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Western Conference Playoff Update | All The Favorites Win

by Kyle Ratke

Digital Content Manager


After Utah and San Antonio came away with wins (more on these shortly), it looked like we might have a game that would go the Timberwolves' way in Los Angeles. The Lakers led the Blazers 80-73 going into the fourth quarter.

But then the Blazers outscored the Lakers 35-23 in the fourth, 19 of those points coming from Damian Lillard. Most players would love to do that in an entire game, but this is the stuff we’ve grown used to from Lillard through the years. 

There’s good and bad news here for Timberwolves fans. The bad is that the Blazers improved to 38-26, up a game on the Wolves in the West. The Blazers sit in third place while the Wolves are in third. The good news is while the Wolves have a brutal stretch coming up, the Blazers have some tough games in their schedule as well, including the Warriors, Cavaliers, Rockets (twice), Celtics, Thunder, Pelicans, Spurs, Nuggets and Jazz. 

Portland’s seven-game winning streak will have to stop at some point. They play next tonight against the Knicks at home.

One Foul Away . . . And Another Step Back

The Grizzlies found themselves down four points with 5.9 seconds left in Monday night’s game against the Spurs in San Antonio.

Memphis was 18-44 on the season. Not much has gone right for the Grizzlies this season, so why not just give up?

Because Marc Gasol is a fighter, that’s why.

Gasol went up the court and heaved a one-handed, one-footed heave shot . . . And it went in off the glass. Plus, it looked like LaMarcus Aldridge fouled him. My roommate and I were convinced of it because that’s what happens when you’re a biased sports fan in moments like this.

But then we saw the replay (go to the 1:52 mark).  

Gasol leans into Aldridge, who’s playing middle-school level “STRAIGHT UP!” defense. Plus, he was on the line, so even if he was fouled, it would have been a three-point play which would have been more heartbreaking. The refs actually did Gasol, and Timberwolves fans indirectly, a favor.

The Spurs move to 37-27 overall, 0.2 percentage points above the Wolves. They have quite the gauntlet upcoming, with three road games against the Warriors, Thunder and Rockets. 

Music Over Magic 

Orlando had its moment against the Jazz in Utah on Monday night. That came in the first 12 minutes when it outscored the Jazz 29-25. But after that the Magic would score just 51 more points, which is generally not enough to win an NBA basketball game.

The Jazz scored 94 points, which is sometimes not enough to win an NBA game, but on this night it was enough. 

Joe Ingles, who also looks like your best friend, cousin and coworker, finished with a near triple-double of 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. 

With the win, Utah moves to 34-30, 1.5 games back from the eighth spot in the West and three games behind the Wolves.

The Jazz have an upcoming three-game road stretch starting Wednesday against the Pacers, followed by the Grizzlies and Pelicans. 

We’ll preview Tuesday night’s games later this afternoon.