Clippers vs. Cavaliers (8pm ET Thursday, TNT)
The Clippers got back to their winning ways Monday, just two days after having their 10-game winning streak snapped, beating the Rockets 140-132 in a good old-fashioned overtime shootout. The Clips led by 12 with 3 minutes to play, but the Rockets came charging back to tie it on a Matt Thornton 3-pointer with 7 seconds left on the clock. Los Angeles opened the extra frame with a Jamal Crawford 3 and never looked back. The Rockets’ loss wasted a monster night by Dwight Howard, who scored 36 points on 11-of-16 shooting and pulled down 26 rebounds. But it wasn’t enough to overcome a ridiculous performance by sharpshoter JJ Reddick, who made 9 of 12 3-pointers on his way to scoring 40, Chris Paul’s 28-6-12 to go along with 6 steals, and DeAndre Jordan’s 16-15. The Clippers are now 27-14 and the 4th seed in the West.
The Cavaliers’ Monday night was as wretched as the Clippers’ was epic, maybe more so, as Cleveland fell 132-98 in a Finals rematch with the Golden State Warriors. Having fallen by 4 to San Antonio and by 34 to Golden State in the span of five days, it may be time for Cleveland to reconsider their approach if they’re serious about winning a title. And their Big Three of LeBron, Irving and Love may want to do some soul-searching after a night during which Steph Curry made more field goals than the three of them combined.
Cleveland took out their frustrations on an overmatched Nets team last night, winning 91-78. Kevin Love led the way with 17 points and 18 rebounds as the Cavs built a big enough cushion that he and LeBron could both sit out the fourth quarter. They’re now 29-11 and remain atop the East, three games ahead of the Raptors.
Spurs vs. Suns (10:30pm ET Thursday, TNT)
At 36-6 and two and a half games behind Golden State, the San Antonio Spurs remain the silent assassin of this NBA season. The Spurs have won 11 in a row since a Christmas Day loss to Houston, most recently beating Dallas 112-83 on Sunday. It brought the Spurs’ point differential to 14.2, still well ahead of the record of 12.3 set by the ‘71-’72 Lakers. Tony Parker left the game against Dallas with a sore hip and is questionable for tonight’s action.
The 13-30 Phoenix Suns are languishing at 13th place in the West, with only the Timberwolves and Lakers standing between them and the cellar. They have won only one of their last 15 games, in part because they lost Eric Bledsoe and his 20 points a game to a torn meniscus in late December. Power forward Markieff Morris has missed several games, and may miss tonight’s with a sore shoulder. Forward Jon Leuer missed the last game with back spasms and is questionable for tonight’s game, as is power forward Mirza Teletovic, who left the last game with an ankle sprain.
So the team with the second-best record in the league and one of the greatest big men of all time is playing the team with the fifth-worst record when they’re potentially down three of their big men and their leading scorer. Oof.