Jalen Brunson scored a career-high 48 points and the New York Knicks moved closer to a playoff berth while waiting for All-Star Julius Randle to get healthy, outrunning the Cleveland Cavaliers 130-116 on Friday night.
The Knicks reduced their magic number to one in their first game without Randle, who sprained his left ankle Wednesday and will miss the rest of the regular season. New York hopes he’ll be back for the postseason and a potential first-round matchup against the Cavs.
New York won the season series 3-1 and denied Cleveland a chance to lock up home-court advantage in the first round.
Leading by three, the Knicks outscored the Cavs 14-2 to open the fourth and some breathing room in a game played at a frenetic pace.
The teams combined for 89 points in the first quarter and 151 in the first half.
New York Knicks Jalen Brunson (11) drives against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell
Brunson (11) scores a layup against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45)
Donovan Mitchell scored 42 points to lead Cleveland, which closed within 123-116 before Brunson, who had seven 3-pointers and nine assists, put the Cavs away with a layup and 3-pointer. Brunson missed a floater in the final seconds that would have given him 50 points.
The Knicks needed someone to step up offensively with Randle out, and Brunson more than made up for his absence – and his 25 points per game.
Brunson, who averages 23.6 points, scored 33 in a wild first half without much defense.
The teams combined for 89 points in the first quarter, tying the third most in the first 12 minutes of a game in NBA history.
The record of 91 is shared by Utah and Denver (1982), and Miami and Washington (2021).
Also, Cleveland’s 47 points in the first quarter were the most in the franchise’s 53-year history.
The Cavs were without two of their top defensive players, center Jarrett Allen (groin) and Isaac Okoro (knee).
Randle remained in New York to receive treatment on his injured ankle. The Knicks will re-evaluate him in two weeks, ahead of the playoffs, which start on April 15 or 16.
Coach Tom Thibodeau said the 30-year-old forward, who started the Knicks’ first 77 games, is in good spirits and working toward his return.
‘He’s dealing with it fine,’ said Thibodeau, ‘He’s done all he can to prepare himself to play in every game, which is a credit to him. He doesn’t miss practice. He doesn’t miss games. I’m actually surprised it doesn’t happen more than it does.’
Brunson #11 of the New York Knicks shoots over Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cavaliers
LAKERS 123, TIMBERWOLVES 111
Anthony Davis scored 17 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter and had 17 rebounds to lift the Los Angeles Lakers past Minnesota 123-111 to leapfrog the Timberwolves on Friday night in the crowded Western Conference playoff race.
LeBron James added 18 points and 10 rebounds and D’Angelo Russell had 12 points and 10 assists against his former team as the Lakers (39-38) won for the fifth time in six games to move into seventh place. They’re even with New Orleans, owning the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Pelicans.
Mike Conley had 25 points on 7-for-11 shooting with seven assists before fouling out, and Karl-Anthony Towns scored 23 points for the Timberwolves (39-39), who tumbled into ninth place. They entered the evening one game behind Golden State and the cut to avoid the play-in tournament, with the Warriors tipping off later at home against San Antonio.
Davis scored 12 straight points for the Lakers over a 3:52 span late in the fourth quarter to seal the steely comeback from a deficit that hit 13 points shortly after halftime. He made five baskets in a row with Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert on the bench.
Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell (1) and forward Anthony Davis (3) react to a call during the second half
76ERS 117, RAPTORS 110
Joel Embiid had 25 points and 12 rebounds, James Harden had 23 points and 11 assists and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Toronto Raptors 117-110 on Friday night.
The Sixers made 30 of 39 shots (77%) in the first half and raced to a 24-point lead that nearly evaporated. Fred VanVleet, who scored 16 points, buried a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter that pulled the Raptors to 103-101 and silenced the sellout crowd.
Embiid, though, steadied the 76ers with a jumper and PJ Tucker buried a 3 that gave them some breathing room. Harden drove to the hoop for a bucket and a 110-101 edge that forced the Raptors to call timeout.
The Raptors didn’t have another run in them. Scottie Barnes scored 29 points and OG Anunoby had 19.
76ers’ Joel Embiid goes up to shoot against Raptors’ Pascal Siakam (43) and Jakob Poeltl (19)
MAGIC 116, WIZARDS 109
Paolo Banchero had 30 points and 12 rebounds, Markelle Fultz added 25 points and the Orlando Magic overcame a 16-point second half deficit to beat the Washington Wizards 116-109 on Friday night.
The Wizards managed only 13 points in the final quarter and fell to three games behind Chicago for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference with five games remaining. Orlando remained four games behind the Bulls, who routed Charlotte 121-91.
Washington was without its top three players – Bradley Beal (left knee), Kristaps Porzingis (illness) and Kyle Kuzma (right ankle).
Corey Kispert scored a career-high 27 points for Washington but did not manage a shot attempt in the fourth until the final minute. He made nine of the Wizards’ 17 3-pointers.
Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz (20) goes to the basket as Wizards center Daniel Gafford
NETS 124, HAWKS 107
Mikal Bridges had 42 points to continue his torrid scoring stretch in Brooklyn, and the Nets increased their lead for the final guaranteed playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by beating the Atlanta Hawks 124-107 on Friday night.
Dorrian Finney-Smith added 19 points in his best game with the Nets, who led by only four at halftime before outscoring the Hawks 42-24 in the third quarter to open a 101-79 lead. Brooklyn moved two games ahead of idle Miami for the No. 6 spot with five games to play.
Bridges surpassed 40 points for the second time in three games and the third time since coming to the Nets in February. He finished March with 461 points, the second-highest total by a Nets player in their NBA franchise history in a month beyond the 471 scored by Kevin Durant – the player traded by the Nets in the package for Bridges – last November.
Mikal Bridges (1) drives to the basket against Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson (1)
BULLS 121, HORNETS 91
Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan each scored 23 points and the Chicago Bulls routed the injury-plagued Charlotte Hornets 121-91 on Friday night to take a big step toward reaching the NBA’s play-in tournament.
Nikola Vucevic added 21 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls, who entered the game having lost three of their previous five games and clinging to the final spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament. However, Chicago’s win combined with the Orlando Magic’s 116-109 victory over Washington on Friday night leaves the Bulls three games head of the Wizards for the 10th spot in the East with five games remaining.
DeRozan said it’s vital the Bulls use this closing stretch to elevate their play if they want to make a postseason run.
Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) shoots over Charlotte Hornets forward JT Thor
PACERS 121, THUNDER 117
T.J. McConnell had 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, Jalen Smith added 12 points and 15 rebounds and the short-handed Indiana Pacers held off the playoff-hopeful Oklahoma City Thunder 121-117 on Friday night.
Playing without injured All-Star Tyrese Haliburton and starting center Myles Turner, the Pacers shot 46% and outrebounded the Thunder 64-49. They had lost six of their last seven.
Andrew Nembhard had 18 points and six rebounds for Indiana. Jordan Nwora, Isaiah Jackson and Buddy Hield each scored 13 points.
Pacers T.J. McConnell (9) shoots between Thunder Aleksej Pokusevski (17) and Ousmane Dieng
CELTICS 122, JAZZ 114
Jayson Tatum had 39 points and 11 assists and the Boston Celtics pushed past the Utah Jazz 122-114 on Friday night.
Malcolm Brogdon added 19 points and Derrick White finished with 17 as Boston continued to gain ground on the Milwaukee Bucks in the race for the Eastern Conference´s top playoff seed.
Boston had 17 3-pointers, including five by Tatum.
The Celtics (54-24) are 1 1/2 games behind Milwaukee (55-22) and were coming off a 41-point win over the Bucks on Thursday. Milwaukee is off until Sunday, when it hosts the 76ers. The Celtics have four games remaining.
Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, front left, drives past Utah Jazz’s Simone Fontecchio (16)
ROCKETS 121, SUNS 115
Kevin Porter Jr. scored 30 points and Jalen Green added 26 to help the Houston Rockets end their seven-game losing streak with a 121-115 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.
Porter shot 12 of 20 from the field and made seven 3-pointers, the last of which put Houston up by six with less than a minute to play. It marked the first time this season Porter scored 30 or more points in consecutive games. Meanwhile, Green was 10 of 18 on field goals.
Marvin Bagley III scored 21 points and Jaden Ivey added 18 points and nine assists for Detroit, which lost its eighth in a row and 19th in the last 20 games.
Rockets guards Jalen Green (L) and Kevin Porter Jr. (R) celebrate against the Detroit Pistons
GRIZZLIES 108, CLIPPERS 94
Desmond Bane scored 22 points and Luke Kennard had 17 as the Memphis Grizzlies overcame a 20-point first-half deficit and beat the Los Angeles Clippers 108-94 on Friday night.
Kennard keyed a second-quarter rally with four 3-pointers and finished the game with five against his former team. Kennard was traded to Memphis on Feb. 9 as part of a three-team deal.
The Grizzlies eventually built a 22-point lead early in the fourth quarter following Bane’s steal under the Clippers´ basket and a driving layup.
Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks (24) dunks over Los Angeles Clippers guard Bones Hyland
KINGS 123, BLAZERS 114
De’Aaron Fox had 20 points and 11 assists and the playoff-bound Sacramento Kings won their second consecutive game against Portland Trail Blazers 138-114 on Friday night.
Malik Monk had 20 off the bench for the Kings, who had already secured their first postseason berth since 2006 and home-court advantage for the playoffs with a 120-80 rout of the Trail Blazers on Wednesday. Domantas Sabonis added 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Shaedon Sharpe had 27 points for Portland, which has won just one of their last 12. The Blazers were officially eliminated earlier in the night when the Los Angeles Lakers beat Minnesota 123-111.
De’Aaron Fox #5 of the Kings shoots the ball during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers
WARRIORS 130, SPURS 115
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole combined for 20 3-pointers with Curry scoring 33 points, Thompson 31 and Poole 27 to send the Golden State Warriors past the San Antonio Spurs 130-115 on Friday night.
Poole’s first of six 3s gave Golden State three players with 200 or more 3-pointers this season – only the second team to do so. Just one other 3 was made by the rest of Golden State’s players all night.
Curry shot 11 for 21 and 7 of 11 from deep, and Thompson also hit seven 3s as the defending champions stayed put in sixth place in the Western Conference standings. They have an identical 41-37 record to the fifth-place Clippers, who hold the tiebreaker based on divisional record.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots against San Antonio Spurs guard Malaki Branham
SUNS 100, NUGGETS 93
The Phoenix Suns recorded a 100-93 win against the Denver Nuggets on Friday night as Nikola Jokic once again sat out with a tight calf.
Kevin Durant led the Suns in points with 30, while Devin Booker was not far behind with 27.
Aaron Gordon led the way for the Nuggets with 26 points, however it could not make up for their missing MVP candidate.
Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) watches as guard Devin Booker (1) shoots a free throw