The NBA: Awards Watch: 3rd Edition

We have reached roughly the 75% mark of the season and most teams have played around 60 games. The playoffs are due in about 6 weeks and positioning for spots has been very exciting. It's time to examine for the third time how the players have performed for the different individual awards for the 2012-2013 season.

The Top 5 players in each individual award category are listed including their rank from the previous edition.

Here's the link for the past editions:  1st Edition  2nd Edition

Statistics used are from games until March 9, 2013.

LBJ has driven past KD in the MVP category
(Image from: USA Today)

1. LeBron James, Miami Heat | Last Rank: 2nd
The Heat have a 17-game winning streak and they have the best record in the NBA. LBJ leads the league in PER and is shooting a career-high 56% with 29 double-doubles (7th in NBA) and 3 triple-doubles. He also has a 2-0 advantage vs Durant in their meetings this season.

2. Kevin Durant, OKC Thunder | Last Rank: 1st
KD leads the league in scoring and is headed for his 4th straight scoring title but his MVP campaign looks bleak. He is still the 2nd best player in the NBA but his overall game needs improvement. Durant is second to James in PER and is currently shooting 50+ from the field, 90+ from free throws and 41+ from threes.

3. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers | Last Rank: 3rd
Chris Paul is 3rd in PER and averages 17 and 9.6 assists for the very entertaining Lob City Clippers. CP3 has been clutch for the Clips and he can take over games at the end. Paul also leads the league in steals which can generate gorgeous alley-oops to Blake Griffin.

4. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs | Last Rank: 5th
Parker guided the Spurs to the best record in the NBA before he went down with an ankle injury that would sideline him for a month. The Spurs then are 2-1 in the 3 games that TP missed recently. Parker is 5th in PER while shooting 53% from the floor to lead all guards.

5. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers | Last Rank: Not Ranked
The Lakers are just 0.5 games out of the 8th spot in the West. Kobe has been amazing in the last 2 weeks, hitting clutch treys/shots and willing his team to victories. He has scored 30+ in 7 of 8 games. Bryant leads the league in total minutes and he has crept into the top 10 in PER

Out of the Rankings: Carmelo Anthony - 4th

Lillard is running away with the ROY trophy
(Image from:

1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers | Last Rank: 1st
Lillard won the Skills Rookie Challenge and that will accompany his ROY trophy at the end of the season. He leads all rookies in minutes, points, threes made and assists. Lillard did not get challenged to much due to injuries by Drummond and Davis.

2. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards Last Rank: 5th
The Wizards are more competitive now since John Wall came back, but the improvement of Beal has been noticeable. He averaged almost 20 points in his last 10 games and the Wiz traded Jordan Crawford to give him more minutes.

3. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers Last Rank: 4th
Waiters has been solid for most of the season and he ranks 2nd in rookie scoring and 2nd in team scoring with the Cavs. He is scoring nearly 18 points in his last 10 games. His scoring in wins or losses are rougly the same which shows his consistency.

4. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets Last Rank: 3rd
Anthony Davis is tops in double-doubles and 2nd in PER among rookies since Drummond went down with an injury. Davis has had a rather underwhelming rookie campaign due to injuries and was not a threat in the ROY award.

5. Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons Last Rank: Not Ranked
Singler has been a more durable player for the Pistons (played all 64 games) than Drummond. He started in 56 games and has been solid with 9 points and 4 rebounds.

Out of the Rankings: Andre Drummond - 2nd

Jarrett Jack has been clutch for the Warriors
(Image from:
Sixth Man

1. Jamal Crawford, LA Clippers Last Rank: 1st
Crawford still makes big shots for the Clippers and he leads all bench players in points per game. Crawford produced this highlight of the year alley-oop nominee with Blake Griffin last week.

2. Jarrett Jack, Golden State Warriors Last Rank: 5th
Jack has made clutch shots for the Warriors including that OT win over the Spurs 2 weeks back. The Warriors trust his leadership and decision-making which allows them to play small ball with Curry and Thompson.

3. Kevin Martin, OKC Thunder Last Rank: 3rd
Martin has struggled lately with his shooting but still averages a decent 14.5 points and shoots 43% from downtown and 90% from the foul line.

4. JR Smith, New York Knicks Last Rank: 2nd
JR had big scoring games for the Knicks but he has been inefficient shooting the ball (below 40%) and his bad shots and bad decisions have led to a couple of losses for the Knicks.

5. Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Hornets Last Rank: Not Ranked
Anderson is 2nd in threes made and 2nd in team scoring with the Hornets. He has been the best big man on the Hornets even with Anthony Davis on the team.

Out of the Rankings - Carl Landry - 4th

Paul George made the All-Star team this season
(Image from: Bleacher Report)
Most Improved Player

1. Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic Last Rank: 1st
Vucevic had another 20-20 game vs the Heat which gives him 2 for his career, both against the Heat. Vucevic is 5th in rebounding and 4th in double-doubles.

2. Paul George, Indiana Pacers Last Rank: Not Ranked
George made the leap to All-Star in his 3rd year and he leads the Pacers in points. He has career-highs in all major offensive categories. George is also becoming a decent defender on the perimeter.

3. Grievis Vasquez, New Orleans Hornets Last Rank: 3rd
Vasquez is 3rd in the NBA in assists behind Rondo and Paul. He has 23 double-doubles and 1 triple-double. He's having a career year in points, assists, rebounds and threes.

4. Omer Asik, Houston Rockets Last Rank: 2nd
Asik has been solid for the season and still averages a double-double (10.4 & 11.8) He 28 double-doubles for the year and is 2nd in rebounding.

5. Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers Last Rank: 4th
Holiday also made the jump into All-Star in his 3rd year. He is 4th in assists per game and leads the Sixers in points and assists.

Out of the Rankings: Nicolas Batum - 5th 

Larry Sanders has swatted his way into the DPOY conversation
(Image from:

1. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls Last Rank: 1st
Noah had 23 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocks in a win over the Sixers. Noah is 4th in rebounds, 6th in blocks and tied for 7th in double-doubles.

2. LeBron James, Miami Heat Last Rank: 5th
LBJ has guarded elite scorers on the perimeter and post players. During the Heat's winning streak, James has effectively limited the likes of Carmelo, KD, Kobe and Holiday.

3. Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks Last Rank: 2nd
The Knicks are 10th in team defense mainly due to Chandler's presence. Chandler rotates well on pick and rolls and helps on defense often. Tyson averages 11 and 11.

4. Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks Last Rank: 3rd
Sanders leads the league in blocks and his minutes are starting to go over the 30-minute mark. His rebounds have gone up with the extra usage: 12 boards in the last 10  games.

5. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies Last Rank: Not Ranked
The Grizzlies are tops in team defense and Marc Gasol is a big reason behind that. His rebounds and blocks are not impressive but his mobility and communication with teammates result in better overall defense.

Out of the Rankings: Serge Ibaka - 4th

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Game Recaps
(Monday, March 4th)
Final Score: New York 102, Cleveland 97
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Amar'e Stoudemire was the key to a second- half comeback for the New York Knicks, who overcame a miserable start to take a 102-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday at Quicken Loans Arena. Stoudemire tied a season-high with 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting and was forced to play over his 30-minute cap limit in the absence of Carmelo Anthony, who exited with a knee injury in the second quarter. New York was also aided by some timely 3-point shooting, converting 7-for-11 from long distance in the final quarter to overcome a 22-point deficit earlier in the game and end a 10- game losing streak in Cleveland. Steve Novak and Jason Kidd combined for seven triples and scored 15 and 12 points, respectively, while J.R. Smith chipped in 18 points to help the Knicks rebound from their loss to Miami on Sunday. It was a tale of two halves for the Cavaliers, who shot just 31.4 percent over the final two quarters after converting an insane 68.4 percent by halftime. Marreese Speights scored 23 points and Kyrie Irving returned from a three-game absence to finish with 22. Rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller both missed the contest for Cleveland with illnesses.

Final Score: Milwaukee 109, Utah 108 (OT)
Milwaukee, WI (Sports Network) - Monta Ellis scored 34 points on 15-of-21 shooting and the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Utah Jazz, 109-108, in overtime on Monday. Brandon Jennings recorded a double-double with 20 points and 17 assists, while J.J. Redick scored 17 points off the bench for the Bucks, who are on a four- game winning streak. Larry Sanders had eight points, 16 rebounds and six blocks for Milwaukee. Derrick Favors registered 23 points and 15 rebounds, Paul Millsap had 22 points and 14 rebounds and Enes Kanter added 18 points and grabbed 10 boards for the Jazz, who were coming off a win against Charlotte on Friday.

Final Score: Miami 97, Minnesota 81
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - Dwyane Wade poured in 32 points and LeBron James shook off a sore knee to post a double-double, with the duo leading the Miami Heat to a franchise-record 15th consecutive win with a a 97-81 decision over the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. Wade added 10 assists in addition to going 15-of-23 from the field, while James put up 20 points and 10 rebounds despite being questionable to play coming in after twisting his left knee in Sunday's 99-93 victory at New York. Ray Allen contributed 13 points to help the Heat surpass their previous club mark of 14 straight triumphs, set between Dec. 6, 2004-Jan. 1, 2005. The injury-riddled Timberwolves, meanwhile, were dealt a sixth straight loss and fell to 4-22 in their last 26 games. Derrick Williams paced Minnesota with a season-high 25 points, with Ricky Rubio recording 14 points, eight assists and six steals in the setback.

Final Score: Orlando 105, New Orleans 102
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Arron Afflalo scored a game-high 26 points and provided the go-ahead bucket in the final minute, as the Orlando Magic pulled out a 105-102 comeback win over the New Orleans Hornets. Jameer Nelson, who had missed the previous six games due to a knee injury, chipped in 15 points and seven assists, while Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless added 15 and 13 points, respectively, in the win. Orlando trailed by 17 in the third quarter and were down by nine late in the fourth before rallying to end a three-game skid. Anthony Davis returned from a two-game absence and totaled 17 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks for the Hornets, who have lost three of four. Eric Gordon and Greivis Vasquez each netted 17 points, but Vasquez missed a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Final Score: Denver 104, Atlanta 88
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Corey Brewer posted a game-high 22 points and the Denver Nuggets blew past the Atlanta Hawks in the fourth quarter to take a 104-88 decision on Monday at the Pepsi Center. Ty Lawson added 18 points and eight assists, Kenneth Faried tallied 10 points with 13 rebounds and Wilson Chandler and Andre Iguodala contributed 13 and 12 points, respectively, as the Nuggets captured their 11th straight win at home. Atlanta had a promising start to its six-game road trip with three straight victories, but closed it out with three consecutive losses. Al Horford totaled 18 points and 13 boards, while Josh Smith and Jeff Teague poured in 15 points apiece in the setback.

(Tuesday, March 5th)
Final Score: Boston 109, Philadelphia 101
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Boston Celtics rallied together once Rajon Rondo went down and rattled off seven straight wins -- six at home. But in the midst of a brutal road stretch since the All-Star break, wins haven't come as easy. Avery Bradley had 22 points in the Celtics' 109-101 triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics, who have won three in a row, are in the middle of playing 9-of-11 games on the road. They went 2-3 during a five-game road trek right after the break before defeating Golden State Friday in Beantown. Boston improved to 11-18 away from home, opposed to a 21-8 mark at TD Garden. Paul Pierce tallied 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, while Kevin Garnett added 18 points, six helpers and five boards in the victory. Thaddeus Young had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Sixers, who have lost 28 of their last 40 tilts since beginning the year 11-8. They had won six of their last seven meetings against Boston in Philadelphia -- including the postseason.

Final Score: Oklahoma City 122, LA Lakers 105
Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - Kevin Durant is usually the Lakers' biggest problem, but Tuesday they couldn't contain Russell Westbrook either. And the Oklahoma City Thunder matched an all-time mark in efficiency. Westbrook had 37 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the Oklahoma City Thunder's wire-to-wire 122-105 win over the Lakers. Durant, who came in averaging 37.7 points per game in the three meetings with Los Angeles this season, netted 20 of his 26 points in the first half for the Thunder, who have won five of their last six games on the heels of a three-game slide. The Thunder turned the ball over just twice, which tied them with the 2006 Milwaukee Bucks and 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers for the fewest giveaways in a game -- the stat only dates back to 1985. Kobe Bryant suffered an ulnar nerve contusion to his right elbow in the first half before returning and finishing with 30 points in defeat. Dwight Howard snatched 16 boards for Los Angeles, which failed to eclipse the .500 mark for the first time since the Lakers were 6-5 following a win against the Brooklyn Nets on Nov. 20.

Final Score: Denver 120, Sacramento 113
Sacramento, CA (Sports Network) - Ty Lawson had 24 points and Danilo Gallinari added 23 points in the Denver Nuggets' sixth straight win, a 120-113 triumph over the Sacramento Kings. Kenneth Faried finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds for Denver, which has won eight in a row against Sacramento. Marcus Thornton nailed five 3-pointers en route to 32 points for the Kings, who have dropped eight of their last 10 comments.

(Wendesday, March 6th)
Final Score: Brooklyn 99, Charlotte 78
Joe Johnson scored 22 points and led the Brooklyn Nets to a 99-78 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. Johnson shot 8-of-14 from the field, including 5-of-8 from behind the arc, for the Nets, who came into the game off a loss at Chicago on Saturday. Deron Williams had 20 points and eight assists and Brook Lopez added 16 points. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored a team-high 17 points for the Bobcats, who are on an eight-game losing streak. Ben Gordon added 16 points off the bench and Kemba Walker recorded 10 points and eight assists.

Final Score: Cleveland 104, Utah 101
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Kyrie Irving scored 11 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Cleveland Cavaliers edged the Utah Jazz, 104-101, at Quicken Loans Arena. Irving, who also had 10 assists and seven rebounds, came up with a pivotal steal that led to Wayne Ellington's go-ahead slam with 56.4 seconds left. Ellington finished with 16 points and six rebounds and rookie Tristan Thompson chipped in with 16 points and 12 boards for the Cavs, who have won five of their last eight games. Gordon Hayward poured in a game-high 25 points off the bench for the Jazz, who got 17 points and seven rebounds from Enes Kanter. Paul Millsap scored 16 points and pulled down eight boards in the setback.

Final Score: Boston 83, Indiana 81
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Jeff Green laid in the game-winning basket with a half-second remaining as the Boston Celtics stole an 83-81 decision over the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Celtics trailed by nine with 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation and scored the final 11 points to capture their fourth straight victory. Kevin Garnett finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds and assisted on the deciding bucket, while Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley chipped in 13 points apiece for the victors. All five Pacers starters scored in double digits, but Indiana was held to 13 points in the fourth quarter. Paul George had a team-high 16 points, and David West totaled 11 points and 16 rebounds in the loss, the club's second in its last nine games. If the playoffs had started before the game, these teams would have squared off in the first round with the Pacers as the No. 2 seed and the Celtics coming in at No. 7 in the Eastern Conference.

Final Score: Atlanta 107, Philadelphia 96
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Jeff Teague had 27 points and 11 assists in the Atlanta Hawks' 107-96 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Al Horford added 21 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Atlanta, which snapped a three-game slide. Anthony Tolliver netted 21 points off the bench in the triumph. Jrue Holiday tallied 11 points and 12 assists for the slumping Sixers, who have dropped 11 of their last 13 tilts. Damien Wilkins recorded 21 points off the bench in defeat. Philly lost its 11th straight road game, the longest such streak since a 20-game slide from Dec. 28, 1987-March 4, 1988.

Final Score: New York 87, Detroit 77
Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - J.R. Smith scored nine of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Carmelo Anthony-less New York Knicks beat the Detroit Pistons, 87-77, on Wednesday. Smith went 4-of-11 from beyond the arc for the Knicks, who outscored Detroit by a 22-12 margin in the final 12 minutes. Raymond Felton made four 3-pointers en route to 26 points, while Amare Stoudemire tallied 22 points and nine rebounds. Anthony was held out of the game due to a right knee injury suffered Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Brandon Knight ended with 17 points for the Pistons, who went 0-4 against the Knicks this season and have lost seven straight overall in the series. Jason Maxiell and Kyle Singler donated 14 and 13 points, respectively. Jose Calderon had 10 points and 16 assists for Detroit, which has lost three in a row and six of seven. Jonas Jerebko tallied 12 points. The Pistons were without head coach Lawrence Frank (personal) and Greg Monroe (ankle). Assistant coach Brian Hill took over for Frank.

Final Score: Miami 97, Orlando 96
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - LeBron James just wouldn't let Miami's winning streak end, even after the Heat blew a 20-point lead against one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference. James knifed through the lane for a left- handed layup with 3.2 seconds left to boost the Heat to a 97-96 victory over the Orlando Magic. The reigning league MVP had 26 points, as the Heat extended a franchise-record with their 16th consecutive win. Dwyane Wade tallied 24 points, but the Heat had to overcome a great game from Nikola Vucevic. The second-year forward had 25 points and 21 rebounds, but the Magic faltered for the 21st time in their last 24 games. The Heat won despite shooting 4-of-17 from the field in the fourth quarter. That included an 0-of-8 showing from beyon the arc. James' layup was the only bucket for the Heat in the final seven minutes.

Final Score: Memphis 91, Portland 85
Memphis, TN (Sports Network) - Marc Gasol scored 23 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 91-85 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. Mike Conley added 20 points and six assists and Jerryd Bayless had 13 points off the bench for the Grizzlies, who have won 10 of their last 11 games. Damian Lillard scored 20 points and J.J. Hickson had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Blazers, who had won three of their last four entering the contest. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 10 points and pulled down 10 boards in the setback.

Final Score: Minnesota 87, Washington 82
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - Derrick Williams had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to an 87-82 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. Ricky Rubio recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists for the Timberwolves, who snapped a six-game losing streak. Luke Ridnour also scored 15 points, while J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham had 12 and 11 points, respectively, off the bench. John Wall had a game-high 19 points and dished out seven assists for the Wizards, who had won four of their last six games entering the contest. Trevor Ariza registered 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Emeka Okafor had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Final Score: LA Lakers 108, New Orleans 102
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant and Jodie Meeks carried Los Angeles to a stunning fourth-quarter comeback, as the Lakers escaped New Orleans with a miraculous 108-102 triumph over the Hornets. Bryant and Meeks combined for 30 points in the fourth quarter, which began with New Orleans leading by 18. Despite playing with a sore elbow, Bryant netted 42 points, 18 coming over a final 12 minutes that saw the Lakers outscore a stunned Hornets club, 33-9. Bryant also dished out 12 assists, while Dwight Howard finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks, including a pivotal rejection of Robin Lopez down the stretch. Meeks scored 19 points for LA, which was in a daze from its double-digit loss at Oklahoma City on Tuesday before rallying. New Orleans led by as many as 25 in the first half, but did not score in the final 6:47 to drop its 10th straight meeting with the Lakers. Seven Hornets scored in double figures, led by Eric Gordon's 18 points.

Final Score: Dallas 112, Houston 108
Dallas, TX (Sports Network) - Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion netted 22 points apiece in the Dallas Mavericks' 112-108 win over the Houston Rockets. O.J. Mayo added 13 points, a career-high 12 assists and six rebounds for Dallas, which had dropped four of its last five contests coming in. The Mavericks have won six in a row against Houston in Big D and improved to 23-2 when Nowitzki scores at least 15 points. James Harden was 16-of-16 from the line and finished with 28 points for the Rockets, who had won four of their past six tilts prior to the opening tip.

Final Score: Toronto 98, Phoenix 71
Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) - DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Phoenix Suns, 98-71, on Wednesday. Sebastian Telfair had 13 points, seven assists and four steals while Jonas Valanciunas, Alan Anderson and Terrence Ross scored 10 points apiece for the Raptors, who snapped a five-game losing streak. Marcus Morris scored 12 points off the bench for the Suns, who had won three straight coming into the game. No other Phoenix player finished in double figures.

Final Score: San Antonio 101, Chicago 83
San Antonio, TX (Sports Network) - Tim Duncan filled the stat sheet with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, as the San Antonio Spurs used a strong second half to beat the Chicago Bulls, 101-83, on Wednesday. Manu Ginobili added 18 points and nine assists for the Spurs, who have won three in a row. Kawhi Leonard tallied 14 points and seven boards. Tiago Splitter donated 13 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio, which outscored Chicago by a 54-31 margin in the second half. Patty Mills also had 13 points. Marco Belinelli ended with 21 points and seven assists for the Bulls, who went 0-2 against the Spurs this season. Luol Deng added 19 points and seven rebounds.

Final Score: Golden State 87, Sacramento 83
Oakland, CA (Sports Network) - Klay Thompson had 20 points, including the go- ahead 3-pointer with 7.5 seconds left to lift the Golden State Warriors to an 87-83 win over the Sacramento Kings. On the go-ahead bucket, the Kings double-teamed Stephen Curry beyond the left wing. He passed the ball to the high post for David Lee, who quickly swung it to a wide-open Thompson in the right corner and he nailed the jumper to give Golden State an 85-83 edge. Tyreke Evans drove down the lane on Thompson at the other end, but his layup attempt off the glass was too strong and Draymond Green sunk two free throws to seal the outcome for Golden State. Lee finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Curry was limited to 13 points, but dished out eight helpers for the Warriors, who have own two straight on the heels of a four-game skid.

Final Score: LA Clippers 117, Milwaukee 101
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Blake Griffin recorded his first triple- double of the season to lead the Los Angeles Clippers over the Milwaukee Bucks, 117-101, at Staples Center. Griffin finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists and threw down an exclamation point on his all- around effort with another sensational dunk during a game-sealing run in the fourth quarter. Matt Barnes made six 3-pointers en route to a 20-point effort, Jamal Crawford chipped in 25 points and Chris Paul added 14 points and nine assists for the Clippers, who were coming off a home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Milwaukee had four won in a row coming in, but allowed the Clippers to shoot 54 percent from the field while getting outscored in the paint by a 52-36 margin. Monta Ellis scored 18 of his 22 points in the first half, Ersan Ilyasova followed with 20 points and Brandon Jennings donated 18 with 12 assists in the loss.

(Thursday, March 7th)
Final Score: Oklahoma City 95, New York 94
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Oklahoma City has brought the defensive intensity as of late. As a result, the Thunder have won six of their last seven games. Kevin Durant's go-ahead free throws late in the fourth quarter lifted Oklahoma City to a 95-94 win over the Carmelo Anthony-less New York Knicks. Durant, who had 34 points, eight rebounds and six assists, sunk two free throws with 1:38 remaining for the go-ahead points, and the Thunder clamped down defensively from there. Raymond Felton turned the ball over on the Knicks' ensuing possession, J.R. Smith followed by missing a 3-pointer, and Smith also misfired on a tough, contested fadeaway jumper from the left wing at the horn. New York netted just 13 points in the final frame. The Thunder had given up 113.7 points per contest during a three-game skid prior to their 6-1 stretch. OKC entered Thursday allowing 95.2 points per tilt on 40.8 percent shooting against its previous six opponents. Russell Westbrook added 21 points, six boards and five assists, while Kevin Martin netted 16 points off the bench in the victory. Anthony's knee injury cost him his second straight game. The injury canceled out a battle between the top two scorers in the NBA. Durant leads the NBA, while Anthony sits second. Smith took over the scoring duties in Anthony's absence and deposited 36 points for New York, which shot 40.7 percent from the floor. Amar'e Stoudemire and Felton chipped in 16 points apiece in defeat.

Final Score: Denver 107, LA Clippers 92
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Ty Lawson showed Chris Paul Thursday that he's a pretty good floor general too. Lawson had 21 points and 11 assists in the Denver Nuggets' 107-92 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Lawson did not turn the ball over and Danilo Gallinari added 20 points, five rebounds and six assists for Denver, which has won seven games in a row. The Nuggets improved to 27-3 at home, tied for the best mark in the league with the Miami Heat. Denver is two games behind Los Angeles in the loss column for the third seed in the Western Conference. Andre Iguodala finished with 14 points and seven helpers, Wilson Chandler and Andre Miller netted 12 points apiece off the bench and Kenneth Faried rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 in the triumph. Blake Griffin poured in 17 points and Paul registered 16 points and 10 assists for the Clippers, who had won five of their last six tilts coming in.

(Friday, March 8th)
Final Score: Oklahoma City 116, Charlotte 94
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Kevin Durant totaled 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds and the Thunder once again routed the Charlotte Bobcats in a 116-94 victory on Friday. Much like the last encounter, when Oklahoma City handed the Bobcats their worst loss in franchise history back on Nov. 26, the Thunder starters weren't needed by the time the fourth quarter came around. Russell Westbrook scored 11 points and the Thunder received three 3-pointers and 13 points apiece from Derek Fisher and Thabo Sefolosha in the team's seventh win in eight games. Gerald Henderson finished with a game-high 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting, but the Bobcats dropped their ninth in a row and 22nd in 24 games at home.

Final Score: Indiana 115, Orlando 86
Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - Paul George made four 3-pointers en route to 25 points as the Indiana Pacers dominated the Orlando Magic, 115-86, on Friday. Tyler Hansbrough added 18 points and six rebounds for the Pacers, who bounced back from a tough loss to the Celtics on Wednesday. D.J. Augustin made four 3- pointers for 14 points, George Hill added 11 points and Lance Stephenson and Roy Hibbert each donated 10 in the victory. Indiana shot 51.8 percent from the floor and went 11-of-19 from beyond the arc. Arron Afflalo had 19 points to pace the Magic, who have lost seven straight at home. Nikola Vucevic and Beno Udrih tallied 12 points apiece.

Final Score: Brooklyn 95, Washington 78
Brooklyn, NY (Sports Network) - Deron Williams had a first quarter to remember and finished with a Nets record 11 3-pointers, as Brooklyn cruised past the Washington Wizards, 95-78, at Barclays Center. Williams set an NBA record with nine 3-pointers in the first half, including a 7-for-7 effort in the game's first eight minutes. Behind Williams' 42-point effort, the Nets led by as many as 27 and ended a three-game skid at home with relative ease despite scoring just 36 points in the second half. Reggie Evans pulled down a career-high 24 rebounds and, along with Brook Lopez, was Brooklyn's next highest scorer with 11 points. The Wizards have dropped two in a row since star rookie Bradley Beal went down with an ankle injury. Unlike Williams, they were 3-of-17 from behind the arc and shot 36 percent overall. John Wall led the way with 16 points, while Nene and Kevin Seraphin chipped in 11 apiece in the setback.

Final Score: Memphis 103, Cleveland 92
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Marc Gasol scored 22 points on 11-of-16 shooting and added eight rebounds and five assists to help the Memphis Grizzlies to a 103-92 decision over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday at Quicken Loans Arena. Mike Conley had 17 points, 11 assists and five steals for the Grizzlies, who have won three straight and 11 of their last 12 games overall. Jerryd Bayless also had 17, while Ed Davis contributed 12 points and nine boards in the victory. Kyrie Irving, who was doubtful prior to the game because of an undisclosed illness, finished with a game-high 24 points. CJ Miles had 13 points and Tristan Thompson recorded a double- double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who have lost three of four.

Final Score: Dallas 102, Detroit 99
Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) - O.J. Mayo led seven Dallas players in double figures with 22 points, and the Mavericks wasted a 15-point fourth- quarter lead, but topped the Detroit Pistons, 102-99, Friday night. Brandan Wright chipped in 14 points, while Dirk Nowitzki and Mike James each chipped in 12 points. Nowitzki hit the go-ahead jumper with 2:08 remaining, as the Mavericks won for the third time in four games. Brandon Knight had 21 points for the Pistons, losers of four in a row and seven of eight. Charlie Villanueva, who scored 12, had a chance to force overtime, but his left corner 3-pointer clanked off the rim as time expired.

Final Score: Boston 107, Atlanta 102 (OT)
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Jason Terry made a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left in overtime to lift the Boston Celtics over the Atlanta Hawks, 107-102. Terry scored Boston's final five points in overtime and finished the game with 19 points. Paul Pierce added 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Celtics, who pushed their home winning streak to nine games Friday. Kevin Garnett donated 17 points and eight boards for Boston, which has won five in a row overall. Jeff Green tallied 12 points. Josh Smith ended with 32 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for the Hawks, who have dropped four of five. Jeff Teague had 26 points and Al Horford recorded a double- double with 22 points and 13 boards.

Final Score: Chicago 89, Utah 88
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Marco Belinelli capped a sharp shooting performance by burying the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final seconds, lifting the Chicago Bulls to a 89-88 victory over the Utah Jazz at United Center. Belinelli scored 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting and kept his foot just behind the arc on his third triple of the night to give the Bulls a one-point edge with 5.9 seconds remaining. Carlos Boozer also had 22 points in addition to 10 rebounds to help Chicago snap out of a two-game skid. Nate Robinson chipped in with 14 points, seven assists and six boards in the victory. Gordon Hayward appeared to slip prior to taking Utah's final shot, which came up short. Al Jefferson returned after missing three games with a sprained ankle to score 23 points, but the Jazz ultimately dropped their third straight game.

Final Score: Miami 102, Philadelphia 93
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - The Miami Heat have already clinched a spot in the playoffs. The Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter Friday to earn their 17th straight win, this time a 102-93 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers to mark the earliest date they have ever earned a postseason berth. LeBron James totaled 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists and scored six points on a pivotal run early in the final frame that turned a close contest into an inevitable outcome -- a 13th straight win over the struggling Sixers. Dwyane Wade chipped in 22 points and Chris Bosh added 16 in the victory. Thaddeus Young led Philadelphia with 25 points, Dorell Wright followed with 14 and Spencer Hawes finished with 13 points and 10 boards in Philadelphia's 12th consecutive road loss.

Final Score: Portland 136, San Antonio 106
San Antonio, TX (Sports Network) - Damian Lillard scored a game-high 35 points and dished out nine assists as the Portland Trail Blazers earned a convincing 136-106 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday. LaMarcus Aldridge followed with 26 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the floor and J.J. Hickson added 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who have won four of six. Portland also took the season series with the victory -- en route to scoring the most points against the Spurs in San Antonio since Nov. 7, 1990 vs. Denver. HemisFair Arena was the home of the Spurs at the time. Tim Duncan had 18 points and eight boards for the Spurs, who had a three-game winning streak come to an end. Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili added 16 points apiece in the setback.

Final Score: Sacramento 121, Phoenix 112
Sacramento, CA (Sports Network) - Isaiah Thomas led five Sacramento players in double-figures with 27 points, six assists and five steals as the Kings edged the Phoenix Suns, 121-112, on Friday at Sleep Train Arena. Tyreke Evans netted 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting -- including 4-of-6 from 3-point range -- for the Kings, who saw their two-game losing streak come to an end en route to snapping a six-game skid versus Phoenix. Marcus Thornton added 23 points and five 3-pointers and DeMarcus Cousins contributed to the balanced attack with 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 of which on the defensive end, and seven assists in the much-needed victory. Both players shot an efficient 9-of-13 from the floor. Michael Beasley scored 24 points and Goran Dragic had 17 and 16 assists for the Suns, who have lost their last two following a three- game winning streak. Wesley Johnson contributed 19 points in the setback.

Final Score: Houston 94, Golden State 88
Oakland, CA (Sports Network) - James Harden shook off a rough shooting night and sealed the win at the foul line, as the Houston Rockets earned another victory over the Golden State Warriors, 94-88, at Oracle Arena. Harden was limited to 3-of-17 from the field and the Rockets shot a meager 37 percent overall. They didn't make a field goal over the final 4 1/2 minutes, but ended the game on an 8-2 run via free throws to earn their third win in the last four games. Harden finished with 20 points and 11 assists, while Chandler Parsons made six 3-pointers en route to a team-high 26 points. The Warriors have dropped all three meetings with Houston this season and fell to 2-1 on their seven-game homestand. Stephen Curry had 24 points and eight assists, Klay Thompson followed with 22 points and David Lee battled through a knee contusion to net 16 points in the loss.

Final Score: LA Lakers 118, Toronto 116 (OT)
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant finished with 41 and 12 assists, as the Lakers overcame the Toronto Raptors, 118-116, in overtime at Staples Center. Bryant dribbled by Aaron Gray and raced in for a two-handed, tie-breaking dunk with 10.6 seconds left in OT, and the Lakers got a reprieve at the end when Rudy Gay missed a potential tying jumper. Bryant, who overcame nine turnovers, hit a trio of big 3-pointers in the closing two minutes of regulation. That included a spectacular shot that tied the game at 109 with 5.5 seconds remaining. Gay then missed a jumper that would have given Toronto the win. Dwight Howard totaled 24 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks, as the Lakers won their 10th in a row at home against the Raptors. They also got revenge for a 108-103 loss at Toronto on Jan. 20. DeMar DeRozan ended with 28 points for the Raptors, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.
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