NBA: Lakers’ race to catch up remains uncrowned

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a narrow defeat against the New York Knicks. A late 8-0 run had put the Lakers within reach of a win. Nikola Jokic hits a triple double but loses with Denver to the Brooklyn Nets. Joel Embiid leads his 76ers to a comfortable win against Washington.

The Cavaliers turn the game in Charlotte. Trey Murphy sets up a career high and scores nine threes in the process. The Oklahoma City Thunder win without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Denver Nuggets (46-22) – Brooklyn Nets (39-29) 120:122 (BOXSCORE)

  • Although the Nets were no longer treated as a postseason candidate by many observers after the trade deadline, they still have a good chance of going directly into the playoffs. They also demanded everything from the Denver Nuggets, but at halftime they were still behind by 61:69.
  • In the third quarter, which ended 37:18 for the Nets, they even dominated the best team in the west. In this segment, the Nuggets hit only 26.3 percent of their throws (5/19). Jamal Murray in particular did not get his chance in this phase as usual, only hit 2 of 10 shots and ended the game with 16 points (5/19 FG).
  • It was thanks to Nikola Jokic that the end was exciting again. He scored several times near the basket, but 41 seconds before the end he only hit one of his two free throws. A second goal would have meant the equalizer. His three-point attempt with 1.1 seconds on the game clock was a rather hopeless undertaking in view of the remaining playing time. Nevertheless, Jokic shone with a triple double of 35 points, 20 rebounds and 11 assists. Michael Porter Jr. helped him with 23 points (9/12 FG).
  • In the Nets, seven players scored double digits: Mikal Bridges did best with 25 points. Spencer Dinwiddie probably had the most impressive stat line with 15 points (5/15 FG) and 16 assists. Since he didn’t want to succeed from a distance (0/7 threes), he concentrated on putting his colleagues in the limelight. One of them was Nic Claxton, for example, who contributed 20 points.
  • The Denver Nuggets have now lost three games in a row and must give way to the Milwaukee Bucks (48-19) in particular in the race for the best record in the NBA.

Charlotte Hornets (22-48) – Cleveland Cavaliers (43-27) 108:114 (BOXSCORE)

  • At halftime, the Charlotte Hornets had a seven-point lead despite the game being a back-to-back for them and Darius Garland at the other end had amassed 19 points. In the end, the 23-year-old was the top scorer of the game with 28 points (10/13 FT). Donovan Mitchell had 23 points, Evan Mobley 18 points and 9 rebounds.
  • At the end of the third quarter, the Hornets had a 16-point lead, but the Cavaliers managed a late comeback thanks to a 27-10 run. 5:42 minutes before the end, the guests took the lead through a dunk by Mobley. Several ball losses by the Hornets then led to Cleveland no longer giving up the lead. Overall, the Hornets lost the ball 19 times and forced only 10 opposing turnovers.
  • At Charlotte, Terry Rozier was the defining figure with 27 points and 6 assists. PJ Washington scored 19 points, another factor was Nick Richards with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Dennis Smith Jr. scored 14 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and provided 7 assists.

Philadelphia 76ers (45-22) – Washington Wizards (31-37) 112:93 (BOXSCORE)

  • Another brilliant performance from Joel Embiid, who leads the NBA scorer list with 33.4 points per game. His 34 points (12/21 FG, 10/12 FT) against Washington are the rule and not the exception for him. He also had 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks. If he continues to perform like this until the end of the season, the MVP race has not yet been decided in favor of Nikola Jokic. Embiid’s team is currently also successful, against the Wizards there was the fifth win in a row. With 22 losses, the 76ers have lost as many games as the Denver Nuggets, who have played one game more.
  • James Harden appeared primarily as a passer and had 14 assists in the end, and he also scored 18 points. The 76ers’ third-best scorer was Tobias Harris with 11 points. Coach Doc Rivers could afford not to use Harden and Embiid in the fourth quarter as the Philadelphia reservists gradually increased their nearly double-digit lead. By the middle of the fourth quarter, the home side’s lead had grown to 25 points.
  • Corey Kispert scored 25 points (9/12 FG) for the Wizards, setting a new career high. Bradley Beal (13 points), Kyle Kuzma (12 points), and Kristaps Porzingis (9 points) all fell short of their season point averages. At least Kuzma was productive on the boards with 11 rebounds.

New Orleans Pelicans (33-35) – Portland Trail Blazers (31-37) 127:110 (BOXSCORE)

  • Damian Lillard missed the game with a calf problem. Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram (sprained ankle) were also absent. In this case, players from the second row had to seize the game. And Trey Murphy III did it with flying colors. Already after three quarters he had scored 39 points. At that point, his Pelicans were leading 109-73, which on the other hand didn’t speak for the Trail Blazers’ defense.
  • Murphy III only played briefly in the final section, scored his 40th and 41st points and was then sent off to a well-deserved end of the day with a standing ovation. Previously, not only had he set his career high, he was with him nine hit threes (in 14 attempts) also achieved another personal best.
  • CJ McCollum did well with 22 points (4/8 threes) and 11 assists. Josh Richardson scored 19 points, Herb Jones attracted attention with 16 points and 7 assists. The Pelicans finished the game with a strong three-pointer ratio of 47.5 percent (19/40), after their odds were even more impressive at 18-of-30.
  • Without their superstar, Portland were never close to victory, and after 12 minutes the hosts were already 17 points behind. The Trail Blazers’ offense was characterized by a lot of value, at most Anfernee Simons (17 points, 4 assists), Shaedon Sharpe (14 points, 3 assists) and Kevin Knox (14 points) were able to convince in the beginning.

San Antonio Spurs (17-50) – Oklahoma City Thunder (33-35) 90:102 (BOXSCORE)

  • The Thunder remain in contention for the Play-In ranks, beating the Spurs even without key player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was rested. Since the Knicks defeated the Lakers and the Pelicans won, four teams, ranked 9th through 12th, currently have the same record. Among them are the Thunder.
  • “It’s good to win when Shai doesn’t play,” said Jalen Williams after the win at Spurs. “It shows us that we’re doing the right thing and playing hard. We do a good job when we play together.”
  • Williams was the most conspicuous player on his team with 21 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds. Ousmane Dieng recorded a career high with 17 points, Josh Giddey supported his colleagues with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists.
  • Zach Collins (23 points, 11 rebounds) and Devonte’ Graham (20 points) led the Spurs in scoring while the team was missing their key leader in Keldon Johnson with foot pain. Both teams scored under 30 percent of their three-pointers and under 40 percent overall from the field, but Spurs had 19 turnovers and OKC just 9. That difference was ultimately crucial.
  • Early in the second quarter, the Thunder were 17 points ahead before Spurs got back into the game and equalized 59-59 shortly after the break. In the course of the Thunder, however, pulled away again without turning it into a clear victory.

Los Angeles Lakers (33-35) – New York Knicks (40-30) 108:112 (BOXSCORE)

  • In the first duel between the two teams in early February, the Knicks lost out in overtime. This time there was another thriller, at the end of which the Lakers narrowly missed their fourth home win in a row.
  • Julius Randle (33 points, 3/12 threes, 5 assists) and RJ Barrett (30 points, 12/27 FG, 1/8 threes) combined for more than half of all Knicks points. The Lakers never got a grip on the two forwards from the two-man area. In the absence of Jalen Brunson (foot injury), Immanuel Quickley (15 points) showed a solid game. Isaiah Hartenstein had 10 rebounds and 2 assists in 24 minutes. He also filled the box score 2 steals and 1 block, but he missed both of his throws.
  • At the Lakers, D’Angelo Russell made a strong game. The 27-year-old scored 33 points (13/19 FG) and gave 8 assists. Anthony Davis (17 points, 16 rebounds) set up a double double but lacked efficiency on the free throw line (1/5 FT). Dennis Schröder had 14 points (6/11 FG), but only 1 assist.
  • The Knicks were just in the lead most of the time. With 2:34 minutes left, RJ Barrett gave the Knicks a double-digit lead for the first time (110-100). However, the Lakers didn’t give up and made the game exciting again with an 8-0 run, but the burden was too big: With 5 seconds on the game clock, former Lakers guard Josh Hart made the victory clear with two free throws. The Lakers had to take credit for taking 14 seconds to commit a foul. So there was hardly any time to crown the race to catch up.

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