The NBA Roundup: April 14, 2013

The Lakers won maybe the biggest game of the year so far, beating the Spurs to gain the inside track in nailing the eighth and final Playoff spot in the West. In other news, New York sealed the second seed with a win over Indiana while Houston moved up to 6th by upending the Kings.

Today’s Best:
  •        How about Dwight Howard and Steve Blake… YES STEVE EFFIN’ BLAKE… stepping up for the hard-luck Lakers, who suddenly find themselves just a win away from formalizing their Playoff entry. Big Dwight got 26 points, 17 rebounds, and 3 blocks, while Blake finished with 23 points on 50% FG shooting.
  •        Andre Iguodala flirted with a triple-double in Denver’s victory over Portland. AI filled the sheets with 28 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 blocks in a virtuoso performance.
  •        James Harden continued to impress heading into the Rockets’ final regular season game against the Lakers. In this match versus the Kings, Harden had 29 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block.
Steve Blake stepped up as the Lakers upset the Spurs.
(image by Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Today’s Worst:
  •        How about Brook Lopez shooting 7-of-19 from the floor in Brooklyn’s loss to Toronto? Baaaaad.
  •        I love Pau Gasol hauling 17 rebounds against Tim Duncan, but his 3-of-17 FG shooting is pretty cringe-worthy.
  •        Eric Gordon continues to hurt his market value, shooting 7-of-17 from the field and turning the ball over thrice against the Mavs.

Final Score: Miami 105, Chicago 93
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade leading the way, the Miami Heat got some payback against the Chicago Bulls with a 105-93 victory at American Airlines Arena. Less than three weeks after dropping a 101-97 decision to the Bulls in Chicago that ended their near-record 27-game win streak, the Heat doled out a measure of revenge by shooting 51.4 percent from the field and rarely trailing en route to a sixth consecutive victory and 36th at home this season, a new franchise best. James put up 24 points along with seven rebounds and six assists, with Wade adding 22. Chris Andersen contributed a season-high 15 points off the bench in the triumph, with Mario Chalmers also scoring 15 points for Miami. The Bulls had six players finish in double figures, topped by Luol Deng's 19 points, but shot just 35.4 percent as a team on the way to a fourth loss in five outings. The setback dropped Chicago a full game behind Atlanta for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference with two to play in the regular season. Carlos Boozer amassed 16 points and 20 rebounds in a losing cause, with Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson each ending with 14 points for the Bulls.

Final Score: New York 90, Indiana 80
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points without playing in the fourth quarter and the New York Knicks clinched the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 90-80 triumph over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. After suffering a left shoulder contusion late in the third, Anthony sat the rest of the way with the Knicks comfortably in front the entire final frame. Chris Copeland scored 20, J.R. Smith had 15 and Raymond Felton chipped in 11 for the red-hot Knicks, winners in 15 of their last 16 games. They assured themselves home court advantage through the Eastern Conference semifinals and a first round showdown with the Boston Celtics. Lance Stephenson scored a team-high 22 points for the Pacers, who have struggled down the stretch by dropping four of five. However, they clinched the No. 3 seed in the East after Brooklyn fell to Toronto on Sunday. David West finished with 17 points and eight rebounds and Jeff Pendergraph scored 12 off the bench in the setback.

Final Score: Philadelphia 91, Cleveland 77
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Dorell Wright led six Philadelphia players in double figures with 15 points as the 76ers rolled to a 91-77 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young scored 14 points apiece and Damien Wilkins finished with 11 for the Sixers, winners in two straight. Arnett Moultrie added 10 points off the bench in the win. Tristan Thompson, Wayne Ellington and Marreese Speights poured in 12 points apiece for the Cavs, and Kevin Jones turned in his first-career double- double with 11 points and 10 boards.

Final Score: Toronto 93, Brooklyn 87
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - DeMar DeRozan scored 36 points and the Toronto Raptors held off a second-half comeback attempt from the Brooklyn Nets to earn a 93-87 victory at Air Canada Center. DeRozan finished 12-of-22 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point range to lead the Raptors to a third straight win and fifth in six games, with Rudy Gay contributing a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds to the triumph. The Raptors had a 21-point first-half lead cut down to two with 4 1/2 minutes left to play, but DeRozan and Gay combined for 15 of Toronto's final 16 points to thwart the rally and hand Brooklyn a loss that locked the Nets into the No. 4 seed for the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs. Deron Williams triggered Brooklyn's late charge by recording 22 of his 30 points after halftime, with Brook Lopez adding 16 points and Reggie Evans pulling down a game-high 16 rebounds. Joe Johnson had 12 points for the Nets, who had won four in a row coming in, but hit on just 4-of-16 field goal attempts.

Final Score: Denver 118, Portland 109
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Andre Iguodala filled the stat sheet with 28 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals in the Denver Nuggets' 118-109 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Evan Fournier added 24 points for the Nuggets, who have won six of their last seven tilts and are a game ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers for the third seed in the Western Conference. Damian Lillard netted 30 points with six assists, but turned the ball over eight times for Portland, which has dropped 11 straight games.

Final Score: Dallas 107, New Orleans 89
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Dirk Nowitzki can finally shave that gnarly beard. Nowitzki and several Mavericks teammates vowed in February they would let their facial hair grow until Dallas' record reached the .500 mark, which had not been done since Dec. 12. Hitting that goal came later than planned with the postseason already out of reach, but Dallas completed it with Sunday's 107-89 victory over the Hornets. Shawn Marion scored 21 points, Nowitzki added 19 and Brandan Wright and Vince Carter had 16 apiece for the Mavs, who have won four of their last five. Ryan Anderson paced the Hornets with 20 points and 12 rebounds in the club's fourth straight loss.

Final Score: Houston 121, Sacramento 100
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - James Harden scored 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field and dished out nine helpers as Houston crushed the Sacramento Kings, 121-100, on Sunday in the team's regular season home finale. Jeremy Lin poured in 11 points during a decisive third quarter and finished with 15 for the Rockets, who bounced back from a home loss versus Memphis on Friday to win for the second time in their last three games. Carlos Delfino had 14 points, Omer Asik recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds and Chandler Parsons returned from a four-game absence due to strained calf muscle to donate 13 points and five assists in the victory. Houston now holds the sixth spot in the Western Conference and shares the same record as Golden State, but owns the head-to-head tiebreaker after winning the season series 3-1. Travis Outlaw led Sacramento with 15 points and Cole Aldrich added 12 points and 12 boards for the Kings, who have lost three straight and six of their last seven.

James Harden and the Rockets went up to sixth spot after beating Sacramento.
(image Patric Schneider/AP)

Final Score: LA Lakers 91, San Antonio 86
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Injuries have been the Achilles heel for the Los Angeles Lakers this year. But losing their fearless leader for the season and the next 6-to-9 months was a devastating blow. In the thick of the playoff race, the Lakers earned a much-needed 91-86 win over the San Antonio Spurs in their first game without Kobe Bryant following his Achilles injury. The 34-year-old Bryant tore the Achilles tendon in his left leg in the fourth quarter of Friday's 118-116 victory over the Golden State Warriors. Bryant underwent surgery Saturday. Los Angeles is 1 1/2 games ahead of the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference with one left to go. The Jazz still have two contests left and hold the tiebreaker. Dwight Howard tallied 26 points and 17 rebounds, while Steve Blake added 23 points for the Lakers, who have won four straight and six of their last seven tilts. Tim Duncan registered 23 points and 10 boards for San Antonio, which trails the Oklahoma City Thunder by a game for the top seed in the West.

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