The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in convincing fashion, if not by the score, then at least by the relative amount of effort they displayed in posting another 120+ point game last night. The Thunder did what they really needed to do - give Russell "usage rate" Westbrook the 4th quarter off while maintaining their solid lead throughout. By keeping Westbrook to only 30 minutes on the night, there is a better chance that he will be well-rested tonight as the Thunder playing what could be a pivotal game in San Antonio.
Speaking of the Spurs, they surprisingly lost to the resilient Dallas Mavericks. The Spurs were coming off a dominant win over Atlanta and figured to put the hurt on Dallas, but the Mavs and Monta Ellis had other plans, which keeps Dallas 3.5 games up on the Thunder. The Spurs meanwhile are also mathematically 3.5 games ahead of the Thunder, and with the two teams playing tonight (and one more time later this season), OKC now has multiple teams that are within striking distance.
The other team that they may be shaking hands with while going in opposite directions in the near future is the Portland Trail Blazers, who showed plenty of moxxy against Golden State, but it was mixed with reality. With Portland now missing Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, and LaMarcus Aldridge until possibly the end of the season, they simply don't have the sustainable juice necessary to play a full game against the playoff teams in the NBA. While they are still a healthy 4 games up on the Thunder (and hold the tie breaker), they have now lost 5 in a row and things could get dicey over the next 3 weeks. While their schedule isn't particularly brutal, they end the season facing the Thunder and the Mavs, and those two games could go a long ways to deciding final playoff seedings in the West.
Standings and stats via NBA.com/stats