Despite LeBron James moving up on the all-time scoring list, the Cleveland Cavaliers' recent struggles continued on Thursday night, falling to the Chicago Bulls at the United Center, 99-93. The loss was their third in a row, as Nikola Mirotic led the Bulls with 28 points, including six three-pointers, putting up those exact numbers for a second straight game. Jimmy Butler added 25 points, helping Chicago knock Cleveland out of the top seed in the East, as they fall a half game behind the Boston Celtics. The defending champs fell to 6-10 in the month of March, putting their overall record at 47-27. James finished with 26 points, passing Shaquiile O'Neal for seventh on the all-time scoring list with 28,599 career points. The Bulls got 10 points and 11 rebounds from Robin Lopez, as well as 15 assists from Rajon Rondo, completing the four-game season series sweep of the Cavs.
Rockets Set Three-Point Record, Fall to Blazers
The Houston Rockets put themselves in the record books on Thursday night, but also found themselves in the loss column, falling to the Portland Trail Blazers, 117-107. Damian Lillard led the way with 31 points and 11 assists, becoming the first player in franchise history to score 30 points eight times in a calendar month. Jusuf Nurkic chipped in 19 points and a team-high 11 rebounds for Portland, who hold a 1.5 game lead on the Denver Nuggets for the final playoff spot in the West. The Rockets set an NBA single-season record in three-pointers, as James Harden hit one in the first quarter to give them 1,078. Harden led the way with 30 points and eight rebounds in the loss, but had three costly turnovers in the final 12 minutes. Despite breaking the three-point record on Thursday, they did struggle from beyond the arc on the night, shooting 8-for-34 from long range.
Canadiens Clinch Playoff Spot With Win
A year after a heartbreaking collapse that saw the Montreal Canadiens miss the postseason, the top team in the Atlantic Division is returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. Paul Byron scored twice, while Brendan Gallagher added a goal and three assists in Montreal's 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The Canadiens clinch a playoff spot with the victory, as they are winners of three in a row, and five of their past seven games. Carey Price made 29 saves for his 36th win of the year, getting goal support from Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty, and Phillip Danault. Since hiring Claude Julien as their head coach, replacing Michel Therrien, the Canadiens have gone 13-5-1. Reilly Smith and Michael Matheson scored for the Panthers in the loss, which officially eliminated them from playoff contention.