The Nets can’t beat Giannis

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 118 – 134 PHOENIX SUNS

Devin Booker scored 31 points, Paul added a 23-point double-double with 16 assists and Phoenix scored the first 15 points of overtime to beat the decimated Cavaliers en route. The victory was the fifth in a row, keeping the Suns (47-18) on par with the Utah Jazz at the top of the Western Conference standings, but with the tiebreaker in their favor. Mikal Bridges made two 3-pointers, a basket, a block and an assist in the opening minutes of overtime and Phoenix outscored Cleveland 20-4 in the extra five minutes. The Suns blew a late regulation lead to Cleveland, where six players were missing, including injured starting point guard Darius Garland, but battled one of the NBA’s best teams for 50 minutes before releasing and losing. Cavs rookie Isaac Okoro scored 32 points and point guard Collin Sexton reached 29 points as leaders in the attack of the Cavaliers, who lost their seventh consecutive game.

DETROIT PISTONS 99 – 102 CHARLOTTE HORNETS

MILWAUKEE BUCKS 124 – 118 BROOKLYN NETS

The field advantage was again decisive and Giannis Antetokounmpo made the most of it with a contribution of a double-double of 36 points and 12 rebounds that helped the Bucks beat the Nets for the second consecutive game. The Bucks (41-24) took advantage of a rally in the fourth quarter to beat their rivals (43-23), who lost their third consecutive game and are one and a half games behind the Philadelphia Sixers (44-21), leaders of the Atlantic Division, and the Eastern Conference. While the Bucks, who secured their fifth consecutive playoff appearance, are a game and a half behind the Nets in the fight for second place and three from the Sixers. The Bucks are chasing their first NBA title since 1971. They scored the best NBA regular season record in 2018-19 and 2019-20, but they lost in the Eastern Conference finals two seasons ago and in the second round last year. Milwaukee blew a 10-point lead in the second half and trailed 97-103 with 10 minutes remaining, but responded with an 18-1 run. Brooklyn cut the margin to four with 1:02 left, but Antetokounmpo sank a pair of free throws and Jrue Holiday made a steal in the final minute that sealed the win. Holiday, who is getting bigger every day with his game, had a double-double of 23 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists. Donte DiVincenzo had a career-high 15 rebounds and finished with a double-double by also scoring 10 points. While Khris Middleton had 23 points and seven rebounds that also helped the Bucks win. Kyrie Irving with 38 points was the leading scorer for the Nets, who again lost the duel under the hoops with 39 rebounds to 55 for the Bucks. Kevin Durant had 32 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists, which also did not prevent the Nets from losing.

MIAMI HEAT 113 – 127 DALLAS MAVERICKS

Luka Doncic scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against the Florida team. The Mavericks tie with the Lakers and leave Portland in the play-in. Hardaway, 10 triples. Check the chronicle here.

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS 108 – 103 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

Lonzo Ball scored seven 3-pointers and capped a 33-point performance with a jump shot with 25.3 seconds left, followed by four personnel pitches in the final 15 seconds as the Pelicans beat the Warriors. The win was vital to the Pelicans’ aspirations to continue to fight for a spot in the Western Conference playoff entry tournament. Stephen Curry, who scored 37 points and hit eight 3-pointers, missed a jump shot from outside the perimeter that could have given the Warriors the advantage in the final 20 seconds. Mychal Mulder appeared to have a long offensive rebound on his hands when Zion Williamson stole it and took a clear free kick from Draymond Green. Williamson, who had a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds, made his free throws. The Warriors fouled Ball two more times after that, but Ball did not miss and New Orleans came within three games of a Western Conference starting position with six games to go. Ball’s big night came just 24 hours after he missed 15 of 18 shots from the field in Monday’s loss to the Warriors. After his last jump shot touchdown, he briefly turned toward the stands with his chest out. Point guard Eric Bledsoe scored 14 points and power forward Brandon Ingram reached 13 for the Pelicans. But Ingram, one of New Orleans’ leading scorers, went to the locker room with 4:39 minutes to go in the third quarter due to a sprained left ankle and did not return. Willy Hernangómez, with the return of Steven Adams to the starting position, did not play by decision of his coach, Stan Van Gundy. Andrew Wiggins scored 26 points and Green had 12 rebounds and 9 assists for the Warriors, who took the first of consecutive games in New Orleans on Monday night (108-123). But the Pelicans turned out to be much more competitive in the rematch game. Although Curry produced about the same pace as the night before, when he also made eight 3s and scored 41 points, New Orleans played better on offense, reducing Golden State’s chances of transition. The Pelicans also defended more effectively without the ball., preventing other players besides Curry from getting the kind of easy baskets they had hit on Monday night. Neither team led by double digits the entire game, but Golden State led for much of the second half before Ball helped lead a 29-18 streak to close out the game, tying the score with 3s twice on the final 3:18 minutes.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 99 – 103 SACRAMENTO KINGS

Luka Doncic had his best game since his arrival in the NBA and finished with 16 points. The Kings resist and are still alive in the fight for the play-in. Check the chronicle here.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS 105 – 100 TORONTO RAPTORS

Paul George and Marcus Morris each scored 22 points and led the Clippers’ attack, which beat the Raptors, and remain third in the Western Conference. George, who also grabbed 9 rebounds and delivered 4 assists, finished as the most complete player of the Angelenos (44-22), who have a half-game advantage over the Nuggets, who rested, and are fourth in the standings. Kawhi Leonard, in a new confrontation against his former team that he led to the league title, did not shine with the Clippers, but did his job by getting 13 points, 5 assists, also captured 3 rebounds and lost 3 balls. Fred VanVleet finished with a double-double of 27 points and 13 assists who left him as leader of the Raptors, but could not prevent the defeat that takes them away from the entry tournament to the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. While Pascal Siakam finished as the second highest scorer of his team by getting 24 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. The Raptors, with a 27-39 record, rank 11th in the Eastern Conference and they are 3.5 games behind the Wizards (30-35), tenth classified and last with the right to play the play-in. Nick Nurse’s men are six games short of the regular season, while the Wizards have seven left.