Los Angeles (AFP)
The Lakers, worn by Anthony Davis, beat the Suns, contenders for their succession, retaining the hope of avoiding the qualifying play-offs for the NBA play-offs in the West on Sunday, while Miami, winner in Boston, has increased his chances of reaching them directly to the east.
The Lakers have pride
Back to the wall of the top 6, the Lakers, still deprived of LeBron James (ankle), won a convincing victory against Phoenix (123-110), showing commitment, authority and good basketball.
Anthony Davis, finally back at his best, was the great guy in LA (42 pts, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 interceptions, 3 blocks).
And he behaved as a leader, fighting on all the balls.
Side Suns (2nd), who came very close to the score in the money-time after being 24 units behind, Devin Booker was not adroit (5/14, 21 pts), unlike the replacement Cameron Payne ( 24 pts, at 9/10).
After this encouraging success, LA must pursue a flawless performance in its last four games, hoping for a misstep from Portland, to be able to move up to 6th place.
Especially since the Mavericks cemented their 5th place, by winning without forcing in Cleveland (124-97), despite the exclusion of Luka Doncic (15 pts, 5 assists) at the start of the third quarter, for having fouls Collin Sexton, hitting him in the groin.
Luckily for them, Tim Hardaway Jr, was having a good night (25 pts, 7/11 behind the arc).
The Heat takes the break
Dominating in the first period, punctuated with a 26-point lead, Miami then suffered the awakening of Boston, finally managing to contain the rise of the C's to win (130-124).
A success that allows the Heat to consolidate its 6th place, while having the same record as Atlanta (5th).
The Celtics, now two wins behind their direct rivals with four games to play, appear to be in the play-offs.
A victory is therefore imperative Tuesday against the Floridians they face again.
In the meantime, on this match, they suffered the law of Jimmy Butler (26 pts, 11 assists, 8 rebounds).
"It's a victory that feels good. But we did not complete this meeting as we should," he said.
"We still have to be able to do better."
Opposite, the efforts of Frenchman Evan Fournier (30 pts, 8 assists) and Jayson Tatum (29 pts) were in vain, in the absence of Jaylen Brown (ankle).
Behind, Charlotte (8th, also play-off) missed an opportunity to get closer to the Celtics by losing to New Orleans (112-110), despite 43 points from Terry Rozier.
The Pelicans, yet deprived of Zion Williamson (broken finger) and Brandon Ingram (hip), cling to their dream of barring the West.
They have two victories apart with San Antonio (10th, the last place allowing access to the play-offs of the play-offs) five games from the end of the regular season.
Chicago also remains mathematically in the race for the "play-in" in the East with its victory in Detroit (108-96).
Nikola Vucevic (29 pts, 16 rebounds) and Zach LaVine (30 pts) were decisive.
NY gets close to the play-offs
The surprising Knicks are having an excellent season, rewarded with a game based on defense, against the tide of the current NBA.
And it was seen again at Staples Center, where they contained the Clippers' attack well.
A success (106-100) which owes to the excellent performance of Derrick Rose (25 pts, 8 assists, 6 rebounds), relayed by Reggie Bullock (24 pts) and Julius Randle (14 pts, 14 rebounds).
Well established in 4th place in the East, they foresee their first participation in the play-offs in eight years.
The Clippers, the most prolific long-distance team, were hampered in this exercise (34.3%) and Kawhi Leonard's 29 points were not enough to fill the gaps of Paul George (18 pts, 2/9 behind arc).
Already qualified for the play-offs, the other Los Angeles team remains third in the West.
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