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Wizards punch post-season ticket Knicks close in on berth

WASHINGTON, April 3, (AP): 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.
Jared Sullinger had 25 points, and Rajon Rondo had 13 to lead the Celtics.


Spurs 111, Warriors 90
In San Antonio, Tony Parker had 18 points and eight assists, while Tim Duncan had 15 points and eight rebounds as 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.
Marreese Speights scored 22 points and fellow reserve Jordan Crawford added 16 points for Golden State. Klay Thompson had 15 points and Stephen Curry 11 for the Warriors, who were playing on the second night of back-to-back games.


Bulls 105, Hawks 92
In Atlanta, D.J. Augustin scored 23 points as Chicago bumped slumping Atlanta out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with two weeks left in the season.
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.
Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 22 points.


Knicks 110, Nets 81
In New York, J.R. Smith had 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Carmelo Anthony added 23 points and 10 rebounds as New York beat city rival Brooklyn to extend a late-season playoff push.
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 and moved percentage points ahead of Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East when the Hawks lost to the Bulls.
The Knicks made 24 of 36 shots in taking a 63-38 halftime time in front of new president Phil Jackson, finishing at a season-high 60 percent and outrebounding Brooklyn 41-23.
Joe Johnson scored 16 points for the Nets, who had won three straight.


Raptors 107, Rockets 103
In Toronto, DeMar DeRozan scored 29 points, Jonas Valanciunas and Greivis Vasquez each had 15, helping Toronto win 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.
Jeremy Lin scored 16 points and Donatas Motiejunas had 13 for the Rockets, who could have clinched a playoff spot with a win and a loss by either Memphis or Phoenix.


Heat 96, Bucks 77
In 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.
Ramon Sessions scored 19 points for Milwaukee, which got 14 from Jeff Adrien, 11 from Brandon Knight and 10 from John Henson. Zaza Pachulia grabbed 16 rebounds in 26 minutes for the NBA-worst Bucks, who have now had 11 games this season in which they never led.
The Bucks fell to 14-61 with seven games remaining and are now only one loss away from tying the franchise record for most defeats in a season.


Nuggets 137, Pelicans 107
In Denver, Kenneth Faried scored a career-high 34 points and added 13 rebounds as 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.
Tyreke Evans scored 27 points for New Orleans, which was without All-Star forward Anthony Davis in the second half because of back spasms. He finished with six points and three rebounds.
Nuggets reserve Aaron Brooks had 24 points, going 6 of 8 from beyond the arc.


Kings 107, Lakers 102
In Sacramento, California, 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.
Jodie Meeks scored 21 points and Jordan Hill had 18 points and 15 rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter for the Lakers. Nick Young, who scored 40 points Tuesday in a loss to Portland, had 17 points and Kent Bazemore added 14.
Los Angeles lost its second straight and fourth in five games. The Lakers, losers of six straight road games, are 11-27 away from home this season.


Cavaliers 119, Magic 98
In Orlando, Florida, Dion Waiters scored 26 points, Spencer Hawes and Tristan Thompson had 20 each, and Cleveland beat 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.
Cleveland shot 60.5 percent in the first half and 57.7 percent for the game. Hawes and Waiters combined to hit 7 of 10 from behind the arc and the Cavaliers were 20 of 24 (83.3 percent) from the foul line.


Pacers 101, Pistons 94
In Indianapolis, Paul George had 27 points and 13 rebounds, David West scored 15 points and Indiana ended a three-game skid with its win over Detroit.
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.
Brandon Jennings hit a 3 to get Detroit within 94-93 before George scored, forced a turnover and West hit a jumper to give the Pacers a 98-93 lead with 1:35 left to play.


Bobcats 123, 76ers 93
In Philadelphia, Al Jefferson had 25 points and 10 rebounds to lead Charlotte past Philadelphia 76ers 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 4ž 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.
The Bobcats raced to a 13-point lead in the first quarter, stretched it to 35 and never once let the Sixers threaten.
Michael Carter-Williams scored 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting for the Sixers. They have lost two straight since snapping an NBA-record tying 26-game losing streak on Saturday.


Timberwolves 102, Grizzlies 88
In Minneapolis, Kevin Love had 24 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his third career triple-double as 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.




 

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