Knicks and Anthony threatening a big final push to end season.
There were 11 games on the NBA schedule on Friday night, with the Indiana Pacers slipping to a third consecutive defeat after falling to the Houston Rockets.
Having suffered a heavy defeat to the Pacers earlier this season, the Rockets exacted the perfect revenge by inflicting the most lopsided loss of the year thus far for Indiana with James Harden starring.
Harden had 28 points as the Rockets used a huge third quarter to topple the leaders in the Eastern Conference, with both the star guard and Dwight Howard being rested for the final period such was their dominant lead.
“That’s all we talked about,” Howard said. “Every timeout and every possession. We wanted to get payback. It was good for us to come out (Friday) and stay on them for four quarters.”
The Pacers slip to 46-16 for the season while Houston improve to 43-19 as the Western Conference outfit obtained revenge for that 33-point loss back in December.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls slipped to defeat at home against the Memphis Grizzlies, with the visitors stifling their offense in a real battle between two physical defensive outfits.
Marc Gasol finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds as he came out on top in the fight with Joakim Noah, while the Bulls will now need to bounce back quickly with a difficult schedule ahead which sees them face the likes of Miami, San Antonio and Oklahoma City over the next week.
In contrast, the New York Knicks are showing signs of life and possibly a late push for a playoff spot with another impressive win on Friday night, this time at home to the Utah Jazz.
Carmelo Anthony had 29 points and eight assists to make it two wins in a row, although they will be fully aware that they need much more if they are to oust the likes of Atlanta from the post-season places.
“Last two games is, we had no choice,” coach Mike Woodson said. “Time is somewhat running out and every game is important.”
The Hawks meanwhile suffered a road loss to the Golden State Warriors with David Lee stealing the performer of the night award with 18 points and six rebounds.
Golden State are now 14 games above the .500 mark, and with a strong home run-in remaining, they will fancy their chances of improving further and grabbing a top seed in the West.
“We’re chasing greatness,” coach Mark Jackson said. “We’re not going to be satisfied. We’re going to continue to try to chalk up Ws, continue to battle and continue to celebrate where we are as a basketball team. It’s a great time. And if nobody else knows it, we know it.”
Memphis Grizzlies 85-77 Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers 92-101 Charlotte Bobcats
Sacramento Kings 87-99 Toronto Raptors
Brooklyn Nets 84-91 Boston Celtics
Utah Jazz 81-108 New York Knicks
Detroit Pistons 101-114 Minnesota Timberwolves
Milwaukee Bucks 104-112 New Orleans Pelicans
Portland Trail Blazers 98-103 Dallas Mavericks
Los Angeles Lakers 126-134 Denver Nuggets
Indiana Pacers 86-112 Houston Rockets
Atlanta Hawks 97-111 Golden State Warriors