• From North Philly, to your city! Welcome back Kyle La-La-La-Lowryyyyyyy! It’s good to have Lowry back with the Raptors and on that note, I have to say that they are toughest challenge the Cavaliers will have to face in the East. You can say what you want, the Raptors have all the pieces to make things tough for them from the inside out. I expect the two teams to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. As for the West, Damian Lillard will lead his Trail Blazers into the playoffs. Losing Jusuf Nurkic was a big blow, but sometimes an injury can rally a team together and this is that time. Anyways, on a busy Friday night of NBA action, Hoop-Ball has got you covered! The Jazz clinch the Northwest Division Title, the Nuggets continue their race for eighth, and Russell Westbrook accomplishes triple-double average for the entire season! Fantasy season is almost over so let’s hop right into Saturday’s Daily Dish! Also follow @HoopBallTweets for up to the minute updates or hit me up on Twitter (@NguyenTDanh) if you have any questions!

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    Hawks 114, Cavs 100

    The Hawks were able to top the defending champions tonight thanks to the efforts of one, Tim Hardaway Jr. He notched 22 points (four treys) to go with two rebounds, five assists and one steal, and was their main source of offense tonight. The Hawks actually rested four of their five main starters tonight and still pulled out a victory. Mike Dunleavy also exploded for 20 points (four treys) and one steal, but this is unlikely to happen again.

    Ersan Ilyasova had a respectable 13 points, seven rebounds and one steal. Taurean Prince struggled with his shot tonight and only managed five points, four rebounds and one steal. Jose Calderon got the start at point guard and finished with just seven points, four rebounds and seven assists. The starters will likely be back next game so there’s no reason for owners to worry.

    Just when you thought the Cavaliers were about to end the season off on a high note, they suffer an embarrassing loss to a shorthanded Hawks squad. Despite the loss, LeBron James still had a monstrous night with 27 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals. The King surely isn’t happy about this loss and will look to rally his troops for next game. Kevin Love didn’t shoot too well tonight (6-of-17) but still managed to have a decent game with 15 points (three treys), 15 rebounds and three assists. Kyrie Irving chipped in with 18 points and seven assists, while Channing Frye continues to fill in admirably for Tristan Thompson, going for 16 points (two treys), five rebounds and two blocks.

    Raptors 96, Heat 94

    This was a tight game all the way up to the final buzzer. DeMar DeRozan helped the Raptors hold off the Heat with his 38 points, six rebounds, one steal and one block. DeBo put on a show tonight after struggling in his previous outing against the Pistons. Kyle Lowry was the one who struggled tonight, scoring just 12 points to go with seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. It’s only his second game back so we should cut him some slack. Once the All-Star backcourt starts to pick it up consistently, the Eastern Conference should be on the lookout.

    Cory Joseph did a bit of everything in Friday’s win, posting 14 points (two treys), four rebounds, three assists and three steals. He’s back to his primary roll as backup point guard but still managed to have a solid night off the bench. Serge Ibaka (11 points, nine rebounds and one block) and Jonas Valanciunas (nine points, 10 rebounds and two blocks) both narrowly missed out on a double-double tonight but did enough to help the Raptors come out with the W.

    James Johnson and Hassan Whiteside did most of the heavy-lifting for the Heat tonight. Johnson double-doubled with 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks, while Whiteside also double-doubled with 12 points and 10 rebounds. While those two put in work throughout the game, Wayne Ellington actually caught fire from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter to help keep the game close. Ellington scored 12 points (four treys) but it wasn’t enough for the Heat tonight. Goran Dragic also added in 18 points but not much else.

    Grizzlies 101, Knicks 88

    This was an easy victory for the Grizzlies as the Knicks were without Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Mike Conley torched the Knicks for 31 points (seven treys), three rebounds, six assists and one steal, and there was simply no one that could guard him. Marc Gasol backed him up with a double-double, scoring 16 points (two treys) with 10 rebounds and three blocks. It looks as though the Grizzlies will end up with the seventh seed so players could be looking at another rest day before the playoffs start.

    There wasn’t much going on for the Knicks tonight but Justin Holiday did draw a start and finished with a respectable 12 points (two treys), two boards, two assists and three steals. Holiday will likely head back to the bench once Melo returns so don’t get your hopes up yet. Maurice Ndour also played well in his start today, scoring 15 points with seven boards, one steal and three blocks. Ndour and Willy Hernangomez (11 points, 10 rebounds and two steals) could be looking at some big minutes in the final two games so hopefully they capitalize on this opportunity. Courtney Lee also chipped in an efficient 16 points and one steal. The next gam the Knicks play will be Sunday against the Raptors.

    Pistons 114, Rockets 109

    Looks like the Pistons are still battling till the very end, earning a surprising win over the Rockets tonight. Henry Ellenson got the start tonight and boy did he deliver, posting 15 points, 11 rebounds and one block. He could be looking at a bigger role with the team next year, depending on what’s done in the offseason. Ish Smith was feeling it tonight, scoring 20 points with five assists. It looks as though this will be his team to lead with Reggie Jackson now on the sideline. Stanley Johnson was actually the hero today for the Knicks, scoring a late trey that put them over the top. Johnson finished the game with 13 points (three treys), four boards and four assists.

    Boban Marjanovic was a beast off the bench for Pistons tonight, scoring 27 points with 12 rebounds. Stan Van Gundy mentioned that he’d like to get Boban more minutes down the stretch and this looks like a good start to that. Andre Drummond was disappointing with just eight points and nine boards, while Marcus Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope both put up duds, scoring two points apiece.

    James Harden tried to will his team to a victory with 33 points (seven treys), nine rebounds and 12 assists, but it wasn’t enough. With the MVP race being so tight, this shocking loss to the Pistons could affect the results. Most of the Rockets were cold tonight, Ryan Anderson with nine points, Trevor Ariza with six, Patrick Beverley also with six, but did grab 13 rebounds. Montrezl Harrell got it going with 13 points and a pair of blocks. He’ll be looking at some nice minutes in the next two games with injuries to some of their big men. Expect them to pick things up in their next game.

    Spurs 102, Mavs 89

    The Spurs second unit got the job done tonight and it looks like the real MVP is Gregg Popovich. Pop always gets the most out of all his players, including Bryn Forbes who erupted for a career-high 27 points (four treys) on Friday. He also added three rebounds and six assists in what’s likely a one-off performance. Davis Bertans remained hot against the Mavs, notching 19 points (five treys) and two steals.

    Kyle Anderson chipped in with a little bit of everything tonight, recording nine points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks. He hasn’t lived up to his expectations this season but for tonight, he did. David Lee posted a big double-double in his extra minutes tonight, scoring 16 points with 13 rebounds and five assists. Dewayne Dedmon put up a double-double as well, scoring 10 points with 13 rebounds. Pop must be feeling good right now.

    The Mavs couldn’t get it going Friday night and it showed in the box scores. Dwight Powell was the leading scorer on the team with 12 points off the bench, and that pretty much sums up their night. Nerlens Noel scored eight points with nine rebounds, while Dirk Nowitzki added his own eight points with three blocks. Rick Carlisle played 13 players tonight and we can expect the same in the final games of the season.

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    Nuggets 122, Pelicans 106

    The Nuggets are keeping pace with the Trail Blazers for that eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference after tonight’s convincing win over the Pelicans. The Canadian kid Jamal Murray dropped a career-high 30 points (two treys) to go with four rebounds, five assists and two steals. He simply couldn’t miss tonight and the Nuggets couldn’t have asked for a better time for him to get hot. Nikola Jokic did his part in this victory as well, notching 23 points (two treys), 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Gary Harris had some fun of his own as well, dropping 20 points (three treys), six boards, nine assists and one steal. Get them Nuggets.

    Anthony Davis led the way for the Pelicans with 25 points, six rebounds and one steal. It was an off night for The Brow in terms of his defensive stats, but owners couldn’t have asked for more from him this entire season. He also didn’t get much help from his team besides Jordan Crawford and Alexis Ajinca. Crawford dropped 20 points off the bench with three assists and one steal, while Ajinca had a solid 15 points, seven rebounds, one steal and one block. Pelicans have a lot of work to do this offseason.

    Jazz 120, Timberwolves 113

    With this victory, the Jazz officially clinched the Northwest Division title on Friday in which Gordon Hayward scored a career-high 39 points (four treys). He also added three boards, five assists and two steals, and has led this team the entire way this season. The Utah faithful have already started this campaign to keep Hayward in Utah and with the way the team has been improving, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for him to leave. Derrick Favors returned from a 13-game absence and scored 13 points with five rebounds and one steal in 17 minutes. Considering how long he’s been out of action, this was a nice performance off the bench for the big man.

    Joe Johnson turned back the clock Friday nigh with 22 points (four treys), one steal and one block. ISO-Joe was efficient tonight and the veteran swingman will look to play an important role in the playoffs. Dante Exum drew the start for an injured George Hill but Shelvin Mack wound up playing more minutes. Both players didn’t do much combing for 12 points so Hill has nothing to worry about. As for Rudy Gobert, he had a quiet night with just 16 points, five rebounds and two blocks.

    Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins continue to drop buckets but to no avail. KAT scored 32 points (three treys) with 13 rebounds and one steal, while Wiggins added 25 points and five rebounds. It’s clear that Towns is the better player and can provide way more versatility than Wiggins can. Both will need to learn to hustle on defense and team chemistry if they want to start getting more than just buckets. Ricky Rubio continues his magnificent second half of the season with 26 points, three rebounds and 12 dimes. Those who were patient with him know how valuable he is in fantasy and reality. Gorgui Dieng remained quiet with just six points.

    Suns 120, Thunder 99

    The young Suns blew the Thunder out of the water tonight and also denied Russell Westbrook of his 42nd triple-double of the season. Devin Booker came out with another impressive game tonight, compiling 37 points (five treys), five rebounds, four assists and one steal. Booker is the truth. T.J. Warren was fantastic as well, dropping 23 points with 16 rebounds and one block. Both guys lit the Thunder up and it was clear their defense was suspicious this game. Tyler Ulis played 39 minutes tonight but only produced 12 points, five assists and two steals. He was going up against Russ so we’ll give him a pass.

    Westbrook couldn’t get his shot going tonight (6-of-25) and basically shot his team out of the game. He still finished with 23 points (two treys), 12 rebounds, eight assists and one block, but his 42nd triple is now on hold for yet another game. Steven Adams (12 points and 11 rebounds) and Enes Kanter (17 points and four rebounds) both played well today despite their recent funk. Overall, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that WestBeast completed his triple-double average for the season tonight. The bad news is, no one is safe as he hunts down his 42nd triple-double.

    Lakers 98, Kings 94

    This was a hard-earned victory for the Lakers tonight and some may also say it was an unnecessary win with a very important draft pick on the line. Regardless, Julius Randle did work tonight, scoring 25 points to go with six rebounds and two assists. It was one of those rare nights where he led the team in scoring and it worked out. Brandon Ingram posted 14 points and two steals in his 25 minutes of action and his knee looked fine.

    The Kings’ big men looked great tonight despite the loss. Skal Labissiere notched 19 points, three rebounds, one steal and two blocks, while Willie Cauley-Stein had 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. It’s fun watching these two on the court and if the Thin Towers can develop properly, look out! Georgios Papagiannis came off the bench and posted a double-double, scored 10 points and 10 rebounds. This could be a common thing if he gets the right amount of minutes. As for the Kings’ backcourt, Buddy Hield scored 17 points (three treys) with one steal, while Darren Collison had 15 points, five rebounds, 10 assists and one steal. The potential is there for the Kings, but will they take advantage of it? Find out next season of Kangz.

    That’ll do it for Saturday’s dish. Thank you to all the readers and subscribers! Cheers! #HoopBall #WeTheNorth

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