The NBA: Remiss

Despite losing their last two games, the Rockets are still in the
hunt for a playoffs berth, so why so glum, chums?
(image from the AP) 

I’ve been remiss in publishing my NBA posts. For the past five days or so, it’s been tough balancing regularly publishing on this blog and, well, life.

But I cannot and will not give this blog up. Writing makes me happy. Basketball makes me happy. This blog is a constant reminder that I’m still my own person.

This is mine. This is part of ME.

Anyway. Back to regular programming.

Here’s an interesting post about the Houston Rockets from Patrick Harrel of

"A few weeks ago, the Rockets were facing an uphill climb to the playoffs. In a 10 team race for 8 playoff seeds, the Rockets were locked in a battle with Phoenix and Utah for the last spot, made tougher after losing their two starting guards. After an impressive 8-3 stretch over their last 11 contests, the Rockets have started to build some breathing room between them and the competition on the outside looking in.

Instead of just making the playoffs, the Rockets' goals may have shifted, especially with home court advantage in the first round up for grabs. With nine games left, the Rockets are just two games out of the 4th seed. At the same time, they have just a two game lead over the 9th seeded Suns.

Are they closer to the mediocrity of Phoenix and Utah, or are they true contenders to go places in the playoffs like the Clippers? Jump for more!

When Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin went down with injuries that threatened to end both of their seasons, most expected the Rockets to slowly fade in the competitive playoff race out West. Nobody could have expected that Courtney Lee and Goran Dragic could outperform their predecessors, that Luis Scola would have a late season resurgence, or that Marcus Camby would play his best basketball since his Denver days.

With Kyle Lowry coming back, this team starts looking very dangerous. Some are quick to dismiss a star-less roster as nothing more than a regular season phenomenon, but Memphis showed last year that a balanced roster with a solid defense could make some noise in the playoffs.

Daryl Morey often preaches that any team needs to have a top ten offense and a top ten defense to contend. For the first 40 games of the season, the Rockets were not close to that mark defensively. However, they have improved dramatically as of late, and have been playing at that level over the last 15 contests.

The importance of the additions of Dragic, Lee, and Camby into the starting lineups on the defense cannot be understated.

Kyle Lowry is widely considered one of the best defensive point guards in the league, but he has regressed badly on that end this season. The Rockets were often forced to put Courtney Lee and Chandler Parsons on quicker point guards this year as Lowry's tired legs couldn't stay in front of them. Dragic is a longer defender who has outperformed Lowry on that end. He's guarding his position and doing so very well as a starter.

Lee's impact goes without saying. Kevin Martin has never been anything better than average defensively at any point in his career, and this season is no exception. Not having to scheme to hide a lesser defender has allowed the Rockets more freedom on the defensive side of the ball, giving Courtney Lee and Chandler Parsons the ability to switch off on dangerous oppoenents.

Finally, Marcus Camby may have had the biggest impact on the improvement of the Rockets' defense. When acquired, most expected he would split minutes with Samuel Dalembert, allowing the two to stay fresh. Incredibly, the 38 year old has bumped Dalembert from the lineup and relegated him to a 15 minute per night role.

His shot-blocking has been welcome, but his discipline has been at least as important to this resurgence. Not only does he almost always make the right decision, but he has kept other players disciplined as well. Even Luis Scola looks more invigorated on defense, as Camby will let him know if he blows an assignment.

Some suggest that the Rockets are going to look elsewhere for the the star talent to carry them to contention, but what if the talent is on the roster now? Goran Dragic has shown he's a legitimate point guard that can lead a team, Kyle Lowry is an All-Star caliber player, and the team has young two-way players in Courtney Lee, Patrick Patterson, and Chandler Parsons here for the long-term.

Including Goran Dragic and Courtney Lee's cap holds, the Rockets could still have well over $10 million to sign on free agents this summer. If Kevin Martin is moved (though I believe the Rockets are going to try and give him a chance to reestablish his value before trading him), they could have $20 million to throw at their young free agent of their choice. With the resources to give him a contract and a promise for significant playing time as a backup to both Lowry and Lee, the Rockets are in a position to retain Dragic and form a tremendous three guard rotation.

So you have the basis for a championship roster in a top ten offense and defense, you can add any free agent you can convince to come to Houston, and have a potential lottery pick in a solid draft. Maybe that's not a championship roster, but it's a lot closer than you'd get if you lost 60 games for three years in a row."

The Rockets have since gone on a 2-game slump, which sunk them to 7th spot out West. They are still not out of the woods, since Phoenix and Utah can still steal the last 2 playoff spots if they win all of their last few games. As a sentimental Houston fan, however, I'm crossing my fingers that the Rockets will be able to hold the fort. Go Houston!!!

After the JUMP, April 10-14, 2012 stat-stuffers:

April 10, 2012 Game Recaps:
BOS over MIA, 115-107
Paul Pierce scored 27 points, Kevin Garnett had 24 and the Boston Celtics beat the Miami Heat for the second time in 10 days with a 115-107 win on Tuesday night. Rajon Rondo added 18 points and 15 assists for the Celtics, who led by as many as 18 points in the first half and improved to 18-7 since the All-Star break with their third straight win. LeBron James scored 36 points, Dwyane Wade had 20 and Chris Bosh chipped in 13 but Miami never led after the first quarter and lost two of its last three on a five-game homestand after winning 17 in a row in their building.

CHI over NYK, 98-86
The Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls avenged Sunday's overtime loss to the Knicks in impressive fashion. And they did so with reigning MVP Derrick Rose back on the bench. Richard Hamilton stepped up with 20 points and Luol Deng added 19 points and 10 rebounds in Tuesday's 98-86 win over New York despite Rose resting the ankle he injured in the opener of this home-and-home set. Carmelo Anthony, who erupted for 43 points in Sunday's potential playoff preview, netted 29 in the setback, New York's fourth in 15 games under interim head coach Mike Woodson. The loss dropped the Knicks into eighth place in the East's playoff race, just one game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks with nine to play.

PHI over NJN, 107-88
Lou Williams paced five Sixers in double figures with 20 points, and Philadelphia posted a 107-88 win over the New Jersey Nets at Prudential Center. Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young both totaled 19 points and eight rebounds for the Sixers, who resumed their playoff push by snapping a four-game losing streak. Philadelphia entered Tuesday's contest tied with New York for seventh in the Eastern Conference standings. The Knicks, though, lost on the road to Chicago. With the win, the Sixers moved two games ahead of the ninth-place Milwaukee Bucks, who were idle. Kris Humphries posted a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead New Jersey, which was outscored 64-48 over the second and third quarters. Deron Williams had 14 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Nets, who had won five of their previous seven games.

DAL over SAC, 110-100
Dirk Nowitzki was one of six players in double figures, scoring 15 points and grabbing eight rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks took down the Sacramento Kings, 110-100, on Tuesday at American Airlines Center. Rodrigue Beaubois also went for 15 points and five rebounds, Jason Terry and Delonte West added 13 points apiece, Brendan Haywood had 11 and five rebounds, while Shawn Marion added a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Mavs, who had lost three of their last four coming in. Dallas moved to within a half-game of idle Houston for the sixth seed in the Western Conference and has now beaten the Kings 16 consecutive times at home. DeMarcus Cousins poured in a game-high 25 points and pulled down 18 rebounds for the Kings, who lost for the fifth consecutive time. Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas contributed 16 points apiece and Jimmer Fredette added 13 in defeat.

WAS over ORL, 93-85
With Dwight Howard missing his second straight contest with back spasms, Kevin Seraphin took advantage, recording career-highs in points with 24 and rebounds with 13 as the Wizards defeated the Magic, 93-85, at Verizon Center on Tuesday. Jordan Crawford poured in 21 points, John Wall added 15 and James Singleton and Cartier Martin added 12 points apiece to help the Wizards to their second consecutive victory. Jameer Nelson paced the Magic with 19 points to go with seven assists, J.J. Redick netted 15 points and Quentin Richardson chipped in 14 points for the Magic, who had won two straight on the heels of a five-game skid. Orlando now occupies the sixth position in the East and sits a 1/2 game behind the idle Atlanta Hawks for fifth.

CLE over CHA, 103-90
Lester Hudson tallied a game-high 25 points with eight rebounds and six assists as Cleveland claimed a 103-90 decision over Charlotte. Anthony Parker totaled 19 points and Antawn Jamison added 17 and four helpers for the Cavaliers, who have won two of three since a nine- game losing skid. Gerald Henderson's 21 points and 16 points with 11 assists from D.J. Augustin weren't enough for the Bobcats, who lost their 13th straight game.

April 11, 2012 Game Recaps:
IND over CLE, 104-98 (OT)
Danny Granger poured in five points in overtime and finished with 23 overall as the Pacers held off the Cavaliers, 104-98, at Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday. David West tallied 19 points and George Hill added 17 for the Pacers, who remain in the third position in the East and have won six of their last seven. Lester Hudson finished with 19 points, while Antawn Jamison led the way with 21 points and eight rebounds. The Cavaliers, who had won two of three coming in, are now officially eliminated from playoff contention.

PHI over TOR, 93-75
Thaddeus Young scored 17 points, leading six players in double-figures, and the 76ers earned a much-needed 93-75 win over the Raptors on Wednesday. Philadelphia remains three games behind the first- place Celtics in the Atlantic Division and one game ahead of the Knicks for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Both Boston and New York won on Wednesday night. Nikola Vucevic added 12 points and Elton Brand finished with 11 and eight rebounds for the Sixers, who have won two straight for the first time since winning three in a row from March 7-11. Alan Anderson and Ed Davis scored 13 points apiece to pace the Raptors, losers of four straight. They were again without leading scorer Andrea Bargnani, who is suffering from tightness in his calf, and lost point guard Jose Calderon and forward Linas Kleiza to injury during the game.

BOS over ATL, 88-86 (OT)
Rajon Rondo recorded a triple-double, scoring 10 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and handing out 20 assists as the Celtics held on for an 88-86 victory over the Hawks at TD Garden on Wednesday. Both teams had a shot to win the game in regulation, but Kevin Garnett came up short on his turnaround attempt and Jannero Pargo missed a wide-open jumper on the other end to send the game to overtime. Garnett finished with 22 points and 12 boards before fouling out with 2:43 left in overtime. Brandon Bass chipped in 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Paul Pierce tallied 14 points to lead the Celtics to their fourth straight win. Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 21 points and Josh Smith recorded a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, but the Hawks saw their three-game win streak come to an end. Boston, Atlanta and the Orlando Magic all hold identical 34-24 records, with Boston holding the fourth spot as the Atlantic Division leader and Atlanta occupying the fifth position.

UTA over HOU, 103-91
Gordon Hayward netted a season-high 29 points as the Utah Jazz got a much-needed 103-91 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. Paul Millsap filled the stat sheet with 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals and Derrick Favors had a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards off the bench for the Jazz, who have won two in a row and three of four. Goran Dragic paced the Rockets with 19 points and Kyle Lowry contributed 15 in defeat. Houston saw a four-game winning streak snapped. With Houston's loss and Denver's win later Wednesday, there is now a three-way tie for sixth place in the Western Conference. Utah sits 1 1/2 games behind the group, which includes Dallas, for the final playoff spot in the West.

MEM over PHX, 104-93
Rudy Gay netted 32 points as the Memphis Grizzlies downed the Phoenix Suns, 104-93, at FedExForum. Zach Randolph added 17 points and nine rebounds, while O.J. Mayo contributed 15 points and Mike Conley finished with 12 and seven assists for Memphis, which won its fourth straight game and sits in the fifth seed of the Western Conference. Marcin Gortat paced Phoenix with 19 points, Shannon Brown had 18 and Markieff Morris dropped in 17 for the Suns, who had won five of their last six. Steve Nash had 11 points and 10 rebounds but turned the ball over seven times as Phoenix fell to the 10th spot in the West after Utah won on Wednesday.

NYK over MIL 111-107
J.R. Smith made the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:04 remaining and the Knicks got past the Bucks, 111-107, in Wednesday's crucial Eastern Conference matchup. With the win the Knicks moved two games ahead of Milwaukee for the conference's eighth and final playoff spot. They were paced by Carmelo Anthony's 32 points and got 19 from Tyson Chandler. New York remains one game behind seventh-place Philadelphia in the East and four games behind Boston in the Atlantic Division after both the 76ers and the Celtics won on Wednesday. Monta Ellis had 35 points and 10 assists in the setback, while Brandon Jennings added 22 points and Mike Dunleavy finished with 19.

NOH over SAC, 105-96
Jason Smith had 22 points, Marco Belinelli scored 21 and New Orleans posted a 105-96 victory over Sacramento in a matchup between the two worst teams in the Western Conference. Greivis Vasquez totaled 15 points and five assists for the Hornets, who have won three of their last five games. Marcus Thornton paced the Kings with 25 points, while Tyreke Evans finished with 19 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals. Sacramento dropped its sixth straight game, tying a season high (Feb. 11-21).

LAC over OKC, 100-98
Chris Paul scored 11 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead basket with 8.8 seconds remaining to give the Clippers a 100-98 comeback victory over the Western Conference- leading Thunder. Kevin Durant tried following Paul's driving floater as time wound down, but his three-point try from the left wing found all iron. Despite its fourth loss in six games, Oklahoma City maintained its one-game lead over the Spurs atop the conference after San Antonio lost to the Lakers Wednesday night. Blake Griffin totaled 16 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for Los Angeles, which rebounded from Monday's loss at Memphis to stay 1 1/2 games behind the Pacific Division-leading Lakers.

LAL over SAS, 98-84
Metta World Peace stepped up with 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting and Andrew Bynum pulled down a staggering 30 rebounds, as the Lakers rolled to a convincing 98-84 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. The lopsided decision was surprising considering the league's leading scorer, Kobe Bryant, sat out for a third straight game due to a sore left shin. Bynum added 16 points to go along with his big night on the glass, while Pau Gasol chipped in 21 points and 11 boards for the Lakers, who held a decided 60-33 rebounding advantage. Los Angeles' sixth win in eight games helped maintain its 1 1/2-game lead over the Clippers atop the Pacific Division. The Spurs dropped their second straight on the heels of an 11-game winning streak and remained a game back of the Western Conference-leading Thunder. Danny Green paced San Antonio with 22 points, while Tony Parker was held to just four points on an uncharacteristic 2-of-12 shooting effort.

DEN over MIN 113-107
Ty Lawson scored 24 points and Arron Afflalo netted 21 as the Denver Nuggets pulled out a 113-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. Danilo Gallinari contributed 18 points while Kenneth Faried notched a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double in the victory, Denver's second straight. The Nuggets moved into a three-way tie with Houston and idle Dallas for the sixth position in the Western Conference. Utah is 1 1/2 games back. Anthony Randolph and Derrick Williams both provided a spark off the bench for Minnesota, pouring in 28 and 27 points, respectively, but the Wolves extended their season-high losing streak to seven games.

POR over GSW, 118-110
Jamal Crawford scored 34 points off the bench as the Portland Trail Blazers escaped with a 118-110 victory over the Golden State Warriors at the Rose Garden. J.J. Hickson had 23 points and 13 rebounds in place of LaMarcus Aldridge, who did not play after having an abnormality discovered in his hip on Wednesday and will be re-evaluated over the next day or two. Wesley Matthews finished with 18 points and Raymond Felton contributed 16 points and 10 assists for Portland, which snapped a two-game slide and currently sits in the 11th seed of the Western Conference. David Lee paced Golden State with 21 points and 14 rebounds, while Nate Robinson netted 19 points for the Warriors, who were eliminated from the playoffs with the loss.

April 12, 2012 Game Recaps:
CHI over MIA, 96-86
C.J. Watson scored 16 points, including the game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation, and the Chicago Bulls pulled away in overtime to beat the Miami Heat. Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 19 points and Kyle Korver added 17 points for the Bulls, who outscored Miami 12-2 in overtime to boost their lead in the Eastern Conference to four games. LeBron James scored 30 points for Miami, but missed a free throw that would have made it a two-possession game late in regulation. Dwyane Wade added 21 points, Chris Bosh scored 20, but the Heat lost for the sixth time in 11 games.

SAS over MEM, 107-97
Tim Duncan had 28 points and 12 rebounds and the Spurs snapped out of a funk to top the surging Grizzlies. Manu Ginobili added 20 points and Tony Parker scored 13, redeeming themselves a night after being humiliated by the Kobe Bryant-less Los Angeles Lakers. The Spurs narrowly escaped their first three-game slide this season. Rudy Gay led Memphis with 19 points. The Grizzlies had their four-game winning streak halted after their rally from a late 14-point deficit fizzled in the final minutes. Memphis fell 1½ games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 4 playoff seed. It was only the third loss in 12 games for the Grizzlies since the return of Zach Randolph.

LAC over MIN, 95-82
Blake Griffin had 19 points and 13 rebounds and Caron Butler scored 17 points to lead the Clippers to a victory over the Timberwolves. Mo Williams had 14 points and five assists in his return for the Clippers, who are a game behind the Lakers for the third seed in the West and 1½ game ahead of Memphis for the fourth seed. Michael Beasley had 14 points and 10 rebounds and J.J. Barea had 10 points and 11 assists for the Timberwolves, who have lost eight straight games. They've lost 24 in a row in the month of April dating back to 2009. The Wolves were playing without All-Star Kevin Love, who missed the game with a mild concussion.

DET over CHA, 109-85
Greg Monroe had 25 points and 11 rebounds to help the Pistons salvage a four-game road trip with a rout of the woeful Bobcats. Brandon Knight added 21 points and seven assists while Jason Maxiell was a perfect 8-for-8 from the field and finished with 17 points. Monroe was 11-for-14 from the field. The Pistons had won six of seven games before embarking on a road trip that included losses to Atlanta, Miami and Orlando, the final two by a combined margin of 53 points. But they had no such problems with Bobcats, who became the first team this season to lose 50 games. Detroit shot 61 percent from the field over the first three quarters and led by as many as 36.

DAL over GSW, 112-103
Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points and former Golden State lottery pick Brandan Wright had 16 points and nine rebounds, leading the Mavericks past the Warriors. Jason Kidd added 12 assists, 10 rebounds and nine points to pace the Mavericks to a 19-point lead before hanging on late, moving 1½ games behind Memphis for the Western Conference's fifth playoff seed. The Grizzlies lost 107-97 to San Antonio earlier in the night. The Mavericks are just a half-game ahead of Denver and Houston. David Lee had 30 points and eight rebounds and rookie Klay Thompson finished with 24 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the shorthanded Warriors. Golden State has lost three straight and is already eliminated from playoff contention.

April 13, 2012 Game Recaps:
IND over CLE, 102-83
Danny Granger scored 18 points, Tyler Hansbrough added 16 points off the bench, and the Indiana Pacers clinched their second consecutive playoff berth with a 102-83 rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers. George Hill had 15 points, seven assists and four rebounds for the Pacers, who outscored Cleveland 34-13 in the third quarter to seize control of the contest. Roy Hibbert added a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Pacers, winners in seven of their last eight games, have a two-game lead over Atlanta, which defeated Orlando on Friday, for the Eastern Conference's No. 3 seed. Indiana has a three-game advantage over Boston, which lost to Toronto on Friday, and Orlando. Omri Casspi netted 14 points off the bench to pace the Cavs, who have lost 12 of their last 14 contests.

ATL over ORL, 109-81
Jannero Pargo connected on five three-pointers and scored a game-high 17 points as the Atlanta Hawks dominated the Orlando Magic, 109-81, at Amway Center. Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Marvin Williams added 16 points apiece for the Hawks, who won for the fifth time in seven games. Atlanta currently sits a game ahead of Orlando for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. There was some bad news, though, as Hawks' starting center Zaza Pachulia suffered a sprained ankle late in the second quarter and did not return for the second half. He had eight points and four rebounds before leaving with the injury. Glen Davis and Von Wafer each netted 16 points to pace the Magic, who were playing their third straight game without All-Star center Dwight Howard due to back spasms.

NJN over PHI. 95-89
Another winnable game, another loss the Philadelphia 76ers can't afford. Gerald Green scored 23 points, MarShon Brooks had 22 and both hit key three- pointers down the stretch to lead the New Jersey Nets to a 95-89 win over the Sixers on Friday night. Kris Humphries added 18 points and 13 rebounds and Jordan Williams scored 13 for the Nets, who have won three of four. The Sixers, in a battle for one of the last spots in the Eastern Conference playoffs, had a two-game winning streak snapped after letting the Nets close the game on a 10-4 run. Jrue Holiday scored 19 points, Evan Turner had 18 and Thaddeus Young chipped in 13 in the loss. The Sixers are tied with New York for seventh in the East, with both teams two games ahead of ninth-place Milwaukee.

TOR over BOS, 84-79
DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points on Friday and the Raptors defeated the Celtics, 84-79. The Celtics had won four straight entering Friday and could have clinched a playoff berth with a victory and a Milwaukee loss. They still hold a three-game lead in the Atlantic Division by virtue of a 76ers loss to the Nets on Friday. Paul Pierce had 18 points and eight rebounds in the setback, but missed a potential tying three-pointer in the closing seconds. The Raptors, who had lost four in a row and were playing without Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon, got 17 points from Linas Kleiza and 12 from Alan Anderson.

MIA over CHA, 105-82
LeBron James had 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists and the Heat cruised past the lowly Bobcats, 105-82, on Friday. The Heat were coming off of Thursday's overtime loss to Chicago. They were without Dwyane Wade (ankle) against Charlotte, but got 18 points from Chris Bosh and 16 from Dexter Pittman to pull within 3 1/2 games of the idle Bulls for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Derrick Brown had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Bobcats, losers of 15 in a row. They are the only team in the NBA with single-digit victories (7-51).

April 14, 2012 Game Recaps:
OKC over MIN, 115-110
Kevin Durant scored 43 points and Russell Westbrook had 35 and eight assists to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder atop the Western Conference with a 115-110 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night. Durant scored 16 in the final seven minutes for the Thunder, who started the day one game ahead of the Spurs — but tied in the loss column — for the top seed in the West. Anthony Randolph had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Michael Beasley scored 26 for the Timberwolves, who lost their ninth straight game and 25th in a row in April dating to 2009. The Wolves were playing without All-Star Kevin Love, who missed his second straight game with a concussion.

SAS over PHX, 105-91
Tim Duncan had 19 points and 10 rebounds, Tony Parker scored 14 and San Antonio officially clinched the Southwest Division title. More importantly, the Spurs stayed neck-and-neck with Oklahoma City for the No. 1 playoff seed in the Western Conference. San Antonio remains a game behind the Thunder with eight games to go. Sebastian Telfair scored 21 points for Phoenix, which simply wants to make the postseason. Yet the Suns never looked ready to play from the start and slipped 1 1/2 games behind Denver and Houston for the West’s eighth and final playoff spot. Phoenix trailed by 17 before the first quarter was even halfway finished, and Steve Nash and Grant Hill sat out the entire second half.

LAC over GSW, 112-104
Chris Paul had 28 points and 13 assists, and the Clippers beat Golden State to close within a game of the Lakers for the Pacific Division lead. Blake Griffin added 20 points, DeAndre Jordan 18 and Mo Williams 14 in the Clippers’ third straight win and 11th in their last 13 games. They are also chasing the idle Lakers for the third seed in the Western Conference with six games remaining. The Clippers’ 36 wins are their most since they won 40 games in 2006-07. Nate Robinson led injury-riddled Golden State with 28 points.

CLE over WAS, 98-89
Luke Harangody had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Anthony Parker scored 15 points and Tristan Thompson added 14 to lead Cleveland. Donald Sloan had a career-high 13 points to help the Cavaliers win a game featuring teams that had combined to lose 23 of their 28 coming in. John Wall scored 19 points to lead the Wizards, one night after missing 10 of 12 shots in a 103-65 loss at New York. Jordan Crawford had 18 points and Kevin Seraphin added 15. The score was tied at 73 early in the fourth quarter before Cleveland took over. Parker made two free throws with 4:24 to go, giving the Cavaliers a 93-83 lead.

BOS over NJN, 94-82
Avery Bradley hit three straight 3-pointers and scored 11 of his 18 points in a game-deciding third quarter as surging Boston beat New Jersey. Kevin Garnett had 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Celtics, who have won 10 of 13, and 20 of 28 to take over first place in the Atlantic Division. Rajon Rondo added 15 assists, Brandon Bass had 18 points and Paul Pierce 17 for Boston, which limited New Jersey to 34 second-half points in beating the Nets for the third time in three games this season. Gerald Green had 15 points to lead New Jersey, while rookie Jordan Williams had 12 points and career-best 14 rebounds in recording his first double-double. Deron Williams had 12 points and 14 assists.

MEM over UTA, 103-98
O.J. Mayo scored 17 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to rally Memphis past Utah. The Jazz held a 4-point lead early in the final period, but Mayo scored 10-straight points for Memphis to erase the advantage. His 3-pointer with 46 seconds left gave the Grizzlies enough of an advantage to win for the fifth time in six games overall and seventh straight at home. Rudy Gay led Memphis with 26 points, 18 in the second half, and 12 rebounds, while Mike Conley and Marc Gasol added 17 points apiece. Conley also had six assists. Al Jefferson and Devin Harris scored 20 points apiece for Utah. Paul Millsap and Gordon Hayward had 17 points each and Derrick Favors added 10 points and 14 rebounds.

IND over MIL, 105-99
Roy Hibbert had 23 points and 14 rebounds, including six free throws in the final 74 seconds, to lead Indiana to its fourth straight win. Danny Granger scored 21 points and George Hill added 13 points for the Pacers. Monta Ellis had 20 points and Brandon Jennings added 16 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for Milwaukee. The Bucks lost for the third time in four games to fall 2 1/2 games behind New York and Philadelphia for one of the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Neither team could make baskets in the final minutes, with Indiana missing its last nine shots and Milwaukee five straight before Ellis hit a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left to pull the Bucks to 103-99 with 11 seconds left.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
April 10: LeBron James (MIA) – 36 
April 11: Monta Ellis (MIL) – 35
April 12: LeBron James (MIA) & David Lee (GSW) – 30
April 13: Andrew Bynum (LAL) – 30
April 14: Kevin Durant (OKC) – 43

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
April 10: DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) – 18
April 11: Andrew Bynum (LAL) – 30
April 12: Blake Griffin (LAC) – 13
April 13: Marcus Camby (HOU) – 18
April 14: Roy Hibbert (IND), Jordan Williams (NJN), & Derrick Favors (UTA) – 14

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
April 10: Rajon Rondo (BOS) – 15
April 11: Rajon Rondo (BOS) – 20
April 12: Jason Kidd (DAL) – 12
April 13: Rajon Rondo (BOS) – 12
April 14: Rajon Rondo (BOS) – 15

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
April 10: DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) – 6
April 11: Tyreke Evans (SAC), & Monta Ellis (MIL), & DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) – 4
April 12: Marc Gasol (MEM) – 4
April 13: Metta World Peace (LAL) & John Wall (WAS) – 5
April 14: Klay Thompson (GSW) & Stephen Jackson (SAS) – 4

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
April 10: Kevin Seraphin (WAS) – 4
April 11: Anthony Randolph (MIN) – 5
April 12: Chris Bosh (MIA) – 4
April 13: Serge Ibaka (OKC) – 7
April 14: Serge Ibaka (OKC) – 5

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
April 10: Anthony Parker (CLE) – 4
April 11: Metta World Peace (LAL) & Danny Green (SAS) – 5
April 12: Kyle Korver (CHI) & Caron Butler (LAC) – 5
April 13: Jannero Pargo (ATL) – 5
April 14: TOO MANY with 4!!!

April 10, 2012 First Five
C – DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) – 25pts, 18rebs, 6stls, 3asts, 2blks
F – Kevin Garnett (BOS) – 24pts, 9rebs, 2asts, 2blks
F – Kevin Seraphin (WAS) – 24pts, 13rebs, 4blks, 2asts
G – LeBron James (MIA) – 36pts, 7rebs, 7asts, 1stl, 1blk
G – Lester Hudson (CLE) – 25pts, 8rebs, 6asts, 1stl, 1blk

KG and the Celtics are peaking just in time to close out the
regular season. Will they continue their tough play in the playoffs?
(image by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
 Honorable Mention:
Carmelo Anthony (NYK) – 29pts, 5asts, 4stls, 2rebs
Rajon Rondo (BOS) – 18pts, 15asts, 4rebs
Paul Pierce (BOS) – 27pts, 7rebs, 3 treys, 2asts, 1stl

April 11, 2012 First Five
C – Anthony Randolph (MIN) – 28pts, 6rebs, 5blks, 1ast
F – Rudy Gay (MEM) – 32pts, 7rebs, 2stls, 1ast
F – Gordon Hayward (UTA) – 29pts, 6asts, 4 treys, 2rebs, 2stls
G – Monta Ellis (MIL) – 35pts, 10asts, 6rebs, 4stls, 3 treys
G – Chris Paul (LAC) – 31pts, 6rebs, 4asts, 2stls

Honorable Mention:
Carmelo Anthony (NYK) – 32pts, 10rebs, 2asts, 1blk
Andrew Bynum (LAL) – 16pts, 30rebs, 2asts, 2blks
JJ Hickson (POR) – 23pts, 13rebs, 3asts, 1blk

April 12, 2012 First Five
C – Greg Monroe (DET) – 25pts, 11rebs, 4asts, 1stl, 1blk
F – Tim Duncan (SAS) – 28pts, 12rebs, 2blks
F – LeBron James (MIA) – 30pts, 6rebs, 5asts, 3 treys, 1stl, 1blk
G – Klay Thompson (GSW) – 24pts, 8asts, 7rebs, 3 treys, 2stls, 1blk
G – Jason Kidd (DAL) – 9pts, 12asts, 10rebs, 3 treys, 3stls, 2blks

Honorable Mention:
David Lee (GSW) – 30pts, 8rebs, 1ast, 1stl
Blake Griffin (LAC) – 19pts, 13rebs, 5asts, 1stl, 1blk
Brandon Knight (DET) – 21pts, 7asts, 3rebs, 3 treys, 3stls

April 13, 2012 First Five
C – Andrew Bynum (LAL) – 30pts, 8rebs, 3asts, 3blks, 1stl
F – Drew Gooden (MIL) – 26pts, 8asts, 5rebs, 1stl, 1blk
F – Paul Millsap (UTA) – 27pts, 8rebs, 3asts, 3stls, 1blk
G – Matt Barnes (LAL) – 24pts, 10rebs, 4 treys, 2asts
G – Brandon Knight (DET) – 25pts, 8asts, 5rebs, 1stl

Honorable Mention:
Marcin Gortat (PHX) – 20pts, 15rebs, 2blks, 1stl
Marcus Camby (HOU) – 14pts, 18rebs, 4asts, 3blks, 2stls
Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) – 24pts, 9rebs, 4 treys, 3asts, 1stl, 1blk

April 14, 2012 First Five
C – Roy Hibbert (IND) – 23pts, 14rebs, 2asts, 1blk
F – Rudy Gay (MEM) – 26pts, 12rebs, 2blks, 1ast, 1stl
F – Kevin Durant (OKC) – 43pts, 7rebs, 4 treys, 1ast, 1blk
G – Russell Westbrook (OKC) – 35pts, 8asts, 2stls, 1reb
G – Chris Paul (LAC) – 28pts, 13asts, 4rebs, 3 treys, 3stls

Honorable Mention:
Nate Robinson (GSW) – 28pts, 8asts, 5rebs, 4 treys
JJ Barea (MIN) – 24pts, 10asts, 3rebs, 3 treys, 3stls
Michael Beasley (MIN) – 26pts, 6rebs, 3asts, 2stls, 1blk

*Game recaps were compiled and compressed from the Associated Press and the Sports Network.
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