NBA: Washington Wizards clinch playoff berth
WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008, clinching an Eastern Conference berth Wednesday night with a 118-92 win over the Boston Celtics.
Marcin Gortat scored 22 points to lead the Wizards, who gathered for a celebratory huddle at midcourt after the final whistle. John Wall, the 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick playing the first meaningful late-season games of his career, added 13 points and 10 assists.
The Wizards’ playoff position had been relatively secure for several weeks in the weakened East, but seeing the magic number reach zero was a milestone worth noting for a franchise whose win totals since their last postseason appearance have been 19, 26, 23, 20 and 29 — never finishing better than 24 games below .500.
SPURS 111, WARRIORS 90
SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker had 18 points and eight assists, Tim Duncan had 15 points and eight rebounds, and San Antonio extended its franchise-record winning streak to 19 games.
San Antonio (59-16) extended its league-leading record to four games over the Thunder City (54-19) ahead of their matchup Thursday night in Oklahoma City.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was able to rest his core players with his team leading by as many as 26 points and never trailing after the opening three minutes.
CLIPPERS 112, SUNS 108
PHOENIX — Darren Collison and Blake Griffin scored 23 points and Los Angeles rallied from a 17-point third-quarter deficit to beat Phoenix.
Chris Paul added 20 points, including a 32-foot 3-pointer just before the shot clock was to expire to put the Clippers up for good 108-106 with 1:48 to play.
Eight Suns players reached double figures, led by Marcus Morris’ 16 points.
BULLS 105, HAWKS 92
ATLANTA — D.J. Augustin scored 23 points and Chicago bumped slumping Atlanta out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago took control with a 16-3 run in the second quarter and led the rest of the way, fending off the last of Atlanta’s runs when Jimmy Butler swished a 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining.
The Hawks lost for the 21st time in 28 games, this one dropping them slightly behind New York for the eighth playoff seed. The Knicks (33-43) routed Brooklyn 110-81 to climb percentage points ahead of Atlanta (32-42). Cleveland is also in the mix after beating Orlando.
KNICKS 110, NETS 81
NEW YORK — J.R. Smith had 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists, Carmelo Anthony added 23 points and 10 rebounds, and New York beat city rival Brooklyn to move percentage points ahead of Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points a game after spraining his right ankle to help the Knicks win for the 12th time in 15 games, dominating a team that had the best record in the Eastern Conference since the new year. New York won its third straight.
RAPTORS 107, ROCKETS 103
TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan scored 29 points, Jonas Valanciunas and Greivis Vasquez each had 15, and Toronto won its seventh straight home meeting with Houston.
Terrence Ross scored 14 points and John Salmons had 12 as the short-handed Raptors won for the fourth time in five games.
James Harden scored 26 points and Chandler Parsons had 20 for the Rockets, who lost their third straight after winning the previous five.
The Rockets hurt themselves by missing eight of 30 free throw attempts, including five misses in the fourth quarter.
HEAT 96, BUCKS 77
MIAMI — LeBron James scored 17 points, Chris Bosh added 15 and Miami stayed atop the Eastern Conference with a win over Milwaukee.
Mario Chalmers added 14 for the Heat, who never trailed despite again being without Greg Oden, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen. The win kept Miami percentage points (52-22) ahead of Indiana (53-23) in the East.
NUGGETS 137, PELICANS 107
DENVER — Kenneth Faried scored a career-high 34 points and added 13 rebounds, and Denver scored a season high in routing New Orleans.
The Nuggets raced out to a 40-26 lead by the end of the first quarter and never looked back, making 15 of 27 3-pointers compared to 2 of 9 for New Orleans.
The Pelicans also had no answers inside for Faried, who went unchecked numerous times for backdoor dunks and easy short jumpers in surpassing his previous career best, 32 points against the Lakers on March 7.
KINGS 107, LAKERS 102
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Rudy Gay scored nine of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, Ray McCallum added 27 points and Sacramento avoided a season sweep against Los Angeles.
Sacramento scored nine straight points early in the second quarter and didn’t trail again in winning its second straight. The Lakers had won the first three meetings this season and beaten their Pacific Division rivals five consecutive overall.
CAVALIERS 119, MAGIC 98
ORLANDO, Fla. — Dion Waiters scored 26 points, Spencer Hawes and Tristan Thompson had 20 each to lead Cleveland over Orlando.
Kyrie Irving added 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds in his first game back after missing eight with strained left biceps. Jarrett Jack scored 13 points the Cavs, who have won five of their last six and are trying to catch Atlanta for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Victor Oladipo scored 16 points, Doron Lamb had 14 and Tobias Harris 11 for the Magic.
PACERS 101, PISTONS 94
INDIANAPOLIS — Paul George had 27 points and 13 rebounds, David West scored 15 points and Indiana snapped a three-game skid.
George hit a 3-pointer from 35-feet to give the Pacers a 94-90 lead with 3:19 remaining and Indiana never trailed the rest of the way.
Josh Smith had 24 points and five rebounds and Greg Monroe added 16 points for the Pistons, who have lost four of their last five games.
BOBCATS 123, 76ERS 93
PHILADELPHIA — Al Jefferson had 25 points and 10 rebounds to lead Charlotte past Philadelphia and closer to a playoff berth.
Gary Neal added 15 points for the Bobcats (37-38), who have the seventh-best record in the Eastern Conference. They entered 4½ games ahead of the ninth-place New York Knicks and needed four wins in the final eight games to clinch their first playoff berth since 2010.
TIMBERWOLVES 102, GRIZZLIES 88
MINNEAPOLIS — Kevin Love had 24 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his third career triple-double and Minnesota dealt Memphis a loss it could ill afford.
Ricky Rubio had 14 points, seven assists and three steals and Kevin Martin scored 21 points for the Timberwolves, who are trying to play spoiler down the stretch of what has been a disappointing season.
Marc Gasol had 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Grizzlies. But Zach Randolph had just four points on 1-for-8 shooting and Memphis dropped a game that coach Dave Joerger called a must-win before tipoff.
The Grizzlies (44-31) entered in seventh place in the jam-packed Western Conference, but with Phoenix (44-30) and Dallas (44-31) all in the mix for the last two spots.
By wire sources