Russell Westbrook and James Harden celebrate big victory (Reuters)
After the successful rehearsal night, the second day of the NBA games after the Corona break, they set off tonight (Friday through Saturday), with the Houston and Dallas hotspots providing another battle for the Pantheon in the prestigious fight for the Texas premiere.
Dallas (28:40) – Houston (24:41) 153: 149
In the main battle of the night it was the duo of James Harden and Russell Westbrook who surpassed Kristpas Prosingis and Luka Doncic on the other side, after 53 close and dramatic minutes of great basketball. After a quarter developed offensive and defenseless that ended in a draw (42:42) the Mavericks took the lead and went down to the break with a score that would not embarrass an entire game in Europe (75:85). The double-digit advantage was also maintained in the promotion to the decisive quarter, but the Rockets were far from giving up and although 48 seconds Doncic stitched a three that set 131: 138 and seemed to end the story, Harden responded with a three of his own and here began the great drama.
5.2 To Buzzer Dallas went up to 136: 139, Harden went to the line, scored the first and deliberately missed the second, and the one who was there to send the game into overtime was Robert Covington with a big tip-off. The Mavericks were allowed to recover from losing the advantage in the next 5 minutes and the reds who smelled blood went out for a 0: 9 run that completed the great comeback and gave them a victory that will add a lot of spirit to the future.
Harden continued from the same spot where he stopped with the break that put up a typical stat line of 49 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists, and Westbrook was also passionate with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists. Doncic added another triple-double to the list with 28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, but neither he nor Prosingis (39 points and 16 rebounds) prevented a loss from Dallas.
Milwaukee (12:54) – Boston (22:43) 112: 119
The East leader provided another statement of intent ahead of the playoffs and came back to win after completing 3 consecutive losses before heading into the forced break. On the other hand, the Celtics had yet to secure a place in the quartet ahead of the playoffs and although they provided a worthy fight, they opened their way in a bubble in the left foot. During the first half the Bucks ran away with a double-digit advantage, but Boston knew how to get back and stay in the picture when in the last quarter the teams went up 87:87. Even 1:28 to end the scoreboard was still balanced (107: 107), but then the Bucks raised the level of intensity on defense and ran for 12 points on the other side to close the story.
Yannis Antocompo was 3 assists away from a triple-double when he scored 36 points and dropped no less than 15 rebounds, Chris Middleton added 18 points of his own. For the loser, 6 players scored in double digits with Marcus Smart leading from the bench with 23 points, Jaylen Brown slightly behind with 22.
Portland (37:30) – Memphis (34:32) 135: 140 (after overtime)
The Trailblazers kept the chance to qualify for the playoffs with a dramatic win over the team currently holding the eighth and final ticket on the Western side. Portland ran to 60:73 early in the 3rd quarter but at that point disappeared and the Grizzlies took advantage of that to turn around quickly and climbed to their own double-digit lead (83:94). The fickle battle continued and after Carmelo Anthony set up 122: 124 for the Reds-Blacks, Brandon Clark responded with his own layup and sent the game into overtime.
Portland opened the next 5 minutes in a frenzy with a 0:11 run and although 14 seconds to go Memphis was further reduced to 138: 135, the Trailblazers collected the victory that narrowed the gap between the teams to only 3 games. C.J. McCollum (33 points), Damian Lillard (29) and Anthony (21) led the winner, and Jamar Jackson Jr.’s 33 points were to no avail.
San Antonio (36:28) – Sacramento (37:28) 120: 129
The Spurs have kept a minimal chance of taking eighth place in the West, but Greg Popovich knows he will still need some kind of miracle so as not to end the experience in a bubble at the end of the regular season. The game went close, but in the final 3:00 minutes San Antonio picked up gear on the way to record a first V at Disney World. Damar D’Rozen stood out with a double-double of 27 points and 10 assists, 39 points from Aaron Fox did not help the Kings.
Washington (41:24) – Phoenix (39:27) 125: 112
The Suns opened the way in a bubble smoothly and returned to the winning track after an escape in the third quarter, which was enough to keep the lead until the finishing buzzer. All of the winner’s top five signed the game with double digits in the points column, with whoever led the list being Devin Booker with 27. Roy Hachimura stood out on the other side with 21 of his own.
Brooklyn (35:30) – Orlando (35:31) 128: 118
The Nets are expected to be one of the weakest teams in the “bubble”, after arriving without Spencer Dinwiddie and Diandra Jordan who decided to give up the end of the season, and of course without Kyrie Irving, and tonight we could see how weak the current Brooklyn is, already halfway to 11 digits. The gap that only grew, with the Magic leading already by 29 points and only a run by the Hunts at the end prevented them from a more painful defeat, when Orlando did not score a field goal in the last 7 minutes. Owen Fournier led the Magic scoring with 24 points, Nikola Wojciech dominated the color with 22 points and 7 rebounds.