Cleveland Cavaliers (14-5) vs New York Knicks (12-9)
8pm ET on ESPN
Riding a 3-game losing streak and with 1st place in the East on the line, the Cleveland Cavaliers Big Three stepped up on Monday, delivering a combined 86 points, 24 rebounds and 14 assists to lead the Cavs to a 116-112 win over the Toronto Raptors. Cleveland survived a scare 90 seconds into the game, when Kyrie Irving fed a soaring LeBron James an alley-oop for a thunderous dunk, only to have James come down wincing and grabbed his ankle. While James remained on one knee, the Hawks turned back up the court for a quick 3 by Kyle Lowry, but James would shake it off. More worrisome for Cleveland was JR Smith’s departure from the game late in the first quarter with an injured knee, the result from an awkward landing on a jump shot. X-rays were negative, but he’s scheduled for an MRI, and likely won’t suit up against the Knicks. James finished the night with 34-8-7, Irving with 24 points and 7 assists, and Love scored 28 to go along with 14 boards.
Would you look who’s tied for the third-best record in the East… The Knicks’ current 4-game winning streak has them at 3 games over .500 for the first time since April of 2013, the latest win coming Tuesday at the expense of the Miami Heat, by a score of 114-103. Carmelo Anthony had a game high 35 points, while Kristaps Porzingis (14-12) and Joakim Noah (10-10) each had double-doubles. Though they won the game, the Knicks did suffer a loss, as guard Derrick Rose was forced from the game in the 3rd quarter with back spasms, and is a question mark for tonight. Rose has been solid since coming over from the Bulls in an offseason trade, averaging 16.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists – it would be a shame of this was the beginning of his fifth straight injury-marred season. The big story around the Knicks continues to be the rise of Porzingis, who’s averaging 20.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, and whose PER of 19.8 leads the team.
Golden State Warriors (18-3) vs Los Angeles Clippers(16-6)
10:30pm ET on ESPN
Tonight marks the first of four regular season meetings this season for one of the league’s newer and more heated rivalries, one that features two of the NBA’s most potent offenses. Warriors-Clippers? This should be fun.
Klay Thompson became just the 19th player in NBA history to score 60 points in a game, leading the Golden State Warriors to a 142-106 decimation of the Indiana Pacers. Thompson, who set the record for most points in a quarter with 37 just last year, was white hot, making 21 of 33 from the floor, including 8 of 14 from beyond the arc, and 10 of 11 from the line, leaving his teammates with little to do but feed him dimes and shake their heads in amazement. All but one of his field goals were assisted, by seven different teammates. What made the achievement even more remarkable was that Thompson checked out of the game for good with 1:22 to play – in the 3rd quarter. Given that he played just 29 minutes, the fewest ever in a 60-point game, he was scoring at a pace on a par with Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. The Pacers starting five scored 62.
Despite opening the game with a 9-0 run, and eventually building a 15-point lead in the 1st quarter, the Los Angeles Clippers let one slip away Sunday, losing 111-102 to the Indiana Pacers. It was the Clippers fourth loss in their last 6 games, as they’ve fallen down to 3rd in the West. The Clippers raced out to a 25-10 lead late in the first quarter, but the Pacers went on a run in the 2nd quarter, briefly taking a 41-40 lead on a Jeff Teague 3-pointer, before LA closed out the half with three unanswered baskets to again take control, eventually heading into the locker up 52-48. But the Pacers flipped the script for good, starting the 3rd quarter with an 11-0 run that put them in the driver’s seat, up 59-52. A 12-1 run midway through the 3rd quarter would get the Clippers back to within 5, but by then it was too late. The Clippers were plagued by turnovers, coughing it up 20 times, including 5 by Chris Paul, who scored 188 points with 11 assists, and the bench was abysmal, scoring 29 points on 10-of-28 shooting. The Clippers have only been outscored by a total of 9 points over this 6-game skid, so it may be a matter of bad luck, but coming just before a meeting with the Warriors is definitely bad luck.
Watch the Cavs vs Knicks at 8pm ET, followed by Warriors vs Clippers at 10:30pm ET on ESPN by subscribing to Sling Orange