Wednesday's NBA Capsules
Originally published April 19, 2012 at 12:01 a.m., updated April 19, 2012 at 12:09 a.m.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Carmelo Anthony scored 21 of his 33 points in the first quarter, and the New York Knicks beat the Nets 104-95 on Wednesday night in their last trip to New Jersey.
Continuing his torrid stretch without Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin, Anthony hit his first six shots in front of the usual pro-New York crowd that will become an all-New York crowd next season, when the Nets move to Brooklyn.
The Nets once hoped to have Anthony in the lineup when they got there and he is showing why lately, surpassing 30 points for the third straight game and the sixth time in nine games this month. He shot 11 of 21, going 5 of 7 on 3-pointers, and finished slightly ahead of the NBA-best 32.1 points he was averaging in April.
CELTICS 102, MAGIC 98
BOSTON (AP) — Paul Pierce had 29 points and a career-high 14 assists and the Celtics clinched the Atlantic Division title as they held off a late charge by the Magic.
Boston (37-26) has a 3 1-2-game lead over New York (33-29). Both can end the regular season tied at 37-29, but the Celtics would finish first with a better conference record, the second tiebreaker behind head-to-head matchups.
Division winners are guaranteed to be seeded no worse than fourth in the conference and wouldn’t have to face Chicago or Miami in the first round.
The Magic cut a 91-78 lead to 91-90 on a layup by Jameer Nelson with 3:04 left. But they came no closer.
HEAT 96, RAPTORS 72
MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James scored 28 points before taking the fourth quarter off, Mike Miller added 13 points and the Heat continued tuning up for the postseason by pulling away in the second half to beat the Raptors.
James made 12 of his 15 shots for Miami, which also got 10 points from Udonis Haslem. The Heat played without Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, both given the night off.
James Johnson scored 18 points, Alan Anderson added 15 and DeMar DeRozan had 12 for Toronto, which managed only 23 points in the second half — tying a franchise-low — and fell for the sixth time in eight games.
Up next for Miami: A showdown at home Chicago on Thursday night. The Bulls (47-15) hold a 2 1/2-game lead over the Heat (44-17) in the Eastern Conference standings.
HAWKS 116, PISTONS 84
ATLANTA (AP) — Tracy McGrady led six players in double figures and the playoff-bound Hawks built a 37-point lead in the first half on the way to a rout of the Pistons.
With their highest-scoring half of the season, the Hawks were up 72-42 at the break in the first of five straight home games to close the regular season. Atlanta is battling with Boston and Orlando to be the final Eastern Conference team with home-court advantage.
The Hawks sure played like it mattered in this one, getting contributions from everyone in what was essentially a mirror image of the 116-77 beatdown that the Pistons handed Cleveland the previous night. Detroit had nothing left for the Hawks, who got a season-high 72 points from their bench.
WIZARDS 121, BUCKS 112
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jordan Crawford equaled a season-high with 32 points, and John Wall had 14 points and 10 assists as the Wizards dealt the Bucks a crucial defeat in their attempt for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee began the day 1 1/2 games behind Philadelphia for eighth place in the East, but lost a game as the Sixers won in Cleveland.
The Bucks had the previous three days off while the Sixers were completing their third game in three nights.
Monta Ellis had 31 points for Milwaukee, which has lost four of five, while Brandon Jennings had 25 points and Drew Gooden added 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Nene and Kevin Seraphin both had 14 points for Washington, which has won four of six.
76ERS 103, CAVALIERS 87
CLEVELAND (AP) — Jrue Holiday made five 3-pointers and scored 19 of his 24 points in the third quarter as the 76ers kept their hold on a playoff spot with a win over the Cavaliers.
Holiday made four of his 3s during a stunning 24-2 run when the Sixers blew open a tight game. Andre Iguodala added 19 points as Philadelphia snapped a three-game losing streak, won for just the third time in 10 games and stayed ahead of Milwaukee in the standings. The Sixers play their final four on the road, including a matchup against the Bucks next week.
Cavaliers rookie Kyrie Irving scored 9 points in his first game back after missing nine straight with a sprained shoulder. Samardo Samuels scored 15 for Cleveland, which has lost 18 of 22.
GRIZZLIES 103, HORNETS 91
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Rudy Gay scored 26 points and Mike Conley added 20 as the Grizzlies clinched a playoff berth for the second straight season with a victory over the Hornets.
Gay was on 9 of 14 from the field and Conley hit 8 of 11 as the Grizzlies shot 51 percent overall. O.J. Mayo scored 15 points and Zach Randolph added 10 for Memphis, which won for the 10th time in 13 games.
Rookie Jerome Dyson led the Hornets with a career-high 24 points, while Carl Landry finished with 16, hitting all four of his shots from the field and going 8 of 9 from the line. Marco Belinelli matched Landry’s 16 points, and Jason Smith finished with 12.
The loss snapped New Orleans’ four-game winning streak.
BULLS 100, BOBCATS 68
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Richard Hamilton scored 22 points in just 24 minutes as the Chicago Bulls took a step closer to wrapping up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a rout of the dreadful Bobcats.
Hamilton made his first seven shots from the field, including four from beyond the arc and the outcome was never in doubt.
Despite playing without leading scorers Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, the Bulls shot 48 percent from the floor and connected on 9 of 19 shots from 3-point range to bounce back from Tuesday night’s surprising 87-84 loss to the Washington Wizards.
Kemba Walker scored 16 points for the Bobcats, who’ve lost a franchise-record 18 straight games. If the Bobcats lose their final five games they will finish with the worst winning percentage in NBA history.
MAVERICKS 117, ROCKETS 110
DALLAS (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and the Mavericks rallied to victory over the Rockets, whose playoff hopes took another blow.
Jason Terry put the Mavericks ahead to stay with a 3-pointer that made it 93-92 with 7:37 left.
By the time Nowitzki completed a three-point play 3 1/2 minutes later, the Mavericks led 102-94. That wrapped up a 20-6 run their 11-time All-Star forward started with consecutive 3-pointers.
The Rockets lost their fifth straight game, matching their longest losing streak of the season.
JAZZ 112, TRAIL BLAZERS 91
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Devin Harris had 27 points, including a career-high six 3-pointers, and the Jazz continued to jockey for a playoff spot with a victory over the Trail Blazers.
The Jazz, with just three games to play, are locked in a battle for the remaining playoff spots in the Western Conference with Houston, Phoenix, Dallas and Denver.
Gordon Hayward added 23 points for the Jazz, who led by as many as 31 points. Al Jefferson had 11 points and 10 rebounds for his team-high 29th double-double this season.
Wesley Matthews had 21 points for the Blazers, who had already been eliminated from the playoffs.
CLIPPERS 104, NUGGETS 98
DENVER (AP) — Kenyon Martin helped beat his old team with a tip-in and blocked shot in the final half-minute, leading the Clippers past the Nuggets.
Martin tipped in Chris Paul’s missed jumper with 27 seconds left and the game tied at 96, then blocked Ty Lawson at the other end with 20 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Paul made two free throws with 18.3 seconds left to make it a four-point game.
The Nuggets got back within two on Lawson’s free throws with 16 seconds remaining, but Mo Williams, who scored 19 points and came up huge in the fourth quarter, replied with two free throws and Paul, who led the Clippers with 21 points, capped the game with an uncontested dunk.
THUNDER 109, SUNS 97
PHOENIX (AP) — James Harden scored a career-high 40 points, including making 5 of 8 3-pointers, and the Thunder dealt Phoenix a blow in its scramble to make the playoffs.
Kevin Durant added 29 points and Russell Westbrook 15 for the Thunder, who stayed a half-game behind San Antonio for the top playoff seed in the Western Conference.
Phoenix’s loss, coupled with Utah’s’ victory over Portland, moved the Jazz a half-game ahead of the Suns for the West’s eighth and final playoff spot.
Jared Dudley scored 21 points for Phoenix.
SPURS 127, KINGS 102
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal scored 17 points each, leading the Spurs to a victory over the Kings for their fifth straight win.
Using their reserves extensively all game, the Spurs beat the Kings in Sacramento for an eighth straight time and remained a half-game in front of Oklahoma City for the top seed in the Western Conference. The Thunder won at Phoenix on Wednesday night.
San Antonio, playing its third game in three nights, won decisively without veteran center Tim Duncan, who was given the night off to rest. The Spurs were coming off two 21-point victories at Golden State and the Lakers the previous two days.
Isaiah Thomas had 21 points and eight assists for the Kings, who have dropped eight of nine.
LAKERS 99, WARRIORS 87
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Andrew Bynum had 31 points and nine rebounds, Pau Gasol recorded a triple-double and the Lakers rebounded from their worst loss of the season by beating the undermanned Warriors.
Gasol finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists to help the Lakers build a 17-point lead by the second quarter and cruise to an easy win — even with Kobe Bryant missing his seventh straight game with a bruised left shin — a night after a 112-91 home loss to San Antonio.
Klay Thompson scored 17 points and Dorell Wright had 12 points and seven rebounds for a Warriors team wrapping up the end of another sorry season. Golden State has lost 18 of its past 22 games.
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