In an incredibly physical game between two of the East’s perennial playoff teams, it was Charlotte Hornets rookie PJ Washington that would be the deciding factor.
Washington was clutch down the stretch, scoring 26 points on 9-12 shooting to lead the Hornets to a comeback victory over the Detroit Pistons in a 110-107 road victory.
The Hornets closed the game out on a 15-4 run, with Washington accounting for 8 of those points and made a clutch steal with only 33 seconds left off.
Charlotte big man Bismack Biyambo was vital on the defensive end, taking an offensive foul and blocking the Pistons’ powerful center Andre Drummond in the last two minutes to help seal the game for the Hornets.
Hornets guard Terry Rozier also added 23 points, while Devonte’ Graham knocked down four three-pointers to go along with his 16 points.
For the Pistons, Derrick Rose provided a spark for Detroit off the bench, scoring a team-high 23 points on 8-12 shooting.
Despite his shortcomings in the final minutes, Drummond, who leads the NBA in rebounds with 17 per game, provided another monster double-double for the Pistons, recording 15 points and 19 rebounds.
The win was crucial for the Hornets as it moved them to eight in the Eastern Conference standings and playoff position.
Meanwhile, Detroit continues to disappoint with their 6-13 overall record and are twelfth in the East, as, with their big man combination of Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, they were previously were projected to be a playoff team.
Dion Waiters Suspended For the Third Time This Season
Dion Waiters can’t seem to get of his own way, as the seven-year veteran is stuck in the doghouse in Miami.
Waiters has yet to hit the floor for what would be his eighth NBA season, as he has been suspended multiple times and has fallen out of the rotation altogether.
Now Waiters has been suspended by the Heat for the third time, giving him a six-game suspension for “continued insubordination”.
Waiters probably won’t get any playing time this year even if he can avoid these suspensions, as rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn have taken his minutes in the guard rotation.
Miami has also gotten great play out of Duncan Robinson, while still getting steady contributions from Goran Dragic off the bench. Not to mention Jimmy Butler, who has given the Heat a superstar to rally around.
All of those players are soaking up the backcourt minutes for a Heat team that is currently 18-6 and tied for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
Miami would love nothing more than to trade Waiters, but there are few teams that would willingly take on a player who has been suspended multiple times.
Especially when that player is making over $12 million annually over the next two seasons.
For the Heat, they are at least recouping some of that money through these suspensions as Waiters has cost himself north of $2.5 million if you count the games played bonus he missed.
At this point Waiters has to just ride out this season and hope that another team gives him a chance once his contract becomes an expiring deal next year.
Until then, this unhappy marriage between the Miami Heat and Dion Waiters must continue.
BREAKING: Former NBA Commissioner David Stern Undergoes Emergency Brain Surgery
Former NBA Commissioner David Stern underwent emergency surgery for sudden brain hemorrhaging, per an official statement from the NBA.
Stern was rushed to the hospital after collapsing at a Manhattan restaurant Thursday night.
Stern was the NBA’s longest tenured league commissioner, serving from 1984-2014.
Harden Drops 55 As The Rockets Survive The Cavaliers 116-110
For years, NBA All-Star James Harden has been criticized for relying too much on drawing fouls to score.
On Thursday night, Harden proved he can deliver without them, scoring 55 points on only five free-throw attempts in the Houston Rockets 116-110 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Harden drilled 10 three-pointers and scored 20 of his points in the fourth quarter, with the Rockets needing every bucket to hold off the upset-minded Cavaliers.
Houston guard Russell Westbrook also added 23 points while PJ Tucker sealed the game with a big three-pointer with 37 seconds to go.
Rookie Kevin Porter Jr. was the catalyst for Cleveland, scoring a career-high 24 points off the bench.
NBA All-Star Kevin Love recorded a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Cavaliers, as recent trade rumors appear Love’s days with the franchise might be numbered.
However, the combined effort of both Kevins was overshadowed by another offensive outburst from Harden, as the league’s leading scorer hopes to bring home another MVP award.
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