The Miami Heat, winner of the LA Clippers 121-114, and the Phoenix Suns, who beat Minnesota with the biggest score on Friday (134-124), continue the race for the lead in the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Jimmy Butler, with 26 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds, took Miami to victory in Florida, well supported by Gabe Vincent (23 pts) and Bam Adebayo (20 pts). The Heat, since its narrow defeat in Atlanta last Friday and despite a small relaxation in the last quarter, has just scored three successes and retains the chair of leader in the Western Conference, which it has occupied since Sunday.
In this conference, the title holders, the Milwaukee Bucks, did the good job of the evening: by largely dominating the New York Knicks 123-108, they went from 6th to 4th place in the standings. Giannis Antetokounmpo was brilliant in the ranks of the Bucks, scoring 38 points with a high shooting success rate (63.1%) and taking 13 rebounds.
In the West, the Phoenix Suns increased their number of victories in a row to nine. Devin Booker, despite a low percentage of success (38.5%), was the leading scorer of his team, NBA finalist last season, with 29 points. His teammate Chris Paul signed a triple double (21 pts, 14 assists, 10 rebounds).
The Timberwolves came within four lengths in the final quarter, at 108-112, but the Suns then responded with a 14-5 to pull back wide and never be caught again. Most of the leaders were on track in this conference on Friday, with the exception of Golden State.
In the match at the top between the Memphis Grizzlies (3rd) and the Utah Jazz (4th), the Grizzlies won 119-109 with a lively Ja Morant, author of a triple-double (30 pts, 10 rebounds and 10 passes). The Grizzlies have won 15 of their last 18 meetings. The Jazz, he concedes his fourth consecutive defeat but still retains his 4th place.
The Denver Nuggets, they continue their good series: they earned their fourth consecutive victory in New Orleans by beating the Pelicans 116-105, and occupy the 6th rank. Nikola Jokic, the interior of the Nuggets, split a triple double with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
As for the Lakers, still orphaned by their superstar LeBron James, injured in the knee, they gave in to Charlotte, where the Hornets won on the wire (117-114). The Hornets led by 16 lengths at the halfway point. Despite a burst of pride from the Lakers in a third quarter that they won 36-22, Charlotte held on until the end, thanks to a well-established collective with four players at 20 points or more. Opposite, Russell Westbrook could not bring Los Angeles to victory, despite his 35 points.