bad news is they no longer control their destiny for the division crown and the number two seed. More explanation below.
The Grizzlies were in control of their game from start to finish against the Pelicans. New Orleans shot just 35 percent and Anthony Davis was held in check, with just 12 points and five rebounds. The Pelicans still control their own destiny, but their remaining schedule, as mentioned several times the last several weeks, is brutal. While the Thunder’s is much more manageable, see below.
LaMarcus Aldridge returned for the Blazers and they blew out the Timberwolves. The Blazers still have a very remote chance of moving up to the three or two seed, but are almost locked in at number four.
Tonight: Blazers at Warriors
In what cold be a second round playoff preview, although nobody is predicting that, neither team really had anything to play for. The Warriors have home court advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Blazers are almost locked in to the number four seed, with only a small chance of finishing the season with a better record than the the five seed. They must finish with a better record than the five seed or they will not have homecourt advantage in the first round.
Here’s the look at the west standings and the remaining schedule. Click the graphic to enlarge.
Click here for tiebreaking procedures
With just one week of games left, it’s time for a brief discussion on finishing scenarios. Friday night will be a huge night to help crystallize what each team needs to do to claim the best possible seed. On Wednesday night, the Grizzlies earned the tiebreaker over Houston since the Rockets can no longer have a better division record than Memphis and the Grizzlies will have a better conference record if the two teams are tied at the end of the season. If the Spurs beat Houston on Friday, then San Antonio will also have the tiebreaker over Houston.
The Clippers also have the tiebreaker over Houston based on better conference record, although if the Rockets win the Southwest division, that tiebreaker would be in favor of Houston as division winners win tiebreaker from team not winning a division.
If the Rockets win out, they will need one loss from Memphis to give Houston the southwest division title and the number two seed. As seen in the chart above, Memphis plays their next three games on the road and they are just 2-4 in their last six road games, including losses to Detroit, Washington and Boston.
NBA Vine of the Night – I wouldn’t normally dip into such a meaningless, uninteresting game, but here is a recent D-league call-up putting a first round draft pick on his keester. But it only is fun since the fallen player took to twitter to acknowledge the play. The NBA can be fun.
Here was Gary Harris’ acknowledgement on twitter.
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