Phoenix guard Devin Booker's scintillating 70-point performance put his name among some of the NBA's greats on Friday, but it couldn't lift his Suns to a win over the Boston Celtics.
Booker became just the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 or more points in a game and at 20 the youngest ever to do so.
But the Celtics withstood the effort for a 130-120 victory that kept them one game behind the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers in the race for the Eastern Conference lead.
The Cavaliers defeated the Hornets 112-105 in a bruising encounter in Charlotte. Superstar LeBron James just missed a triple-double, scoring 32 points with 11 assists and nine rebounds but suffered a corneal abrasion when he was poked in the eye in the third quarter.
The Cavs said he could miss Saturday's clash with the Wizards in Washington.
The Wizards tuned up for that marquee matchup with a 129-108 victory over the lowly Brooklyn Nets.
That win, along with losses by the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, saw Washington clinch a playoff berth for the third time in four seasons.
The playoff races were heating up with less than three weeks remaining in the regular season, but the buzz Friday surrounded Booker and a Suns team well out of post-season contention.
"It's a zone. It's kind of hard to explain," Booker said after joining Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor and David Robinson as the only 70-point scorers in league history. "I've been in those zones before, but never to this extent. It's hard to explain."
Booker, whose previous career high was 39, went 21 of 40 from the floor, 4 of 11 from 3-point range, canned 24 of his 26 free throws and also had eight rebounds and six assists. His previous career high was 39 points.
- Winning disposition -
Cleveland's victory in Charlotte followed a disappointing 126-113 defeat at Denver on Wednesday, which had James calling out his teammates.
He was pleased with the intensity and defensive effort they displayed in holding the Hornets to 42.2 percent shooting.
"I liked our disposition tonight," James said. "We came in with a physical mindset and basically that helped us win the game because it was physical from the start right down to the finish."
The Nuggets followed up their victory over the Cavaliers with a 125-117 triumph over the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.
Nikola Jokic scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds and Wilson Chandler added 24 points for the Nuggets, who made 40 of 43 free throws and turned back a Pacers surge in the final period.
In Houston, James Harden scored 38 points and tied his career record with 17 assists as the Rockets rallied for a 117-107 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
It was Harden's fourth consecutive 30-point, 10-assist game, the longest such streak in the NBA since Michael Jordan's five-game roll from April 4-12 in 1989.
The Golden State Warriors stretched their winning streak to six games with a 114-100 home victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Draymond Green drained three three-pointers in a third quarter dominated by the Warriors, finishing with 23 points total.
Stephen Curry had a double-double of 27 points and 12 assists for the Warriors, who improved to 58-14 and moved two and a half games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the league and home court advantage throughout the playoffs.