Tuesday's NBA Capsules

BOSTON (AP) — Rajon Rondo scored 16 points with 13 assists and the Boston Celtics moved into a tie for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 99-82 on Tuesday night.

With the win, the Celtics and Heat were tied at 54-23 with four games left. The Celtics would win the tiebreaker because they beat Miami in their first three meetings this season; the teams play again in Miami on Sunday.

Paul Pierce scored 18 points, Kevin Garnett had 14 and Ray Allen had 13 for Boston, which is 8-8 in the past month. Nenad Krstic scored eight points in 18 minutes after missing two games with bruised right knee, and Jermaine O’Neal had nine points in 12 minutes as the Celtics try to find big men to fill in for Shaquille O’Neal.

Thunder 101, Nuggets 94

DENVER (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 32 points and Oklahoma City beat Denver in a possible first-round playoff preview.

Russell Westbrook added 18 points and James Harden 13 as the Thunder all but secured home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs, building a four-game lead over the Nuggets with five games left, including a rematch Friday night in Oklahoma City.

This was the first win by the Thunder in Denver since the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City in the beginning of the 2008-09 season. The franchise had lost seven straight games in Denver by an average of 19.3 points, its last win here coming on March 28, 2007.

Jazz 86, Lakers 85

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rookie Gordon Hayward scored a career-high 22 points and hit the go-ahead free throw with 6 seconds to play, and Utah snapped an eight-game losing streak with a victory over Los Angeles.

Kobe Bryant scored 20 points and hit a tying 3-pointer with 16 seconds left, but fumbled the ball away on an ill-conceived drive at the buzzer.

With their second straight loss following a 17-1 stretch, the Lakers might have lost the chance to catch San Antonio atop the Western Conference standings. The Spurs have a 3 1/2-game lead with five games left for Los Angeles.

Paul Millsap scored 22 points for the Jazz, who had a five-point lead before Bryant got the Lakers back in it with two 3-pointers.

Warriors 108, Trail Blazers 87

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — David Lee had 29 points and a season-high 20 rebounds and Golden State beat the Trail Blazers, tempering the celebration as Portland secured a playoff spot.

Monta Ellis added 30 points for the Warriors, who led by as many as 26 points.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Blazers, who saw their eight-game winning streak at the Rose Garden end.

The Blazers clinched a spot in the playoffs just before the half when the Houston Rockets lost 104-101 to Sacramento.

It will be Portland’s third straight trip to the postseason.

Spurs 97, Hawks 90

ATLANTA (AP) — Tony Parker scored 26 points and San Antonio moved closer to home-court advantage in the playoffs by ending a four-game road losing streak.

Manu Ginobili had 18 points and Tim Duncan had 17 for the Spurs, who had been 0-6 on the road against Eastern Conference teams which have clinched playoff berths.

The Spurs began the night 2 1/2 games ahead of the Lakers in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

San Antonio ended a six-game losing streak with Sunday’s home win over Phoenix. The Spurs took a more important step toward home-court advantage through the Western Conference playoffs by taking their first road win in almost three weeks.

Joe Johnson had 21 points and Jamal Crawford had 20 for the Hawks.

Bulls 97, Suns 94

CHICAGO (AP) — Derrick Rose finished with 19 points, Luol Deng scored 18 and Chicago continued to close in on the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a win over Phoenix.

The Bulls lead Miami and Boston by three games, with the Celtics visiting Thursday.

The Bulls led by 13 at the half and 22 in the third, only to see Phoenix whittle it to two in the fourth quarter, before pulling out their 16th win in 18 games.

Rose hit just 6 of 15 shots, but converted several big ones down the stretch, and the Bulls had too much balance and too much at stake to lose to a team that’s out of the playoff race.

Joakim Noah added 12 points, including eight in the third quarter, after missing three games with a sprained right ankle. Carlos Boozer scored 12 after sitting out Monday’s practice with an illness, and Ronnie Brewer and Taj Gibson scored 10 each off the bench.

Vince Carter scored 23, but the Suns lost for the sixth time in seven games. Grant Hill and Channing Frye scored 13 each, and Steve Nash had 16 assists after missing two games with flulike symptoms.

Knicks 131, Raptors 118

NEW YORK (AP) — Toney Douglas scored 28 points, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire each added 23, and New York closed within a half-game of sixth place in the Eastern Conference by routing Toronto for its fourth straight victory.

Chauncey Billups had 13 points and nine assists for the Knicks, who can move ahead of the 76ers for the No. 6 seed when they travel to Philadelphia on Wednesday. It’s a rare big game in the springtime for the Knicks, usually long out of contention by now but headed back to the postseason for the first time since 2004.

The Knicks rang up 78 points in their highest-scoring first half of the season, shot 58 percent overall and coasted to their fourth victory over Toronto this season, sweeping the season series for the first time since 2001-02.

Nets 107, Timberwolves 105

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Deron Williams capped a career-tying 21-assist performance by hitting a game-winning jumper with 1.7 seconds to play to lead New Jersey over Minnesota.

Williams finished with 18 points as the Nets snapped a six-game losing streak and extended the Timberwolves’ slide to a season-high 11 games.

The game wasn’t decided until Michael Beasley had a 3-pointer bounce off the rim at the buzzer.

Brook Lopez had a game-high 30 points and 12 rebounds and Sasha Vujacic added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets who won their 24th game, doubling their total of a year ago when they were the NBA’s worst team.

Beasley and Anthony Randolph had 20 points apiece for Minnesota, with Beasley getting all of his points in the second half.

Wizards 107, Pistons 105

WASHINGTON (AP) — John Wall scored 16 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, and Washington has its first three-game winning streak since 2008.

Wall, showing none of the complacency that might befall a rookie at the end of a long, losing season, also had 12 assists and six rebounds for the Wizards. In the final minute of the first half, he hurdled over two rows of seats along the baseline to save the ball, then ran back onto the court to knock the ball away from Will Bynum while landing atop the scorer’s table on the sideline.

In the fourth quarter, Wall willed his team to victory — giving Washington a rare string of success.

Kings 104, Rockets 101

HOUSTON (AP) — Marcus Thornton and Samuel Dalembert scored 21 points apiece, Dalembert and DeMarcus Cousins each grabbed 15 rebounds and Sacramento hurt Houston’s playoff hopes with a win.

Tyreke Evans scored 18 points and Cousins scored 15 for the Kings.

Kevin Martin scored 30 for the Rockets, who blew a big chance to gain ground on Memphis in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. Houston was three games behind the Grizzlies and New Orleans entering the game, and Memphis lost to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Kyle Lowry had 15 points and nine assists and Luis Scola had 18 points for the Rockets, who had a seven-game home winning streak snapped.

Clippers 82, Grizzlies 81

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Mo Williams scored 16 points and keyed a fourth-quarter rally and Los Angeles snapped Memphis’ four-game winning streak.

Williams had nine points in the final period, including six straight points in the final 1:49 to give Los Angeles enough of a buffer for the victory, despite a wild ending that saw the Clippers run off the clock after a jump ball with 5.7 seconds left.

Blake Griffin added 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Clippers, while Chris Kaman finished with 14 points. Eric Gordon finished with 11 points.

Mike Conley scored 20 points to lead the Grizzlies, while Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol had 14 points apiece, Gasol added 15 rebounds. Sam Young scored 13 points.

Cavaliers 99, Bobcats 89

CLEVELAND (AP) — Ramon Sessions scored 18 points to pace seven players in double figures, leading Cleveland over injury-depleted Charlotte.

Charlotte, which is in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, trails Indiana by 2 1/2 games for the final playoff spot. The Bobcats, losers of three straight, have five games remaining while the Pacers have four games left.

The Bobcats, whose next two games are against Orlando and Miami, dressed only nine players. Leading scorer Stephen Jackson, who averages 18.5 points, missed his third straight game because of a strained left hamstring. The injury could sideline him the rest of the season.

Magic 78, Bucks 72

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Dwight Howard had 18 points and 17 rebounds, Jameer Nelson scored 17 and Orlando beat Milwaukee.

Coupled with Atlanta’s 97-90 loss to San Antonio, the Magic clinched the No. 4 seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs. Orlando won three of four in the season series to improve to 16-5 in its last 21 meetings against the Bucks.

Orlando shot just 38 percent, including a stretch of 19 straight misses from the 3-point line.

Drew Gooden led Milwaukee with 18 points and Keyon Dooling added 10.

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