The Brooklyn Nets tightened the screws on the Philadelphia 76ers in the race for leadership of the Eastern District, beating hosts New Orleans Pelicans 134-129 in the NBA. With James Harden still absent, Carrie Irving played the main role in the 39th win, putting him only half a match away from the leaders of the Sixers. Irving scored 32 points and was actively supported by Joe Harris, who crowned his 24 points with two free throws in the deadly time of the match, in which the guests relied in their last seconds on deliberately making mistakes on Pelicans players to prevent them from trying to shoot from outside the arc and equalize the score. Thus, the Nets recovered their agonizing loss in their last game against the Miami Heat by two points. Among the ranks of the Nets, along with Irving and Harris, were Landry Schemt (18 points with 8 assists), Blake Griffin (16 points) and Bruce Brown (11 points) in a meeting that Pelicans started with a clear advantage after he advanced by 13 points 21-8 in the middle of the first quarter. Following a trilogy by Eric Bledsoo. But Nets returned from afar and narrowed the difference to three points at the end of the quarter after a hat-trick from Griffin, and then to two points at the end of the first half, 57-59, after another hat-trick, this time for Brown. Nets seemed to take over in the middle of the third quarter when Harris scored 8 points, including two triples, in a series of 16 points for his team versus just two for his host, allowing Nash’s men to lead 75-66 then 83-71. However, Lonzo Ball scored seven points in a 14-point series for Pelicans against just 4 for his guest, narrowing the gap to just two points from 87-89 at the end of the quarter.
The result remained close in the last quarter, until Irving gave his word at the crucial time, scoring a basket and four free throws in the last minute of the match.
In another meeting, Paul George led the Los Angeles Clippers to their ninth victory in the last 10 games and forty-first this season, scoring 33 points, including two free throws in the last 4.8 seconds, which clinched the confrontation against the host Portland Trail Blazers 113-112. George also achieved 11 follow-ups in a match during which the Clippers missed his other star, Kawai Lennard, due to injury, but that did not prevent him from achieving his sixth successive victory over the Blazers. CJ McCollum was the best of the Blazers with 28 points but failed to try to give his side a win in the final second of the game.
In the absence of the team’s absolute star Damien Lillard for the third match in a row due to a muscle injury, Norman Powell emerged alongside McCollum by scoring 23 points without this being enough to spare his team a twenty-fifth defeat in 57 games.
On another streak, RJ Barrett scored 18 of his 24 points in the third quarter, to play the main role in leading the New York Knicks to their seventh successive and thirty-second victory in 59 matches, and came at the expense of their guest Charlotte Hornets 109-97. The Knicks will try to equalize this series when they face the Atlanta Hawks, fourth in the Eastern District and the winner in turn over the Orlando Magic 112-96. Carl Anthony Towns led the Minnesota Timberwolves to the bottom of the Western Conference standings by beating the Sacramento Kings 134-120, scoring 26 points with 18 rebounds and 5 assists.