Above The Rim: Pierce Goes Off.

Celtics 98, Spurs 90 – No KG still and no Kendrick Perkins in the middle left Leon Powe and Glen Davis guarding Tim Duncan. Duncan got his 22, but Paul Pierce had 35 and some crucial bench points and defense on Manu Ginobili kept the Spurs from getting closer than 3 points late.

Suns 108, Wizards 107 – Amazingly competitive game, it speaks well for Washington that they’re getting so much out of that team without both Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler. Still not enough tonight — despite Antawn Jamison’s 27 and Brendan Haywood’s season high 21 points, they lost late due to clutch free throws from Amare Stoudemire, points 30 and 31 for the big man.

Lakers 104, Heat 94 – Plenty of great stuff from Shawn Marion playing free down in Miami, but it’s not nearly enough for the Heat to get a win against the Lakers — particularly when Kobe is shooting 10-for-15 and getting 33 points off that.   But at least now the Heat have some semblance of a future, and something to try and keep Dwyane Wade around.

Nuggets 113, Cavs 83 – Melo still owns LeBron, even though the Cavs are heavily depleted (four players out, two of them starters.) James scored 30 through three quarters in the loss, while Melo put up 27 and AI 25 in the Denver rout.

UNC 103, Clemson 93 (2OT) – Clemson had this one for most of the game, outshooting from the 3 point line and making the Tar Heels look bad — but a late comeback sealed overtime, and then UNC just controlled the game. Tyler Hansbrough wound up with 39 and Wayne Ellington added 28 for the Heels. Clemson’s lost 52 in a row at Chapel Hill now.

Washington 71, UCLA 61 – The Huskies put on over on the Bruins, big time — keeping Darren Collison from making a big impact on the scoreboard will do it. A late interesting play, with a Husky player inbounding it off a Bruin’s face to keep the ball and avoid a five-second inbound violation.

Photo: AP/Michael Dwyer

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