LA Lakers 94, Orlando 96: Fantastic game. Kobe (34 points on 30 shots) missed a jumper at the buzzer and the Lakers have lost three in a row. Other than Dwight Howard’s thunderous dunk while being hammered by Pau Gasol (after the jump), the highlight had to be the incessant squabbling between Kobe and Matt Barnes (best moments in the video: 1:01, 2:15). Howard had 15 points and 16 boards and tussled with Gasol (20-11) a few times. It’s probably just this road trip, but the Lakers look a step slower than they did while dominating the league in December and January. Vince Carter torched Ron Artest for 25. Still think the Magic need to work Brandon Bass into the rotation, somehow.
Philadelphia 114, Toronto 101: The 76ers hit 9-of-12 three’s and shot 55 percent from the field to win on the road. The Raptors were without Hedo (ankle). Thaddeus Young, who has one of the sweetest lefty perimeter shots in the league – a young Lamar Odom? – scored a career-high 32.
Oklahoma City 108, Sacramento 102: The Thunder have 20 games left to avoid the Nuggets/Mavericks in the first round (not being either of them). They play Utah twice, plus Dallas, Denver and the Lakers, too. The two ideal scenarios are to slide to the 8th seed to play Kobe in the first round, or get the 4/5 seed (just a half-game behind Phoenix for the fifth spot) and then hopefully beat the Jazz in the first round and then play the Lakers in the second round. Problem with that second scenario is that the Lakers wouldn’t have to go through Dallas and Denver, because one would be knocked out in the semis.
Houston 107, Detroit 110: And … the Rockets appear done. Detroit rallied from down eight with three minutes left to force OT, and then beat the Rockets to drop ’em to .500. Trevor Ariza missed the game (hip) but Aaron Brooks took it upon himself to hoist 23 shots including a ton of ill-advised three-pointers that left Rick Ademan unhappy. The lone sliver of good news: Jordan Hill, the rookie they just got from the Knicks, had 12 points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes.
Washington 83, Boston 86: Boston closed the game on a 20-4 run as the Wizards blew a 13-point lead in the final six minutes. Here’s what Wiz coach Flip Saunders had to say about it: “Well we choked. Six minutes to go we’re up thirteen. We got young guys, they don’t know what it’s like to be in a situation. We [Andray Blatche, specifically] start talking to Garnett, start talking trash and everything else. Got Garnett and those guys juiced up and we just pissed down our leg the last six minutes.” KG shot 0-for-7 in 32 minutes; Blatche had 23 points.