Spurs, Bulls and Cavaliers get statement wins as Pelicans, Suns continue to fall behind in Playoff race
A busy Wednesday night in the NBA as 26 teams took the court with just less than 3 weeks remaining for the 2015 Playoffs to commence. Multiple teams are very close to gaining or losing spots on the Conference ranking in the East and West. The East has four teams battling for the eight and final spot for the post-season meanwhile in the West the Oklahoma City Thunder are nursing a 3 game lead over the Phoenix Suns and the New Orleans Pelicans.
Here’s the match report and summary of a 13 game Wednesday:
Oklahoma City Thunder vs San Antonio Spurs
After a rough December and below par Rodeo road trip, defending champions, San Antonio Spurs have not been on a long winning streak but have looked good as we come closer and closer to the Playoffs. Playing host to an in-form Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, the Spurs made a huge statement by defeating the Thunder 130-91, outscoring their opponents by 17 in the second quarter.
OKC didn’t go much wrong committing 10 turnovers, quite good by NBA standards but the huge gap between the teams came in the shooting from the field.
|Field Goal Percentage||3-point Percentage||Free-throw Percentage|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||40%||33%||93%|
|San Antonio Spurs||58%||62%||80%|
Westbrook was restricted to just 16 points on 5 of 16 shooting with 4 turnovers and a game worst ‘-30’ in the +/- column. With their leader struggling, The thunder failed to get going and were never competitive in the second half. Ennes Kanter (16 points, 10 rebounds) double double was the only silver lining for the team.
On the other hand for the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard (14 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists) and Tony Parker (21 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists) had excellent all-round games to grab the win and stay ahead of the Dallas Mavericks in the standings at 6th.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Memphis Grizzlies
Coming into the game, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were looking to win their fourth in a row and 15 of their last 16 but it would be easier said than done against the Memphis Grizzlies, a Playoff team who is second in the West. However the team wrapped it up early, entering the fourth quarter with a lead of 25 and eventually winning 111-89.
Despite committing 10 turnovers more, the Cavs won the game with their shooting. They shot a much better percentage than their opponents as all their starters finished in double figures. With this win, Cleveland can look ahead to an easy schedule with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards being their only above .500 opponents.
The Grizzlies shot poorly from three-point land (24%) and free throw line (69%) and couldn’t cash in on Cleveland’s 18 turnovers. They did not play like the second seed in the West and this loss leaves them with only a two game lead over third seed Houston Rockets, who just welcomed Dwight Howard back.
Houston Rockets vs New Orleans Pelicans
This was an important game for both teams. For Houston, Dwight Howard returned after missing over two months of action while New Orleans need wins to keep their Playoff hopes alive. Nevertheless in a cracker of a game, MVP candidate James Harden carried the Rockets over the Pelicans 95-93 with a double double of 25 points and 10 assists.
Superstar Anthony Davis contributed 24 points and 14 rebounds, Tyreke Evans had 28 points and 7 assists, but it wasn’t enough as the Pelicans continued to slip away from the Thunder in the race for the last Playoff spot in the West. They are currently trailing OKC by 4.5 games and are now 10th with the Phoenix Suns going ahead of them.
Toronto Raptors vs Chicago Bulls
Taj Gibson is slowly but steadily getting back into rhythm, Jimmy Butler is back to his normal minutes and Derrick Rose is practising without pain before games. The Chicago Bulls have a tough road ahead in the season and the Playoffs but they would be backing themselves with their key players making a return.The Bulls swept the season series with the Toronto Raptors defeating them 116-103.
The Raptors have been hurting with their All-Star Kyle Lowry dealing with back spasms. They have struggled in his absence and this game was no different despite keeping it close for the first three quarters. They were outscored 39-21 in the fourth quarter which cost them the game. DeMar Derozan (20 points) has looked in touch but has failed to lead the team to W’s.
Here’s how the rest of the results came by:
Brooklyn Nets  vs Charlotte Hornets 
Los Angeles Clippers  vs New York Knicks 
Atlanta Hawks  vs Orlando Magic 
Indiana Pacers  vs Washington Wizards 
Miami Heat  vs Boston Celtics 
Los Angeles Lakers  vs Minnesota Timberwolves 
Philadelphia 76ers  vs Denver Nuggets 
Portland Trialblazers  vs Utah Jazz 
Sacramento Kings  vs Phoenix Suns 
DeAndre Jordan’s monster poster slam on Jason Smith is the Top Play of the Day: