While the Indiana Pacers were able to survive a rollercoaster first three and half quarters against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night, one final scoring stretch and a trio of 30-plus-point performances proved too much for the Blue & Gold.
The Knicks (47-33) went on an 18-9 run in the final 4:34 to break open a tie game and escape with a 138-129 victory over the Pacers (34-46) at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. With the win, the Knicks hold a 3-0 season series lead over the Pacers.
Immanuel Quickley led all scorers with 39 points, Quentin Grimes recorded a career-best 36 points and Obi Toppin dropped in a season-best 32 points for the Knicks. Mitchell Robinson also had a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds.
The trio of offensive performances is just the third time in Knicks history that three players scored 30 or more points in a single game. It was the first time that happened for a Knicks team since March 24, 1979.
For Indiana, eight players scored in double figures, led by 19 points from Jalen Smith, 18 points by T.J. McConnell off the bench and 17 points from rookie Bennedict Mathurin. McConnell also recorded 12 assists for his sixth double-double this season.
The visitors shot 52-for-100 (18-for-46 3-point range) from the field while the Pacers finished 45-for-98 (15-for-30 3-point range).
“They just punched us in the mouth early,” Smith said. “We got off to a slow start. I don’t think we (were) fully prepared to play as a starting unit. That was our fault. That was the reason why we dug that hole, why we lost that game. Because the starters didn’t really do our job today.”
Several key players sat out from the game, including Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett for the Knicks and Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner and Chris Duarte for the Pacers.
The outcome of the game didn’t alter any playoffs seeding.
New York is currently sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a playoff berth clinched, but can’t catch the Cleveland Cavaliers for fourth, while Indiana has been eliminated from postseason contention entirely.
The Pacers dug out of an 18-point first quarter hole by closing the first half on a 15-8 run to trail the Knicks 70-67 at intermission.
Indiana came out ice cold and New York could hardly miss to start the game.
The Knicks hit eight of their first 13 shots, with Quickley logging nine points on a trio of 3-pointers, to go on a 17-0 run and lead 21-7 with 6:25 left in the first quarter. Indiana, on the other hand, shot 3-for-12 to begin.
New York continued scoring at a high volume, using a pair of mini 5-0 scoring spurts to build their lead, before the Pacers answered with a run of their own as Gabe York – who was playing in his first game of the season on a two-way contract – hit two 3-pointers and McConnell got a bucket to cut it to 32-22 with 2:10 left in the opening frame.
At the end of the first quarter, the Pacers trailed 38-29.
York, who was playing in his third NBA game ever, hit another 3-pointer to start the second quarter to spur a 9-4 run to make it a four-point game with nine minutes left in the half.
After tying the game at 44, the Knicks scored eight unanswered points thanks to a pair of 3-pointers from Grimes to lead 52-44 with 5:04 on the clock.
The Knicks led again by 10 before Mathurin converted an and-one and fellow first-year man Andrew Nembhard drilled a 3-pointer to spur the 15-8 Pacers run in the final 3:11 of the half to make it a three-point game.
Out of the break, Jordan Nwora hit a 3-pointer to knot the game and the teams then stayed within a possession until the Knicks went on an 8-0 run, thanks to 3-pointers by Quickley and Toppin and an alley-oop from Robinson, to lead 88-82 with five minutes left in the third quarter.
The Knicks didn’t relinquish the lead before the end of the third quarter and used a 14-2 scoring streak to lead by 14 points before the Pacers scored seven unanswered in the final 37 seconds including a layup by McConnell at the buzzer.
The teams tied the score four times until back-to-back dunks from Toppin and a 3-pointer from Grimes gave the Knicks a 127-120 lead with just under three minutes left.
New York was able to hang on to the lead from there and held the Pacers to six points down the final stretch until Mathurin hit a wide open 3-pointer with seven seconds remaining.
“To start the game, we made some game plan errors that put us in a big hole,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “… It’s all stuff that’s correctable. As coaches, we’re teachers. We’ve gotta teach and not ridicule – make sure these guys understand the things they have to do better.”
New York won the rebounding margin 52-37 and the Pacers had 17 turnovers.
Indiana will conclude its 2022-2023 home schedule on Friday by hosting the Detroit Pistons. The Pacers finish out the regular season against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
Inside the Numbers
The Pacers were outscored 24-16 in second-chance points, 28-17 in fast-break points, and 68-54 in points in the paint.
York scored a career-high nine points.
McConnell matched his season-best 12 assists.
Oshae Brissett finished with the highest +/- for the Pacers at +28 and York was a +22.
You Can Quote Me On That
“The guys that started the game learned some valuable things tonight about being ready to play right off the bat against a team that’s very physical.” – Carlisle on the starting lineup
“We started the second half, we did better for a while and then it went sideways. Then they had the opportunity to finish and we just made some mistakes. We’re going to learn from those.” – Carlisle on the loss
“I love Gabe. What’s not to like about the guy? He’s consistent. He’s loyal and he’s got skill. He knows who he is as a player (and) who he is as a teammate. … He’s just been a real staple for the (Fort Wayne) Mad Ants the last two years. He’s a first-class person, a hell of a player and this is a great opportunity for him and a great opportunity for our guys to play with another guy like this.” – Carlisle on York’s performance
“I’ve run out of adjectives to describe his competitive excellence.” – Carlisle on McConnell
“It always takes practice playing with new groups, new lineups, new experiments. Everybody’s learned a lot. Everybody’s been playing different roles and expanding their roles and just working to get better.” – Aaron Nesmith on continuing to develop chemistry with young starting unit
“They play hard. Real skilled guys, hard to keep in front. They’re quick, they have a good first step, got good finishing around the rim and then they both can shoot the ball. We’ve got to do a better job of containing them, but luckily we get another chance in (four) days.” — Nesmith on Quickley and Grimes having big nights
“I was just playing my game. Didn’t go outside my box, didn’t do nothing crazy. Just did what I know I can do and the team knows I can do. The main focus was just not trying to force anything, but let the game come to me.” – Smith on his offensive performance
“He was incredible. He is such a gifted shooter and a gifted scorer. Proud is an understatement. Me and him go way back and to see him come in, in an NBA game and hit the ground running … it’s not surprising, but it’s awesome to see.” – McConnell on York, who is a former college teammate of his
“We were playing unselfish, we were moving the ball, getting out running and when we do that we do best. It’s not about one person, it’s about the collective. And when we get the ball side to side and you know, get people touching it, a lot of teams struggle to guard it.” – McConnell on the second unit’s scoring
Stat of the Night
By scoring 129 points against the Knicks, the Pacers set a new NBA franchise record for total points in a season. With two games left, the Pacers are at 9,279 points.The previous high was 9,197 set during the 1991-1992 season.
McConnell has scored 10+ points in eight straight games.
Haliburton and Duarte have both missed five straight games and Turner has sat out six in a row for the Pacers due to injuries.
Indiana high school basketball legend and Butler University men’s basketball director of basketball operations Greg Oden revved up the crowd pregame.
The Pacers will play their final home game of the season when they host Jaden Ivey and the Detroit Pistons at Gainbridge Fieldhouse for Fan Appreciation Night presented by Kroger on Friday, April 7 at 7:00 PM ET.
NETS BEAT PISTONS 123-108, CLOSE IN ON PLAYOFF BERTH
DETROIT (AP) Mikal Bridges scored 26 points and the Brooklyn Nets moved to the verge of a playoff spot by beating the Detroit Pistons 123-108 on Wednesday night.
“We just had to stay locked in down the stretch,” Bridges said. “We knew they made a big run against Miami last night, so we were expecting them to make it tough on us, too.”
Former Pistons guard Spencer Dinwiddie shot 1 for 10 from the floor but matched his career high with 16 assists for the Nets (44-36), who won for the fourth time in five games. They need one more victory or loss by Miami (42-37) to clinch the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Joe Harris had 18 points on six 3-pointers, all in Brooklyn’s 47-point first quarter.
“The ball was really moving. Spencer did a great job of facilitating,” he said. “We’re playing unselfishly and making the second pass to turn good shots into great ones.”
R.J. Hampton had a career-high 27 points for Detroit, which has lost 22 of its last 23 games. Jaden Ivey had 23 points and 10 assists.
The Pistons trailed by as many as 19 points, but Hampton had 18 points in the third quarter to help them pull within 96-90.
“We took a punch in the third, but I thought we really responded,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “We had every guy doing whatever they could to try to contribute to a win.”
However, Brooklyn was able to take advantage of Detroit’s biggest weakness, getting enough offensive rebounds to prevent the Pistons from putting together a fourth-quarter run.
“It came down to the little things again tonight – that’s what always seems to be the issue for us,” Hampton said. “We need to take the step up from playing 42 good minutes to playing 48 good minutes. That’s when we will win some games.”
Brooklyn had its biggest quarter of the season in the first, but Harris missed an open 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have made it 50 points. Dinwiddie’s 10 assists in the period were the most in the NBA this season.
“We just had everything going and Spencer was finding everybody,” Bridges said. “They kept overhelping and we were able to get a lot of good looks.”
The Nets couldn’t keep up that pace in the second quarter, but the Pistons were only within 74-57 at the half because of six missed Brooklyn free throws. The Nets had a 35-13 edge in bench scoring in the half and had four players in double figures.
After starting 10 of 16, Brooklyn missed 13 of its next 14 3-point attempts, allowing Detroit to stay within 81-69 midway through the third quarter. Hampton led Detroit’s rally with four 3-pointers, including a 30-footer to make it 91-87 with 59 seconds left in the third quarter.
Nets: The 47-point quarter was the fourth-biggest in franchise history. The Nets had a 51-point fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics on March 3, 2020, and had 48-point quarters against the Pistons (1980) and Orlando (2022). … The Nets are the last team to lose a home game to the Pistons, losing 130-122 on Jan. 26.
Pistons: Detroit finished the season with a 9-32 record at Little Caesars Arena, the only NBA team to win fewer than 10 games at home. Charlotte and San Antonio are next with 13 wins. … The Pistons were down to six healthy players when Ivey limped off late in the third, but he returned from the locker room for the fourth.
WAITING FOR NEXT WEEK
Pistons coach Dwane Casey met with owner Tom Gores after the game, but he said they agreed to wait until after the season ends to make any decisions about next year. Casey is 121-261 (.317) in five seasons with the Pistons, including 80-220 (.267) in the last four years.
Nets: Host the Orlando Magic on Friday before finishing the regular season with a home game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.
Pistons: Finish the season with divisional road games against the Indiana Pacers (Friday) and Chicago Bulls (Sunday). The Pistons are 1-13 against the Central Division this season.
YOUNG HAS 25 AS HAWKS GAIN MOMENTUM, BEAT WIZARDS 134-116
ATLANTA (AP) Trae Young returned after missing one game with the flu and scored 25 points and had 16 assists to help the travel-weary Atlanta Hawks overwhelm shorthanded Washington 134-116 on Wednesday night.
With the win, the Hawks achieved a modest milestone as they prepare for the postseason. The Hawks (41-39) ended a streak of 33 games being within 1 game of .500.
The Nets defeated the Pistons and guaranteed that the Hawks cannot finish as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference and will be in the conference play-in tournament for the second straight season. Atlanta holds the No. 8 seed and has a one-game lead over No. 9 Toronto.
The Hawks overcame travel issues that forced the team to fly from Chicago on Wednesday morning after plane difficulties caused the team to stay in Chicago on Tuesday night. Arriving in Atlanta at 2 p.m., the Hawks hit the court five and half hours later.
“It was definitely an unusual schedule,” AJ Griffin said. “Coach (Quin Snyder) handled it well. He set the tone. We knew we just had to play hard and get through the day.”
John Collins had 23 points and put the Hawks in control with a stellar sequence in the third quarter. Collins scooped up a loose ball before throwing down a reverse jam, then buried a 3-pointer on the next possession that gave the Hawks an 85-71 lead.
The Hawks did not trail for the game’s final 29 minutes and shot 43.3 percent from 3-point range.
Wizards center Daniel Gafford had a career-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Hawks reserve Jalen Johnson continued his recent string of strong play, matching his career high of 16 points, set the previous night in a win over the Bulls. Johnson also had 8 rebounds.
The Wizards played without out six of their top eight rotation players, including 20-plus point scorers Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma as they play out the string following their elimination from playoff contention.
“I thought offensively, we did some good things,” said Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. “We moved the ball with pretty good pace. We were sharing the ball as best we can. We had some good looks that didn’t go down, but I’m more concerned with the defensive stuff.”
Snyder talked about his “deep” bench prior to Wednesday’s game, and the group backed up his assessment right away. Led by Johnson, Atlanta had 15 points from its bench in the first quarter after the Hawks got off to a sluggish start in the opening minutes. Johnson and Griffin finished with 16 points apiece.
“We have a lot of guys who are prepared,” Snyder said. “There are limited minutes and some tough decisions have to be made. One of the tings about our bench is the acceptance of a role. To put the team first is not something you take for granted.”
Snyder inserted guard Aaron Holiday for Young just six minutes into the game. The Hawks responded with a quick burst.
Holiday, who played just two minutes on Tuesday, had eight points and four assists in 21 minutes.
Wizards: First-round pick Johnny Davis started his third straight game and has averaged 18.7 points in his three starts. Davis scored 20 points each of his past two games. The rookie from Wisconsin averaged 11.6 points in 19 G League games and has played 26 games with the Wizards.
Hawks: De’Andre Hunter missed his fourth straight game with a knee injury. Hunter has started 65 games this season. … Bogdan Bogdanovic did not play due to right knee injury management. He led the Hawks with 26 points in Tuesday night’s win at Chicago. … The Hawks scored over 100 points for the 55th straight game, extending their team record.
Wizards: Host Miami on Friday night.
Hawks: Host Philadelphia on Friday night.
CELTICS WRAP UP EAST NO. 2 SEED WITH 97-93 WIN OVER RAPTORS
BOSTON (AP) Malcolm Brogdon scored 29 points and hit two late free throws to help the Boston Celtics hold on for a 97-93 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
With Milwaukee’s win over Chicago, Boston (55-25) secured the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Jaylen Brown added 25 points and 11 rebounds. Derrick White finished with 17 points in the opener of a two-game series. The teams meet again Friday in Boston.
Brogdon, a candidate for NBA Sixth Man of the Year after spending the previous seasons of his career in Milwaukee and Indiana as a starter, said he’s settled into his new role in Boston.
“Coming off the bench it can be a challenge sometimes, to be honest,” Brogdon said. “That’s where you’ve got to suck it up. You’re not going to score as much. You’re not going to play as much. I think that is what makes a great team – having guys that are able to do that. Guys that are able to sacrifice.”
A night after their two-point loss at Philadelphia, the Celtics played without three starters. All-Star Jayson Tatum (bruised left hip), Marcus Smart (neck spasms) and Al Horford (back stiffness) all got the night off on the second night of the back-to-back.
It made wrapping up the second seed that much more meaningful.
“You can’t take stuff like that for granted,” Brown said. “To be on a 50-plus win team is an honor. …. It’s great. And we’re getting ready to enter the postseason with a better feeling.”
The Raptors (40-40) fell a game behind eighth-place Atlanta (41-39) in the standings. Pascal Siakam had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Scottie Barnes added 18 points and eight rebounds.
Toronto went just 6 of 33 from beyond the arc. Boston didn’t shoot much better (11 of 38).
Siakam scored 14 straight for Toronto to help the Raptors trim what had been a 13-point deficit to 74-72 late in the third quarter.
Brogdon scored the final five points of the period to give Boston a seven-point cushion heading into the fourth.
Toronto kept chipping away and used an 8-1 run to tie the game at 82, before the Celtics responded with five straight points.
A dunk by Precious Achiuwa got Toronto within 89-86. Boston answered again, this time with a 6-2 spurt to get it back to six with a minute to play.
Boston ran the clock down, but Brogdon’s turnover led to a Raptors fast break and another dunk by Achiuwa, who was fouled. He completed the three-point play to make it 95-93 with 12.6 seconds left.
Brogdon was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass and hit both free throws.
He said rest and building on their foundation were the priority for the Celtics heading over their final two games.
“It’s about finishing the season strong with good habits. We don’t want to lose these two games,” Brogdon said. “We want to go in with momentum. … I think that’s one of the most important things for any of the high-seeded teams is going in with momentum because we’re going to get everybody’s best shot.”
Raptors: Went 2 for 18 from 3-point line in the first half. … Siakam had 12 first-quarter points, but was held scoreless in the second quarter.
Celtics: Brown was awarded the Red Auerbach Award, given annually by the franchise to the player who “best exemplifies the spirit and meaning of what it means to be a Boston Celtic.”
White appeared to tweak his left ankle with under eight minutes to play in the third quarter after he landed awkwardly after getting fouled on a drive to the rim. He hit both ensuing free throws and stayed in the game before going to the bench with 3:57 left in the period.
He played the entire fourth quarter and led the Celtics on the night, logging 41 minutes.
BUCKS WRAP UP TOP SEED IN NBA WITH 105-92 VICTORY OVER BULLS
MILWAUKEE (AP) Wrapping up the top seed in the NBA playoffs was the order of business for the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.
Despite being without the injured Giannis Antetokounmpo and losing Khris Middleton to an injury early in the game, the Bucks made a second-half push to beat the Chicago Bulls 105-92. The Bucks went on a 15-0 run in the third quarter to overcome a 10-point deficit and pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Bobby Portis had 27 points and 13 rebounds, starting in place of Antetokounmpo, and center Brook Lopez finished with 26 points.
“It’s definitely a great achievement,” Lopez said. “It’s cool because we’ve had a lot of different lineups throughout the year, and regardless of who we’ve put out on the floor, our guys have come out with the right mindset and have been going out there to succeed.”
Antetokounmpo was ruled out before the game because of right knee soreness. He had 28 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists against Washington on Tuesday night.
Point guard Jrue Holiday scored 20 points and had a season-high 15 assists while adding eight rebounds, and he led the second-half surge. Jevon Carter had 16 points in a starting role.
Middleton started for the Bucks, but played just eight minutes before exiting with right knee soreness. He was 0 for 3 from the floor.
Milwaukee improved to 58-22 as it won its third straight game. The Bucks lead fellow Eastern Conference foe Boston by three games with two games remaining.
Wes Matthews played 30 minutes off the bench and harassed Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan throughout the game, helping limit DeRozan to eight points on 3-of-12 shooting. He did not score a basket until early in the fourth quarter.
“He’s one of the best scorers this league has seen,” Matthews said. “We’ve been battling for 14 years now and he;’s one of my favorite players to play against, one of my favorite players to watch.
“The biggest thing is to try to keep him off the free throw line, try to make him as uncomfortable as possible. He’s got an array of moves. You have to be willing to take that challenge.”
DeRozan said of his poor shooting night, “It won’t happen again. I guarantee you.”
Nikola Vucevic led the Bulls with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Coby White added 14 points, and Zach LaVine had 13.
The Bulls started the night in 10th place in the East and already having clinched a play-in berth. They will not be able to move up during the final two games after Atlanta won on Wednesday. Toronto lost in Boston but remains two games ahead of the Bulls with two to play, and the Raptors own the tiebreaker.
Chicago led, 61-51, when Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer took a timeout with 8:30 left in the third quarter. Milwaukee outscored the Bulls, 54-31, the rest of the way.
“We’ve talked about the defensive abilities of our players,” Budenholzer said. “They turned it up, really everybody.”
The Bucks coach said claiming the top seed in the East was no small matter.
“Night in and night out in this league, it’s hard,” Budenholzer said. “To have the best record, it is something that matters and is important. But being our best day each night is what we talk about the most.
“Now we get to take a breath. I have no idea what we’re going to do Friday and Sunday. The guys have earned it. Ton of a credit to the guys for what they’ve done since the all-star break to put themselves in this position.”
Bulls: Guard Alex Caruso was ruled out with a left foot injury, a problem he has dealt with in recent weeks. Caruso played 19 minutes and went scoreless in Chicago’s home loss to Atlanta on Tuesday night. “He doesn’t want to be a liability,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said.
Bucks: Pat Connaughton sprained his right ankle in the first quarter Tuesday and was out Wednesday. “We’re hopeful it’s a very short-term thing,” Budenholzer said. “I would put it in the relatively positive bucket.” … Grayson Allen (right ankle sprain) is out for the rest of the regular-season, but Budenholzer remains hopeful the guard will be ready for the first round of the playoffs which open April 15.
Bulls: At Dallas on Friday night.
Bucks: Host Memphis on Friday night.
PELICANS TOP GRIZZLIES 138-131 IN OT, EARN PLAY-IN SPOT
NEW ORLEANS (AP) While Herbert Jones makes his living as the Pelicans’ top defender. He can al;so punish opponents who underestimate his shot.
Jones highlighted a career-high, 35-point performance with five 3-pointers, and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame a 19-point deficit to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 138-131 in overtime Wednesday night and clinch a play-in spot.
“I show up every day and put in a ton of work on my jump shot,” said Jones, who repeatedly found himself unguarded by the Grizzlies when he received the ball near the 3-point arc. “I just kind of felt disrespected. I just stayed aggressive and the shots fell.”
Jones’ fast-break dunk capped a decisive 10-0 run to open the extra period. The surge started with a pair of 3s by Trey Murphy III, who hit seven 3s in the game and finished with 30 points.
The Pelicans combined to hit 21 3s. CJ McCollum hit six from deep and finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, while Brandon Ingram overcame a slow start and hit a slew of clutch shots to wind up with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
The victory guarantees the Pelicans (41-39) at least a top-nine finish in the Western Conference, good enough to get into the play-in. The question is what seeding they’ll have after their final two games. They could get into the top six – and bypass the play-in – if they win twice more and get some help in the form of losses by the Clippers or Warriors.
“It’s incredible to have the opportunity two years in a row to play in the postseason,” second-year Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “We’re continuing to build. So, for us, this a big step.”
Jaren Jackson Jr. had 40 points, nine rebounds and four blocks for Memphis, which led for most of regulation despite resting Ja Morant (left hip), Luke Kennard (right ankle) and Xavier Tillman (right ankle).
Despite those absences, Memphis surged in front by 19 late in the second quarter when Brooks hit a 10-foot turnaround fade to make it 69-50.
The Grizzlies led for most of regulation and were up 101-89 in the fourth quarter when the Pelicans stunningly turned the game on its head with a 22-6 run during which they made seven 3s – four by Murphy. That put New Orleans in front 111-107 and had the crowd roaring and out of their seats as Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins called timeout.
Ingram, who scored 10 in the last 3:39 of regulation, hit a 16-foot, pull-up jumper in the face of tight defense from Dillon Brooks to make it 123-118 with 14.3 seconds left, and Trey Murphy III made it 124-118 when he hit one of two free throws with 11 seconds to go.
Memphis then remarkably forced overtime with a 6-0 run in the last five seconds, starting with Brooks’ corner 3 as he was fouled by Jones.
Brooks missed the free throw, apparently on purpose in hopes of his team getting a rebound, but New Orleans got it and called timeout, only to turn the ball over on an offensive foul during and inbound.
New Orleans then fouled Desmond Bane on the dribble with 2.6 seconds left, and he hit one free throw before purposely missing the second. Jaren Jackson rebounded and was fouled as he tried to put the ball back up with 0.4 on the clock. Jackson hit two free throws to tie it at 124.
But the Pelicans’ resolve seemed undiminished by their collapse in the final seconds regulation.
“We just understood that we came too far in this game to just let it go to waste,” Murphy said. “It’s one of those wins that builds character. We had lot of adversity, fought back, had more adversity and fought back again.”
Grizzlies: Brooks finished with 25 points, while Bane had 24. Tyus Jones had 13 points, 12 assists and four steals. … Outscored the Pelicans 70-34 in the paint and outrebounded New Orleans 49-44.
Pelicans: Had three players with 30 points in a game for the first time in franchise history. … The 19-point comeback was their largest this season. … Need one more victory in their last two games to finish with a winning regular season record for the first time since 2017-18, when they went 48-34. … Shot 50% (44 of 88), including 21 of 39 (53.8%) from 3.
Grizzlies: At Milwaukee on Friday night.
Pelicans: Host New York on Friday night.
MAVS KEEP PLAY-IN HOPES ALIVE WITH 123-119 WIN OVER KINGS
DALLAS (AP) Kyrie Irving had already sparked a rally to put the Dallas Mavericks in front when he hit a gravity-defying shot that helped seal a victory to keep their postseason hopes alive.
Irving capped a 19-point fourth quarter with a high-arching 3-pointer to finish with 31 points, and Dallas stayed in the race for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference playoffs with a 123-119 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
The corner 3 from Irving finished his 25-point second half and put the Mavericks up 120-114 with two minutes remaining. Dallas trailed by 13 early in the third quarter.
“He made it rain. Uncle Drew,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “His difficulty of shots, he makes look easy. But that was a big 3.”
Luka Doncic had 29 points and 10 rebounds as the Mavericks (38-42) matched Oklahoma City’s record for the 10th seed in the West with two games remaining.
The Thunder own the tiebreaker, so Dallas, which reached the West finals last year, needs at least one Oklahoma City loss to have a chance at another playoff run.
Facing the brink of postseason elimination with a loss, the Mavericks rallied in the third quarter, when Irving started and finished a 12-0 run with 3-pointers for an 82-78 lead.
Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 24 points, had the other two 3s on the run as Doncic and Irving won for the fifth time in 16 games together since the blockbuster trade that brought Irving from Brooklyn.
Dallas ended a three-game losing streak with just its second victory in its past nine games.
“We’ve been feeling the sense of desperation for the last couple of games now,” Hardaway said. “Just happy that we were able to come out on top for one of them, at least. Now it’s picking up where we left off.”
De’Aaron Fox scored 28 points and Domantas Sabonis had a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for the Kings, who have already ended a 16-year playoff drought and are all but locked in to the third seed in the West.
Sacramento matched its biggest lead in the opening moments of the third quarter, but the Mavericks went back in front 79-78 on a 3 by Doncic with seven minutes left in the third.
“Our sense of urgency, our physicality, our pace, all of that stuff was really, really good in the first half,” Kings coach Mike Brown said. “They came out in the second half and took it to us. The game was basically reversed in that area.”
Sacramento had a season-high 22 offensive rebounds for a 30-14 edge in second-chance points, but the Mavericks had the biggest one of the game when Christian Wood grabbed a miss from Irving and five seconds later hit a 3-pointer for a 123-114 lead with a minute to go.
Wood scored 14 points despite 5-of-15 shooting.
Irving was 4 of 5 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter and 7 of 11 overall.
“Not every fourth quarter is like that for me,” Irving said. “You look back to the last few games, I wish I could have played as well as I did tonight. Just desperation basketball. It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve been in a must-win game, so it felt good.”
Kings: All five starters scored in double figures. Harrison Barnes had 16 points against his former team, Kevin Huerter scored 14 and Keegan Murray added 11.
Mavericks: Starters Reggie Bullock and Dwight Powell combined for just five points on just four shots. … Josh Green had 10 points and nine rebounds.
COOL, BUT DIDN’T COUNT
With the outcome decided as the final seconds ticked off, Doncic casually flipped a three-quarter-court shot that went in. Officials stopped long enough to confirm it was after the buzzer.
Kings: Golden State in home finale Friday.
Mavericks: Chicago visits Friday.
POWELL AND LEONARD LEAD CLIPPERS OVER LAKERS, 125-118
LOS ANGELES (AP) The battle of Los Angeles was no contest. The quest for the highest possible playoff seed is another story for the Clippers and Lakers.
Norman Powell scored 27 points, Kawhi Leonard added 25 in a game-high 43 minutes and the Clippers improved their playoff seeding chances with a 125-118 win over LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday night.
The Clippers’ 11th straight victory over their Crypto.com Arena hallmates pulled them into a tie with idle Golden State for fifth in the West at 42-38. The Clippers and Lakers came into their final meeting of the season tied in the standings at 41-38.
The Clippers can help themselves with wins in their last two regular-season games.
“I’m not a fan of the play-in tournament,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “We’re still not out of the clear yet.”
The Lakers had already clinched at least a play-in spot, but are trying to finish in the top six and earn one of the guaranteed postseason berths. The Clippers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lakers.
“Whatever we end up, that’s where we end up,” James said. “For us, it’s always about health. Over the last couple years, that’s been our Achilles’ heel.”
James had 33 points – 30 in the second half – eight rebounds, seven assists and six turnovers for the Lakers, who were closing out a back-to-back. Anthony Davis had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who had won four in a row and seven of eight.
The Clippers came in fresh, having had three days off. The Lakers, by comparison, eked out an overtime win at Utah on Tuesday night that required James and Davis to play even more minutes on the front end of the back-to-back.
“It was one of those scheduling conflicts,” James said. “It definitely got the best of us tonight.”
Playing without injured Paul George, the Clippers got 17 points and 13 rebounds from Ivica Zubac. Facing the Lakers for the first time since their divorce in February, Russell Westbrook added 14 points.
Bones Hyland hit three 3-pointers and Terance Mann added another early in the fourth to extend the Clippers’ lead to 106-90. Powell sent a perfectly timed alley-oop pass over Davis and Leonard slammed it down for a 112-92 lead.
James and Davis combined for nine points on 4-of-12 shooting in the half.
“I let them know Bron was going to come out guns blazing,” Lue said of his halftime speech.
James and Davis took over in the third during the Lakers’ lone dominant stretch of the game. They combined to score 17 of their team’s first 19 points during a run that cut the deficit from 21 points to eight. Davis scored over Mason Plumlee to draw the Lakers within seven.
But Powell ran off 10 in a row and Plumlee dunked to send the Clippers into the fourth leading 93-82. Leonard was limited to a 3-pointer in the third.
Coming in off three days’ rest, the Clippers opened the game with a 23-11 run in which a clearly motivated Westbrook scored eight points and assisted on their first two baskets.
“We came out with energy early,” Leonard said. “We kept our foot on the pedal.”
The Lakers answered with a 15-2 spurt to take their lone lead of the game, 26-25, while getting points from five different players.
The Clippers outscored the Lakers 34-21 in the second quarter to lead 71-52 at halftime. One of James’ no-look passes ended up in Mann’s hands and he fired to Powell, who hit a 3-pointer. Another James turnover resulted in a dunk by Mann.
Lakers: Lost the season series, 4-0. They were beaten by six, 13, 18 and seven points. … Mo Bamba (ankle sprain) has been out for a month.
Clippers: Leonard reached 4,000 career rebounds in the third. … They outscored the Lakers 20-8 in fast-break points in the first half, the most such points since November 2021 against Minnesota. … Marcus Morris (low back spasms) sat out.
Lakers: Host Phoenix on Friday. They’re 1-2 vs. the Suns this season.
Clippers: Host Portland on Saturday. The Blazers have already been eliminated from postseason contention.