In case you were out enjoying your Sunday and didn’t happen to catch the full slate of NBA games, here’s what happened.
The Miami Heat overcame a double digit deficit to beat the Knicks.
14 games in a row, that makes. With the 99-93 win over New York at Madison Square Garden, Miami extended its lead in the Eastern Conference to 6.5 games, and have all but locked up the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. Heading into the game, most assumed the Heat would roll. Despite New York handling them with two huge wins in the previous two matchups, reality was likely to set back in; New York is a solid team, but Miami is Miami.
Then the second quarter happened. After Carmelo Anthony’s 17 points on 4-5 shooting in the first quarter, New York went on an 8-0 run to extend the lead to 59-43. But by the beginning of the 4th quarter, Miami had crawled back into it and was slowly edging out a faltering Knicks team. LeBron James hit multiple threes, New York turned the ball over twice down the stretch and what looked to be a third blowout swung the other way completely. LeBron was his usual spectacular self, reeling in 11 boards and handing out 7 assists on top of 29 points. There might have been an MVP discussion early in the season, but not anymore: LeBron James is seven heads and four shoulders above the fold.
The Los Angeles Lakers just won’t go away.
Credit Kobe Bryant for not letting his team completely collapse, or credit Dwight Howard for playing through a significant injury, or credit Mike D’Antoni because crediting the coach for immeasurable things is in vogue, but the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t given up on this season. With the 99-98 win over Atlanta, the Lakers have climbed all the way back to .500 and are only 2.5 games out of the 8th and final playoff spot. Kobe Bryant scored 34 points on 27 shots, Dwight Howard grabbed 15 boards and Steve Nash had 10 assists, and it took a final defensive stop for the Lakers to pull this one out.
Michigan held off Michigan State, barely.
Michigan’s Trey Burke led the way with 21 points, 8 assists and 5 steals. But the biggest play of the game came on the defensive end, the game tied at 56-56. MSU’s Keith Appling, who was protecting the ball as he wound the clock down for a final shot in regulation, let Burke slide over the top and poke the ball away, racing down the other way for an easy two-handed slam. But the game wasn’t quite sealed yet: after Derrick Nix was fouled with 8.8 seconds remaining in the game, he only managed to sink 1 of 2 free throws. Then MSU fouled Michigan’s Mitch McGary, who bricked the front end of a one and one. Trailing 58-57 and with the ball, Michigan State was unable to get a shot off as Michigan snuck out with a win.
Still, Michigan’s chances at a No. 1 seed for the tournament largely rest on their play in the Big Ten tournament. With so many quality teams in their conference this year, an early-round exit could spell trouble for seeding-wise. But with the overall parity in college basketball this year, the difference between a No. 1 and a No. 2 seed isn’t all that much anyway.