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NBA Eastern Conference Update: Celtics, Nets Closing Ground

The New York Knicks have spent the bulk of this season so far comfortably ahead in the NBA’s Atlantic Division. They raced out of the gates with the best record in the conference and were right up there with Western Conference powers like the Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, and Oklahoma City Thunder for the best record in the NBA.

On Friday, the Knicks lost for the sixth time in their last ten games and fell to 23-23 when the Chicago Bulls came to Madison Square Garden and quickly built a 20 point lead. They kept the lead between 15 and 25 points all game long until the Knicks made a furious rally in the last 3:00 and eventually got the lead down to six with just a few seconds left. The Bulls though were never in danger of losing the lead as they ran their record to 20-14. Their 108-101 win was their third this year over New York and pulls the Bulls within three games of the lead in the Eastern Conference. The scary thing about Chicago is their MVP point guard, Derrick Rose, is about to make his season debut soon. How good will they be then?

But the Knicks have more immediate concerns with the suddenly hot Brooklyn Nets, who have won seven of their last 10 and are now only two games behind the Knicks at 21-15 after beating the Phoenix Suns 99-79 on Friday. The third quarter was the decisive one as the Nets broke open a tight game by taking the quarter 28-13 and then followed it up with a 25-13 fourth quarter. Joe Johnson led the Nets with 19 points.

The Boston Celtics are also heating up. The Celtics won their fifth straight game on Friday by beating former Celtic legend Kevin McHale and his up and coming Houston Rockets 103-91. Boston is now 19-17 and only four games behind the Knicks for the division lead now. Paul Pierce, who has been a scoring machine lately, led the Celtics with 23 points as the Rockets dropped to 21-16.

The Indiana Pacers are another hot team in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference. They have won eight of ten and are 22-14. They will take on the hapless Charlotte Bobcats tonight. In their last game on Thursday, they beat the Knicks 81-76.

In the Southeast Division, the Miami Heat has been a mediocre 5-5 in their last ten games. They have lost two in a row and are only one game ahead of the Knicks for the top spot in the east at 23-11. Luckily for them, the Atlanta Hawks have been unable to take advantage as they too are 5-5 in their last ten. The Hawks are 21-14 and trail the Heat by 2.5. The Milwaukee Bucks at 18-17 are in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, trailing the Celtics by a half game. They have a four game lead over their closest competitors, the Philadelphia 76ers who are 15-22.

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