The Atlanta Hawks inch closer to securing homecourt advantage in the first round as they defeat their possible first round opponent, the Boston Celtics at Philips Arena 97-92. With the win, the Hawks improve to 38-25. While the Celtics drop to 37-27, they hold the 4th seed since they won the Atlantic Division. However, they may have to deal with a homecourt disadvantage since the Hawks who are currently 5th have a better record than the Celtics by 1.5 games.
The Hawks were led by Joe Johnson with 30 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. Josh Smith finished with a double-double 19 points and 12 rebounds with 3 steals and 3 blocks. Kirk Hinrich, Willie Green and Jason Collins each scored 8.
The Celtics who were playing without their Big 4 of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were led by Avery Bradley with 28 points and 4 steals. Keyon Dooling scored 17. Marquis Daniels added 12 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals off the bench. Brandon Bass added 10 points and 5 rebounds.
Tony Parker defended by Ramon Sessions
The San Antonio Spurs spoil the return of Kobe Bryant to the Los Angeles Lakers lineup with a victory at the AT&T Center 121-97. With the victory the Spurs maintain their hold on 1st place in the Western Conference at 46-16 holding to a 0.5 game advantage over the Oklahoma City Thunder. While the Lakers drop to 40-24 holding to the 3rd seed with a 0.5 game lead over their cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Spurs were led by Tim Duncan with21 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Tony Parker finishedwith a double-double 20 points and 10 assists with 2 steals. Manu Ginobili off the bench also scored 20 with 6 rebounds and 7assists. Gary Neal scored 12.
The Lakers were led by Kobe Bryant with 18 points. Andrew Bynum scored 17. Matt Barnes added 14 points and 5 rebounds. Pau Gasol added11 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Metta World Peace added 10points and 3 steals.
In Charlotte, the Memphis Grizzlies extend the losing streak of the Charlotte Bobcats to 19 games with the victory at Time Warner Cable Arena 85-80. Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 20 points, 7 assists and 3 steals. Zach Randolph added 14 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo and Dante Cunningham each scored 9 points. Gerald Henderson led the Bobcats with 32 points and 2 steals. Rookie Kemba Walker, Derrick Brown and Byron Mullens each scored 11.
In Cleveland, the Cleveland Cavaliers stun the New York Knicks at the Quicken Loans Arena 98-90. Rookie Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 21 points. Manny Harris finished with a double-double 19 points and 12 rebounds. Samardo Samuels added 15 points and 2 blocks off the bench. Another rookie Tristan Thompson added 10 points and 6 rebounds. Amar’e Stoudemire who returned to the lineup after an injury led the Knicks with 15 points and 4 blocks. Steve Novak also scored 15 off the bench. Carmelo Anthony and Mike Bibby each scored 12. J.R. Smith added 11 points and 6 rebounds.
In Dallas, the defending champion DallasMavericks pick up a 10 point win over the Golden State Warriors at the American Airlines Center 104-94. Vince Carter off the bench led the Mavericks with 19 points and 9rebounds. Brandan Wright added 17 points and 7 rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki and Delonte West each scored 16. Shawn Marion added 14 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals. Rookie KlayThompson led the Warriors with 26 points. Brandon Rush offthe bench added 20 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Dorell Wright added 19 points and 2 steals. Another rookie Jeremy Tyler added 15points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Charles Jenkins added adouble-double 10 points and 10 assists with 3 steals.
In Sacramento, the Oklahoma City Thunder are still on the hunt for the #1 seed out West with a win overthe Sacramento Kings at the Power Balance Pavilion 103-92. Kevin Durant led the Thunder with a double-double 29 pointsand 14 rebounds with 7 assists. James Harden off the bench added 20 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals. Russell Westbrook added 18 points and 2 steals. Serge Ibaka added 12 points, 6 rebounds and 8 blocks. Kendrick Perkins added 10 points and 7 rebounds. DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Tyreke Evans scored 16. Jason Thompson added 13 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Rookie Isaiah Thomas scored 12. Another rookie Jimmer Fredette scored 11.
STANDINGS AS OF 4/21/12 (13:06 PHT)
1. Spurs (sw) 46-16, 2. Thunder (nw) 46-17, 3. Lakers (x) 40-24, 4. Clippers (x) 39-24, 5. Grizzlies (x) 38-25, 6. Mavericks (x) 36-28, 7. Nuggets 34-28, 8. Suns 33-30, 9. Jazz 33-30, 10. Rockets 32-31, 11. Trail Blazers (o) 28-35, 12. Timberwolves (o) 26-38, 13. Warriors (o) 22-40, 14. Kings (o) 20-43, 15. Hornets (o) 20-43
1. Bulls (c) 47-16, 2. Heat (se) 45-17, 3. Pacers (x) 41-22, 4. Celtics (a) 37-27, 5. Hawks (x) 38-25, 6. Magic (x) 36-26, 7. Knicks (x) 33-30, 8. 76ers 32-30, 9. Bucks 29-33, 10. Pistons (o) 23-40, 11. Nets (o) 22-41, 12. Raptors (o) 22-41, 13. Cavaliers (o) 21-41, 14. Wizards (o) 16-46, 15. Bobcats (o) 7-55