Recapping Week 25 in NBA: Season's finish line approaches

Take a look back at the week that was in the NBA with a collection of some of the best games, videos, photos, features and more from around the NBA world.

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Games of the Week

Thunder 119, Lakers 103 — The death of Nipsey Hussle was felt throughout the NBA community. For one player, his next game was the stage he need to pay tribute to the slain rapper. Russell Westbrook became the second player in league history to have 20 or more points, rebounds and assists in a game, finishing with 20 points, 20 rebounds and 21 assists. Wilt Chamberlain was the only other player to accomplish the feat.


Warriors 116, Nuggets 102 — For all that Denver has accomplished this season, it can claim only one win against the defending champs in the regular season. Golden State sent another message to the upstart Nuggets on Tuesday night, drubbing them behind DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant in a win that helped pave the way for the Warriors to lock up the No. 1 seed later in the week.

Bucks 128, Sixers 122 — In a matchup many are hoping for a replay of in the playoffs, Giannis Antetokounmpo outdueled fellow Kia MVP candidate Joel Embiid, finishing with 45 points and 13 rebounds and leading Milwaukee to a 128-122 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night. In doing so, the Bucks clinched the top spot in the conference and the top overall top seed in the upcoming playoffs..

Pacers 108, Pistons 89 — Indiana has struggled since the All-Star break, going 8-12 heading into this Tuesday matchup. Thanks to Thaddeus Young’s 21 points, the Pacers snapped a 10-game losing streak on the road and won for just the third time in their last 10 games overall. As for Detroit, this was the first loss in a week that saw them go 0-4 at the worst time of the season.

Hornets 113, Raptors 111 — Jeremy Lamb, expect to see your clutch rating rise in “NBA 2K20.” Two weeks after sinking the Raptors with a miraculous buzzer-beater in Toronto, he did so again on Friday with a clutch 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds left. The win proved crucial to Charlotte and it’s hanging-by-a-thread playoff hopes as a critical weekend (and week) loomed.

Thunder 123, Pistons 110 — OKC’s do-it-all guard did it again, locking up a third straight season averaging a triple-double. Russell Westbrook crossed that threshold on Friday against the Pistons, finishing with 19 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds that assured him of that statistical feat. While the Thunder are still trying to figure out their playoff future, this feat no doubt further adds to the standout lore Westbrook has already crafted in the NBA.

Bucks 115, Hawks 107 — For the first time since the 1980-81 season, Milwaukee has a 60-win squad on its hands. While this win wasn’t anything spectacular in and of itself, it was good to see the Bucks accomplish their stated goal of 60 wins while methodically picking apart a lesser opponent. Teams that have designs on a title run do that sort of thing down the stretch of the season all the time.

Raptors 117, Heat 109 (OT) — On a 14-game Sunday, Miami was up first and had much to prove in its chase for a playoff spot. After falling in this game — and combined with other results that day — it was in a dire spot as Week 26 of the NBA approached. The road for Dwyane Wade and his “#OneLastDance” campaign to finish with a postseason spot got decidedly tougher with this overtime defeat.

Hornets 104, Pistons 91 — Detroit spent better part of last week celebrating its past title teams from the late 1980s and 2004. They could have used some defense from those squads in this game on Sunday. Kemba Walker lit up the Pistons for 31 points to keep Charlotte’s fading playoff hopes afloat while dealing a serious blow to Detroit’s with this big road win.

Nets 108, Pacers 96 — Fans of the teams out of the playoffs, take heart and look to Brooklyn. This win on Sunday wrapped up a playoff berth for it, capping off a lonnng road back to the postseason for a franchise that was a laughing stock just two or three seasons ago. Behind All-Star D’Angelo Russell, the Nets have something to look forward in mid-April and a brighter future in the months beyond that, too.

Magic 116, Celtics 108 — Much like the Nets, the Magic had been mired in a lengthy playoff-less drought. It was fitting, then, that Orlando’s playoff absence came to an end on the same day Brooklyn’s did. Nikola Vucevic showed why he’s a legit go-to guy in the NBA, powering the Magic to a huge road win that wrapped up the team’s first playoff berth since 2011-12.

Rockets 149, Suns 113 — On a routine night at the office for James Harden (30 points), the Rockets at large took center stage. Houston broke its NBA record by making 27 3-pointers in a 149-113 win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night. Houston has made 26 twice this season with the last time coming Tuesday at Sacramento.

Warriors 131, Clippers 104 — This game proved to be a two-fold memorable moment for the defending champs. First, the Warriors locked up the No. 1 overall seed in the Western Conference behind Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Co. Then, they paid homage to Oracle Arena in what was the regular-season finale for the building Golden State has called home the last 47 seasons. In the weeks, months and years to come, this will go down as one of the top moments of the franchise’s recent golden era.

Stat Lines of the Week

Russell Westbrook (20 points, 8-23 FG, 20 reb, 21 ast, 3 stl in 36 minutes) — Though Westbrook struggled from the field early, the OKC superstar was dazzling all night as he pulled off a feat that hadn’t been seen since Wilt Chamberlain graced the NBA. His 20-20-20 game was more than just another statistical feat for a player who has racked up dozens of them over the last few seasons. | Watch | Video box score

DeMarcus Cousins (28 points, 12-17 FG, 13 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk in 28 minutes) — Thanks to the play of their big man, the Warriors hardly even noticed Kevin Durant’s ejection from Tuesday’s showdown with Denver. Cousins had his way with Denver and its All-Star center, Nikola Jokic, while giving the Warriors reason for hope (and the rest of the West reason to worry about) of another long playoff run. | Watch | Video box score

Trae Young (33 points, 12-18 FG, 7 reb, 12 ast in 32 minutes) — At this stage of the season, a player will take any advantage they can get when it comes to swaying voters for major NBA awards. That fact continues to drive the Hawks’ rookie guard, who has vaulted himself into Luka Doncic’s atmosphere in the Kia Rookie of the Year chase. Performances like the one he turned in Wednesday against the Sixers may only help his cause further. | Watch | Video box score

Giannis Antetokounmpo (45 points, 13-22 FG, 13 reb, 6 ast in 34 minutes) — The Bucks’ superstar has been nothing short of brilliant, scoring 25 or more points and 10-plus rebounds in 42 games this season. His most recent such performance came on Thursday against a fellow Kia MVP hopeful (Joel Embiid) in a thrilling game the injury-plagued Bucks rallied to win. | Watch | Video box score

Kemba Walker (31 points, 11-29 FG, 8 reb, 7 ast in 40 minutes) — One of the telltale signs of a true superstar in the NBA is their ability to lift a team when it needs him to do so most. Walker exemplified that on Sunday night, getting Charlotte past Detroit in a game that, had it lost, could have spelled the end of the Hornets’ fast-fading playoff hopes. | Watch | Video box score

D’Angelo Russell (20 points, 7-15 FG, 6 reb, 6 ast in 29 minutes) — The Nets were in control of their game Sunday against the Pacers, clinching both a victory and a 2019 playoff spot in the process. Russell led a balanced Brooklyn effort, but it was his heart and solid all-around play that put an end to a long playoff drought to give New York a playoff team this season. | Watch | Video box score

Nikola Vucevic (25 points, 12-22 FG, 12 reb, 4 ast, 2 blk in 33 minutes) — Orlando’s All-Star big man has the numbers to back up his status as such, logging his 60th double-double of 2018-19 in a win Sunday. Now, he will have a chance to prove to those who haven’t been watching just how skilled of a center he is after the Magic locked up a playoff berth (and the Southeast Division title) in Boston. | Watch | Video box score

Best plays from Week 25

Quotes of the Week

“Man, Kemba made a great pass, and everybody said if I get it, shoot it. I just tried to shoot it with confidence.” — Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb, on his game-winning shot Friday vs. Toronto

“I take it one day at a time. That’s it, man. That’s it. It’ll hit me at some point, just like it’s going to hit everyone else in this room, too.” — Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, on averaging a triple-double for a third straight season

“Let me just say that for 47 years, Warriors fans have stuck with us through thick and thin. Let’s be honest, most of those years have been a little thin.” — Warriors coach Steve Kerr, to Warriors fans after the regular-season finale at Oracle Arena

“It’s an amazing feeling. Nobody knows what I’ve been through in the last six years here, just through all the losing, the struggling, the doubting. It’s been very difficult for me at times. It paid off in a great way, man, just to come in here in this building and beat a great Celtics team and to make it.” — Magic center Nikola Vucevic, after the team clinched a playoff berth on Sunday

“It means a lot, obviously to exceed expectations for a lot of us in here, to see how far we’ve come. It means a ton. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come for this organization.” — Nets guard Joe Harris, after the team clinched a playoff berth on Sunday

“Going to The Finals, losing in The Finals, getting traded, coming back, injuries this year. I think with all these highs and lows, I’ve seen the best of Cleveland and I’ve seen the best of the fans. I think that’s why I’m endearing to them. A lot of people say, `I love our fans.’ I legitimately love our fans.” — Cavs center Channing Frye, who will retire after season’s end

“I’m not saying we want people to score 50 on us, but we want to protect the paint and protect from the shooters. If a guy is able to handle the ball and hit contested shots all night, I just clap my hands. … I just care if we win.” — Jazz center Rudy Gobert

“I’m not going to try to put it into words but like I said on the floor, that’s who it’s for. I’m going to leave it at that.” — Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who dedicated his 20-20-20 game to slain rapper Nipsey Hussle.

“I’m surprised they haven’t done it earlier because the 14 points a game I averaged was pretty awesome. All 37 fans every game had a hell of a night and really cheered for me. It’s amazing it took so long. … In all seriousness, anything that has anything to do with the Academy is a thrill and an honor.” — Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who will soon be inducted into the Air Force Academy’s athletics hall of fame

“Just laughing and joking and catching up … Everybody’s so interested, especially in LeBron. So whoever he talks to, the lip readers are going to try to figure it out. You guys are just infatuated with that whole thing.” — Warriors forward Kevin Durant, talking to reporters about his in-game discussion with LeBron James

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