The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-108 in an intriguing late-season matchup that would have meant absolutely nothing in recent years.
Minnesota have clinched their first winning season since 2004-05, while Philadelphia have averaged only 19 wins over the past four years, but like the Timberwolves, the 76ers are chasing a high seed in the playoffs.
Both franchises have built a solid core of young stars, but the 76ers' talent had a better outing on Saturday. Joel Embiid led the way with 19 points, while Dario Saric added 18. Ben Simmons put up a triple-double (15/12/13). All three are 24 or younger.
The 76ers (42-30) continue to loom ever scarier as the playoffs near. And while the Timberwolves (42-32) did not look great in this one, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler – when he returns from a knee injury – will make Minnesota a tough out in the playoffs.
GORDON, HOWARD SHINE
Magic forward Aaron Gordon had a big night (29 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) in a 105-99 win over the Suns.
Dwight Howard collected 23 rebounds and added 18 points in the Hornets' 102-98 win in Dallas.
Towns shot only three of 15 from the floor against the 76ers, had five turnovers, and was emphatically rejected on a play by Joel Embiid.
Magic forward Mario Hezonja stole the ball, started the break with a behind-the-back pass, then soared for a one-handed slam on an alley-oop.
Mario Hezonja getting fancy with the alley-oop jam pic.twitter.com/ZmfZtQof3a— NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) March 25, 2018
Philadelphia 76ers 120-108 Minnesota Timberwolves
Detroit Pistons 117-95 Chicago Bulls
Orlando Magic 105-99 Phoenix Suns
Houston Rockets 114-91 New Orleans Pelicans
Los Angeles Lakers 100-93 Memphis Grizzlies
Charlotte Hornets 102-98 Dallas Mavericks
TRAIL BLAZERS AT THUNDER
Both teams are fighting for the number three seed in the West. While it is unlikely, there is still a mathematical chance one of the two could miss the playoffs. This is the best collection of guards on the floor on Sunday in the NBA, with reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook facing off against Portland's duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.