An interesting Thursday night of NBA basketball included the Los Angeles Clippers perhaps revealing the blueprint for stopping the small-ball Houston Rockets, and the long-awaited return of Stephen Curry in Golden State Warriors uniform.
Denver Nuggets 114 Charlotte Hornets 112
This is definitely a difficult patch of the season for the Nuggets. Their recent patchy form has raised questions about the team’s ability to go far in the playoffs. Is this a win that removes some of the fears? Probably not. And yet Jamal Murray taking the winning shot in a strong 18 points, 6 assists performance has to be a little bit encouraging.
Los Angeles Clippers 120 Houston Rockets 105
The Clippers create some distance from the chasing Rockets with this win. The scoreline actually compliments the Rockets, basically out of the game since early in the second quarter. The Clippers used their defensive variety to show the Rockets an interesting look – no help on James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but denying clean looks from three. Houston shot 7-for-42 from downtown, including 0-for-8 by Harden. Kawhi Leonard led the Clips with 25 points, helped by Montrezl Harrell adding 19.
Philadelphia 76ers 125 Sacramento Kings 108
A blow to the Kings’ playoff aspirations, while the Sixers found new ways to win without Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Tobias Harris scored 28 points and Shake Milton added 20 for Philly, now 2.5 games behind the Miami Heat. Remember – home advantage is crucial for Philly, with a 28-2 record at home and only 10-23 away.
Toronto Raptors 121 Golden State Warriors 113
How was Stephen Curry in his return to basketball, missing since October? Not bad. 23 points and 7 assists with 3-for-12 from three, including 0-for-5 on uncontested shots. The real standout in this game was Norman Powell, who has been red hot since his return. Powell scored 37 points and played some fantastic defense on Curry. The Raps improve to 1.5 games ahead of the Celtics in the battle for 2nd in the East.
Eastern Conference Standings
|13||New York Knicks||19||43||.306||34.0||62|
Teams in bold have clinched a playoff spot.
Western Conference Standings
|1||Los Angeles Lakers||47||13||.783||–||60|
|2||Los Angeles Clippers||43||19||.694||5.0||62|
|6||Oklahoma City Thunder||38||24||.613||10.0||62|
|9||Portland Trail Blazers||28||35||.444||20.5||63|
|11||San Antonio Spurs||26||34||.433||21.0||60|
|12||New Orleans Pelicans||26||36||.419||22.0||62|
|15||Golden State Warriors||14||49||.222||34.5||63|
Standings via Wikipedia