Here’s what you need to know from this past weekend’s NBA action:
Game Recap: Raptors halt Rocket’s streak at 17
In a battle of the NBA’s two hottest teams (and conference leaders), this one was a thriller. The Rockets came in having won 17 straight (the longest winning streak this season) while the Raptors had won 13 of 14 and boasted the NBA’s best home record.
The Raptors jumped out to an early lead, setting the stage for hometown hero Drake to call the shot:
The Raptors led 58-43 at the break, but the Rockets fought back in the third and a Harden step-back three tied things at 102 with just over two minutes in regulation. DeRozan responded on the next possession, Jonas Valanciunas came up with a block, and Harden turned the ball over on the Rockets following possession. A Eric Gordon three cut it to 105-106 with 7.9 seconds and after two Valanciunas free-throws, the Rockets had one final chance, but were only able to get a Harden off the mark desperation heave from just inside half court.
Harden would finish with a game-high 40 points, going 15-22 from the field while Kyle Lowry hit 7-9 threes on his way to 30 points. Valanciunas also added a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards.
The question for the Raptors, and the entire Eastern Conference, is whether or not they are capable of beating Lebron in a playoff series, a task no team in the EC has accomplished in the past 7 seasons. The short answer is probably not, but this is a better Raptors squad from the one that has been bounced by the Cavs the past two seasons.
Both teams put up wins on Sunday with Houston beating Dallas 105-82, without Harden who sat out with knee soreness. The Raptors won their 8th straight with a 132-106 schlacking of the Knicks.
Cavs struggle in Lala Land
After an impressive road win in Denver, the Cavs headed to Los Angeles, where they found nothing but Ls in the Staple Center. On Friday, a monster performances from DeAndre Jordan (20 pts, 23 rebs) led the Clippers to a 116-102 victory in which the out boarded the Cavs 64-47. The Clippers, who many wrote off with the Blake Griffin trade on January 29th, now sit in the 8th spot, going 11-5 since the trade.
Sunday brought a revenge game for the Lakers’ Isaiah Thomas after his tumultuous tenure in Cleveland. Thomas put up 20 while Julius Randle dominated inside scoring 36 to go with 14 boards. Like Friday, Cleveland was out rebounded (51-37), however help should be on the way with the expected return of Kevin Love by the end of the month.
Pelicans streak ends
After jumping up the Western Conference standings with 10 straight wins, the Pelicans suffered back-to-back losses to the Wizards and Jazz. Anthony Davis sat out Friday’s 116-97 loss to the Wizards but returned to form on Sunday, recording 25 points, 11 rebounds, and a ridiculous 10 blocks in a 116-99 loss to the Jazz.
T-Wolves drop Curry-less Warriors at home
It has been an up-and-down year for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but they have been solid on their home floor all year (26-8). They added to that resume Sunday with a 109-103 win against the Warriors. Karl Anthony-Towns put up 31 pts and 16 rebs to combat 39 and 12 from Kevin Durant.
The loss was the second straight for the Warriors, who went down 125-108 to the red hot Blazers on Friday, despite 40 from Durant. This is just the second time they’ve lost consecutive games this year. Curry is expected to return this Wednesday for a home tilt against the Lakers.
Make sure to check back this week for our daily NBA recaps.