Grizzlies score 151 against the Rockets to clinch a playoff berth, Dennis Smith Jr. hits dagger7 min read
Luke Kennard made a franchise-record 10 3-pointers to match his career high with 30 points, Desmond Bane added 25 points and the Memphis Grizzlies clinched a playoff spot after building a 31-point halftime lead and coasting to a 151-114 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
Kennard, acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in a trade deadline deal Feb. 9, connected on 10 of 11 shots from outside the arc – only the second player in NBA history to score 30 points all on 3-pointers. Bane was 5 of 7 from 3-point range as Memphis made 25 3-pointers to set a franchise mark.
‘When you start hitting a couple in a row, usually about three for me, I start feeling it a little bit,’ Kennard said. ‘It´s the kind of thing where once it leaves your hand, you think it´s going in. So, it was pretty fun.’
Ja Morant scored 18 points and had eight assists in his second game after serving an eight-game league-imposed suspension after he posted a video in which he is shown waving a gun at a Denver-area strip club.
Morant, as he did in his first game back Wednesday also against the Rockets, again came off the bench. He entered with 5:08 left in the first quarter.
Memphis Grizzlies guard Luke Kennard handles the ball the second half against the Rockets
Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) dunks over Houston Rockets forward Tari Eason (17) during the first half
Jaren Jackson Jr. also scored 18 points and had seven rebounds and two blocks for Memphis, which had the second-most points in franchise history. The Grizzlies won their 11th straight at home and moved within three games of idle Denver, which holds the top spot in the Western Conference.
Tari Eason had 21 points to lead Houston, while Kevin Porter Jr. and Jabari Smith Jr. each had 20. Porter also had seven assists and six rebounds. Smith grabbed eight boards.
Unlike Wednesday night’s game between the teams that was closely played, Memphis put this one out of reach in the first half.
The Grizzlies shot 60% overall in the half, connected on 14 of 25 from outside the arc and built the advantage to as many as 31 with an 83-52 lead at the break.
‘We weren’t physical with them. They were physical with us,’ Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. ‘We were just letting them run around wherever they wanted. Obviously, Kennard got going and we were just late (defending the 3-point line).’
While Memphis isn’t normally known for its 3-point shooting, Silas noted that Kennard and Bane combined to make 15 long-range shots.
‘Kennard was 10 for 11. The guy was going,’ Silas said.
For Kennard, it was the best game for Memphis since the trade. Soon after he arrived, he was reluctant to take shots as he became more comfortable with his new team. From coaches to players, all have encouraged him to take his shot.
‘Obviously, he’s coming out talking about how we’ve been on him, his teammates have been on him talking about being more aggressive,’ Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. ‘You see his confidence building one game at a time.
‘This is why we made the trade for him.’
Ja Morant (12) reacts after a dunk during the second half against the Houston Rockets
HORNETS 117, MAVERICKS 109
P.J. Washington Jr. scored 28 points and Gordon Hayward added 25 as the undermanned Charlotte Hornets built a 21-point lead and held on to beat the Dallas Mavericks 117-109 on Friday night.
The Hornets, who were eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoff race last week, earned a split of a back-to-back after losing by 19 points on Thursday night at New Orleans and finishing with only seven healthy players. Against Dallas, Charlotte had seven players score in double figures.
Charlotte inbounded with 20.7 seconds left and a 114-109 lead after the Mavericks successfully challenged a shooting foul. With the shot clock winding down, Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas´ first-round draftee in 2017, hit a 30-foot 3-pointer.
Hornets’ Dennis Smith Jr. celebrates after scoring a three-point basket late against the Mavs
CELTICS 120, PACERS 95
Jayson Tatum scored 34 points, setting a new franchise record with his 40th 30-point game this season, and the Boston Celtics rolled to a 120-95 win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
Tatum passed Hall of Famer Larry Bird, who had 39 30-point games during the 1987-88 season.
Jaylen Brown added 27 points and seven rebounds, and Derrick White finished with 22 points and nine assists.
Jayson Tatum scores as Pacers Isaiah Jackson and Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield look on
RAPTORS 118, PISTONS 97
Pascal Siakam scored 32 points, Chris Boucher had 19 points and 13 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors routed the struggling Detroit Pistons 118-97 on Friday night for their eighth win in nine home games.
Fred VanVleet added 18 points and O.G. Anunoby 17 as Toronto completed its first four-game sweep of Detroit since the 2017-18 season.
The Raptors also improved to 7-0 when holding opponents below 100 points.
Jaden Ivey scored 20 points and Marvin Bagley III and James Wiseman each had 14 for Detroit, but the Pistons lost for the 16th time in 17 games. Detroit has the NBA’s worst record at 16-58.
Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam dunks during the first half against the Detroit Pistons
WIZARDS 136, SPURS 124
Corey Kispert scored 26 points and sank six 3-pointers, Deni Avdija added 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and the Washington Wizards pulled away for a 136-124 win over the San Antonio Spurs in a meeting of depleted teams Friday night.
Delon Wright added 24 points and Kristaps Porzingis 23 for the Wizards, who missed three-time All-Star Bradley Beal (left knee sprain) for a second game.
The 12th-place Wizards snapped a four-game losing skid on a night they began 2 1/2 games back of the Chicago Bulls for the final Eastern Conference play-in game spot.
Washington sank 15 of 30 attempts beyond the arc one game after setting season lows for number and percentage of 3s made in Wednesday´s loss to West-leading Denver.
Corey Kispert of the Washington Wizards drives to the basket against the San Antonio Spurs
BUCKS 144, JAZZ 116
Grayson Allen scored a season-high 25 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 144-116 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
Allen made five 3-pointers and shot 57% from the field to help the Bucks lead wire-to-wire. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 11 assists, and Pat Connaughton scored 22 points while making six 3-pointers. Jrue Holiday added 18 points and seven assists, and Brook Lopez had 17 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks.
Milwaukee made 22 3-pointers and shot 56% from the field to fuel its third straight victory.
Milwaukee Bucks Grayson Allen (12) goes to the basket as Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (24)
BULLS 124, TRAIL BLAZERS 96
Zach LaVine scored 33 points and the Chicago Bulls dominated the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers 124-96 on Friday night.
Nikola Vucevic added 23 points and 15 rebounds for the Bulls, who have won six of their last eight games and sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings with nine regular-season games remaining.
Portland, which has lost seven of its last eight games, was led by rookie Shaedon Sharpe, who matched his career high with 24 points. The Blazers’ lone win during the recent stretch came against the Utah Jazz 127-115 on Wednesday. Portland was at 13th in the Western Conference standings, well out of the playoff picture.
Regular Portland starters Damian Lillard (calf tightness), Jusuf Nurkic (sore right knee), Jerami Grant (quad contusion) and Anfernee Simons (sore right foot) did not play against the Bulls.
Bulls guard Zach LaVine, left, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers forward Jabari Walker
WARRIORS 120, 76ERS 112
Jordan Poole scored 33 points and swished a key 3-pointer with 1:18 to play off a pretty pass by Draymond Green, Stephen Curry added 29 points and eight rebounds, and the Golden State Warriors rallied past Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers 120-112 on Friday night.
Embiid checked back into the game with 8:26 left and scored 13 straight on the way to 46 points, but the Warriors came back from 11 down for their ninth straight home win – and one of the most important yet as they fight for playoff positioning.
Curry dribbled the baseline and around Embiid for a go-ahead jumper with 2:20 to play. Klay Thompson tied it at 104 with 5:05 left, only for Embiid to drive straight down the key for a dunk.
Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) gestures after making a 3-point basket
KINGS 135, SUNS 127
Kevin Huerter led all scorers with 29 points and the Sacramento Kings beat the Phoenix Suns 135-127 on Friday night.
Huerter added nine rebounds and five assists for the Kings (44-29), who are in third place in the Western Conference behind Denver and Memphis.
Domantas Sabonis finished with 27 points, nine rebounds and nine assists for the Kings.
Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox exited the game with 7:16 left in the third quarter with right hamstring soreness. Fox finished with 19 points in 21 minutes.
Kings guard Kevin Huerter (9) celebrates after a basket against the Phoenix Suns on Friday
LAKERS 116, THUNDER 111
Anthony Davis scored 15 of his 37 points in the first quarter and added 14 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers got off to a fast start and held on for a 116-111 victory over the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
The Lakers registered their third consecutive win and reached .500 for the first time this season. They are 37-37 after starting 2-10.
Dennis Schroder scored 21 points and Lonnie Walker IV added 20 for the Lakers, who defeated the Thunder for the second time this month and moved one game ahead of Oklahoma City (36-38) in the Western Conference standings as both teams duel for a postseason spot. The Lakers won the season series 2-1.
The Lakers also won for the seventh time in their past 10 games and improved to 8-5 since star LeBron James went down with a tendon injury to his right foot.
Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes to the basket during the game against OKC