Knicks slip up but all three playoff rivals in West seal wins as race heats up.
It was a busy night in the NBA with no less than 14 games, but it was another missed opportunity for the Miami Heat to build a lead at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Cory Brewer held his nerve to hit a free-throw deep into overtime to seal the win with Kevin Love scoring 28 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for the Minnesota Timberwolves in their win at the AA Arena.
It was a real team effort from the visitors with production across the roster, but ultimately it will also feel like a missed opportunity for Miami who had 34 points from LeBron James.
The Indiana Pacers also suffered defeat on Friday which leaves the Heat (52-23) ahead on percentage points still with the Toronto Raptors doing them a favour.
Despite injury problems, the short-handed Raptors had 24 points from Terrence Ross as John Salmons insisted that they were “not going to back down from anybody” as the game turned physical.
Jonas Valaciunas added 22 points and nine rebounds as Kyle Lowry sat out again, while DeMar DeRozan scored 20 points and had nine assists for the hosts.
In contrast, it was a disappointing night for the New York Knicks, as not only did they suffer a loss at home against the Washington Wizards, but the Atlanta Hawks took back the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
J.R. Smith had 32 points on the night but it was Bradley Beal’s late jumper which made the difference as Carmelo Anthony committed nine turnovers as he conceded he is dealing with an ailing shoulder.
Nevertheless, the Hawks made no mistake in dealing the Cavs a blow as well as their nearest rivals, with the victory moving them a game ahead of the Knicks with just seven more to go in the regular season.
After ending the San Antonio Spurs’ 19-game streak on Thursday, the Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t follow it up with a win over the Houston Rockets, as despite Kevin Durant equalling Michael Jordan’s 40-game run of scoring 25 points or more, they lost out to 39 points from James Harden.
However, the big race for the final few playoff spots in the West is promising to go down to the wire as the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies all won on Friday.
Despite their impressive win in Portland against the Trail Blazers, Phoenix remain just outside of the top eight as Memphis and Dallas beat the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers respectively.
However, the Grizzlies and Suns remain tied at 45-31, and it will likely go down to the final few games of the season to determine the final playoff picture in the West.
Denver Nuggets 92-100 Memphis Grizzlies
Orlando Magic 80-91 Charlotte Bobcats
Indiana Pacers 94-102 Toronto Raptors
Cleveland Cavaliers 98-117 Atlanta Hawks
Philadelphia 76ers 111-102 Boston Celtics
Detroit Pistons 104-116 Brooklyn Nets
Minnesota Timberwolves 122-121 Miami Heat
Washington Wizards 90-89 New York Knicks
Milwaukee Bucks 90-102 Chicago Bulls
New Orleans Pelicans 96-100 Utah Jazz
Oklahoma City Thunder 107-111 Houston Rockets
Phoenix Suns 109-93 Portland Trail Blazers
Sacramento Kings 69-102 Golden State Warriors
Dallas Mavericks 107-95 Los Angeles Lakers