Eric Bledsoe stole the spotlight from the MVP front-runners, and the Milwaukee Bucks coasted to a 108-94 victory over the visiting Houston Rockets on Tuesday.
Bledsoe paired 23 points with seven assists and was the catalyst during a third-quarter run that enabled the Bucks to seize control. He scored 16 consecutive points for Milwaukee during one stretch, sinking four 3-pointers, as the Bucks extended a five-point lead into a 79-65 advantage.
Rockets guard James Harden and Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo were relatively quiet. Harden posted 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists but shot 1 of 9 from 3-point range. Antetokounmpo tallied 19 points and 14 rebounds with five turnovers.
Harden, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker shot a combined 2 of 22 from beyond the 3-point arc for Houston.
Celtics 116, Cavaliers 106
Al Horford broke a fourth-quarter tie with a layup and capped a 14-4 run with an alley-oop slam, helping visiting Boston brush aside Cleveland.
The win, paired with a later loss by the Detroit Pistons, allowed the Celtics to clinch a playoff berth for the fifth year in a row. Horford finished with 19 points and a team-high eight rebounds for Boston, which snapped a four-game losing streak.
With the Celtics giving Kyrie Irving a night off, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart shared team-high scoring honors with 21 points apiece. Collin Sexton had a game-high 24 points for the Cavaliers.
Clippers 122, Timberwolves 111
Danilo Gallinari scored 25 points, and Lou Williams added 20 as visiting Los Angeles officially clinched a playoff spot and increased its winning streak to six games by topping Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Montrezl Harrell scored 18 points for the Clippers. The lone downside for Los Angeles was that by clinching a postseason berth, the Clippers must give their 2019 first-round draft pick to the Boston Celtics to complete the Jeff Green trade of February 2016.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 24 points with 13 rebounds as the Timberwolves lost for the sixth time in their past seven games.
Hornets 125, Spurs 116 (OT)
Kemba Walker had 38 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds and was brilliant in overtime, and Charlotte remained red hot with a victory over visiting San Antonio.
Walker scored 11 of his points in overtime, including the Hornets’ first seven of the extra session, as Charlotte outscored the Spurs 19-10. The Hornets, who also got a career-high 24 points from Dwayne Bacon, claimed their fourth consecutive win, which is a first this season.
DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 30 points and grabbed eight rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and Marco Belinelli scored 17 and pulled down 10 boards.
Magic 104, Heat 99
Nikola Vucevic scored 18 of his team-high 24 points in the second half as Orlando defeated host Miami in a key contest. Both teams are battling for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, and the Magic vaulted over the Heat by a half-game in the standings.
Vucevic also added a game-high 16 rebounds and five assists, leading Orlando to its sixth straight win.
Miami, 10-5 in its past 15 games, was led by Dion Waiters, who scored a game-high 26 points. Reserve Dwyane Wade scored 22 points, including 18 in the second half.
Nuggets 95, Pistons 92
Jamal Murray scored 33 points, and host Denver built a 27-point halftime lead, then withstood a furious Detroit rally to claim a victory.
Nikola Jokic had 23 points and 15 rebounds for the Nuggets, who were outscored 53-29 in the second half.
The Pistons’ Blake Griffin had 29 points, 15 rebounds and five assists but missed a potential tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds. Reggie Jackson added 17 points, and Andre Drummond contributed 13 points and 17 rebounds.
Raptors 112, Bulls 103
Norman Powell had 20 points off the bench, and Serge Ibaka added 16 points and eight rebounds to help Toronto defeat visiting Chicago. The victory salvaged the final game of a three-game homestand after the Raptors had lost the first two.
Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry each added 14 points for the Raptors while Pascal Siakam had 13. OG Anunoby had 10 points for Toronto before he groggily left the court with assistance with 4:10 to play in the game after a collision.
Wayne Selden scored 20 points for the Bulls, and Shaquille Harrison added 15. Chicago has lost two in a row after winning the previous two games.
Hawks 130, Pelicans 120
Rookie Trae Young had 33 points and 12 assists as visiting Atlanta defeated New Orleans.
The Hawks earned their third consecutive victory to tie their longest winning streak of the season. DeAndre’ Bembry and Dewayne Dedmon added 18 points each for Atlanta.
Julius Randle scored 24 to lead the Pelicans, who lost for the ninth time in 10 games. Christian Wood, playing in his second game since being claimed off waivers, had a career-high 23 points. New Orleans’ Frank Jackson scored 20 before leaving the game after sustaining a concussion.
Lakers 124, Wizards 106
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shot 6-for-12 from 3-point distance and scored 29 points to help Los Angeles defeat visiting Washington. The Lakers won two in a row for the first time since mid-January.
LeBron James had 23 points and 14 assists, and JaVale McGee contributed 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks for the Lakers.
Bradley Beal scored 32 points for the Wizards, who lost their fifth straight game to match their longest streak of the season.
Kings 125, Mavericks 121
De’Aaron Fox scored 10 of Sacramento’s final 15 points in the last 2:27 as the visitors earned a victory at Dallas.
Fox finished with 23 points, eight assists and five rebounds. Buddy Hield had 17 points, going just 4 of 13 from the floor, but he hit a 3-pointer from the wing with 1:07 to go to retake the lead for the Kings, 119-116.
Rookie Luka Doncic led Dallas with 28 points and his seventh triple-double of the season. He wound up with 12 assists and 12 boards. His night could have been spectacular if not for missing all nine of his 3-point attempts.
—Field Level Media