LOS ANGELES -- Blake Griffin scored 22 of his 37 points in the first quarter and made 14 of 16 shots before fouling out, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Phoenix Suns 112-105 on Monday night for their eighth straight victory.
Darren Collison scored 20 points and Chris Paul added 17 points and 11 assists for the Pacific Division leaders, who were 55.1 percent from the field and improved to 23-1 when shooting at least 50 percent.
Goran Dragic had 23 points and five assists during a foul-plagued 33 minutes for the Suns, who slipped a half-game behind idle Memphis for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot and are 1½ behind Dallas. Phoenix hasn't made the postseason since 2010 under coach Alvin Gentry, now a Clippers associate head coach.
SALT LAKE CITY -- Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap made themselves right at home in their return to Utah.
Just when Atlanta seemed almost incapable of winning a road game, Korver and Millsap broke the hearts of the fans that cheered them for years to finally help the Hawks break through.
Korver scored 26 points and Millsap added 23 against their former team as the Hawks outlasted the Utah Jazz 112-110 on Monday night to snap a six-game losing streak.
MILWAUKEE -- For about a three-minute stretch of the second half, Milwaukee's Brandon Knight just could not be stopped.
A quick first step to get to the hoop for a layup. A rousing dunk on the break off a high outlet pass saved by teammate Ramon Sessions. A back-breaking 3 from the wing.
Knight scored 11 straight points during a stretch between the third and fourth quarters to help the Bucks erase an 18-point deficit and defeat the Orlando Magic 105-98 on Monday night.
NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony had plenty of help against the struggling Philadelphia 76ers.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 28 points as the New York Knicks had four players score 20 or more points and defeated Philadelphia 123-110 on Monday night, sending the 76ers to their 17th straight loss.
Amar'e Stoudemire added 23 points to tie a season high, and Anthony and J.R. Smith each scored 22 as the Knicks won their fourth game in a row and fell just short of their season-high points total.
MIAMI -- LeBron James set the tone pregame. Dwyane Wade took over in the fourth quarter.
And the Miami Heat got a win they desperately wanted.
Wade scored 13 of his 22 points in the final period and led a critical 12-0 run down the stretch, James led all scorers with 23 points and the Heat clinched a playoff spot by beating the Washington Wizards 99-90 on Monday night to snap a three-game losing streak.
NEW YORK -- Plagued by foul trouble in the first three quarters, Paul Pierce came up big down the stretch for the Brooklyn Nets.
Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston each scored 18 points and an ailing Pierce hit a key late 3-pointer to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 101-97 victory over the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors on Monday night.
Pierce scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and Joe Johnson added 14 for the Nets, who won their season-high eighth straight at home. Brooklyn moved three games behind Toronto in the Atlantic.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Bobcats are getting used to big nights from Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker.
Now, they have Gary Neal to throw into the offensive mix.
The newly acquired Neal came off the bench and scored 19 points as the surging Bobcats won their seventh home game in a row, defeating the Denver Nuggets 105-98 on Monday night.
The Alaska Aces acquired forward Vic Manuel from the Air21 Express, in exchange for big man Aldrech Ramos, with the PBA approving the deal, Monday.
The Aces, defending Commissioner’s Cup champions, sought an upgrade at the forward positions, after beginning the conference with a 1-1 record. Air21 has the same record.
The 6’6” Ramos, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 PBA Draft, had fallen out of the Aces’ rotation. To close out the Philippine Cup, he logged just a total of 18 minutes over four games, before failing to see the court in their quarterfinals series versus Ginebra. All-in-all, he normed just 5.29 points, 3.14 rebounds and 0.50 blocks in 16.14 minutes.
DALLAS -- Guard Monta Ellis described his first season with the Dallas Mavericks as escaping from "a deep hole," saying he's enjoying basketball as much as he has since his second season in the NBA.
"I would have to say my last time feeling like this was 2007, when we made the playoffs," Ellis said Monday, referring to the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors, who upset the top-seeded Mavs in the first round. "This happy? 2007."
Ellis, who rarely reveals much to the media, was in a reflective mood as the Mavs prepared for a trip that begins Tuesday at Golden State.
Jayson Castro is back with a vengeance just less than two months after failing to lead his team to a fourth straight Philippine Cup title.
The 5’8” guard out of Philippine Christian University opened the Commissioner’s Cup with renewed vigor, averaging 17.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists to give Talk ‘N Text an early share of the lead in the standings with San Miguel Beer with similar 2-0 records.
The lightning-quick Castro fired 12 points including two three-point shots, keying Talk ‘N Text’s early breakaway to flatten defending champion Alaska, 85-72 at the start of the import-spiced conference last Wednesday.