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Updated: 13 min 49 sec ago
Kyle Lowry picked up his fifth foul at around the midway point of the fourth quarter - then was called for his sixth 20 seconds later. It was the type of mistake that could prove costly for Toronto in the playoffs, but this time the Raptors were able to overcome it. DeMar DeRozan scored 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, and the Raptors tied a franchise record for victories with a 116-107 win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. That's what happens when he is aggressive - he can take over a game.'' The Raptors (47-33) had already clinched the Atlantic Division, and the victory over Detroit was their 10th in 14 games.
The Pacers were back to being themselves Sunday. Lance Stephenson regained his swagger and, yes, the reeling Pacers even looked like a playoff-ready team. David West made three free throws in the final 15 seconds and Stephenson produced his league-leading fifth triple-double to give Indiana a 102-97 win over Oklahoma City 102-97, putting the Pacers on the cusp of clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. We have to get that No. 1 spot,'' Stephenson said.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Sunday that he will use his regular starters Sunday against Oklahoma City.
Jeff Teague says he never doubted the Atlanta Hawks would be in the playoffs. Even with Al Horford's season-ending injury in December and a 1-14 stretch in February and March, the Hawks made the Eastern Conference field with two games remaining. We were able to still make it to the playoffs.'' Teague scored 25 points, Lou Williams had 18 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and the Hawks earned the East's final playoff spot with a 98-85 victory over the Miami Heat on Saturday night. Atlanta's third straight victory eliminated the New York Knicks from playoff contention.
Monta Ellis came to Dallas because he wanted to pair up with Dirk Nowitzki and see what kind of scoring tag team they could be. With the Mavericks in danger of making their playoff road much more difficult, they shared their best moment of the season. Ellis matched his season high with 37 points and Nowitzki scored 21 of his 23 during a second-half rally that carried the Mavericks back to the postseason in a 101-98 victory against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. ''And because Monta Ellis, at the time we needed him most, stepped up and played his biggest game of the year.'' The Mavericks left the Suns and Memphis to battle for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference by winning their home finale, and avoided a possible winner-take-all game at the Grizzlies on the last night of the regular season.
Kenneth Faried joined the 20/20 club just 48 hours after sinking his first winning basket. Faried scored 24 points and pulled down 21 rebounds Saturday night in the short-handed Denver Nuggets' 101-94 come-from-behind win over the Utah Jazz. Faried was coming off an 18-point, 17-rebound performance at Golden State on Thursday night that would have been overshadowed by Timofey Mozgov's 23-point, 29-board performance were it not for coach Brian Shaw diagramming the last-second shot for him - another first. ''Hey, why not?'' Suddenly, anything seems possible for these Nuggets, who are headed for the NBA lottery instead of the playoffs for the first time in a decade but are somehow playing well despite a depleted roster.
James Harden wasn't concerned about overstating the importance of Houston's come-from-behind victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night. Harden had 33 points and 13 assists and the Rockets rallied for a 111-104 win over the Pelicans to maintain their spot in the Western Conference standings with the postseason just days away. The Rockets had lost two in a row and needed the win to stay ahead of Portland in fourth place in the West. The Rockets got a boost from the return of Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley, who had both missed the last eight games with injuries.
The Boston Celtics are trying to finish the season on a high note. The Cleveland Cavaliers are ending with another puzzling tailspin. Rookie Kelly Olynyk matched a career high with 25 points and the short-handed Celtics dominated the Cavaliers in a 111-99 win Saturday night. Avery Bradley also scored 25 points for the Celtics, who built a 33-point lead early in the fourth quarter despite dressing only eight players.
Steve Clifford isn't exactly singing his team's praises after the Bobcats won for the sixth time in seven games. Whatever it is, we have two games to get it back.'' The Bobcats held on to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 111-105 on Saturday behind 29 points and 12 rebounds from Al Jefferson, but it was far from an impressive victory. The win came on the heels of a costly loss at Boston Friday night that dropped the Bobcats back to seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. Jefferson said the Bobcats need to find their mojo with two tough games coming up to close the season - at Atlanta on Monday night and at home against Chicago on Wednesday.
For all their flaws, the Washington Wizards had no business whatsoever losing to the Milwaukee Bucks - especially after Brandon Knight was scratched with a sore right hip seconds before tipoff. Still, the Wizards waited until the third quarter to start playing serious defense against a team short on ball-handlers. ''We just played defense that third quarter,'' Wizards point guard John Wall said. ''That's how we've got to play for 48 minutes and get teams out of their rhythm.'' Bradley Beal scored 26 points, and Wall added 15 points and eight assists for the Wizards, who also clinched the franchise's first winning record since 2008 - which was also the last time they made the playoffs.
DALLAS (AP) -- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is backing his public address announcer after the team had to pay a $25,000 fine because the announcer criticized referee Danny Crawford on Twitter after a recent game.
The Clippers tuned up for the playoffs with a clinic on scoring in transition, whether it was going coast-to-coast for layups or ferocious dunks. The display produced a 117-101 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, giving the Clippers their franchise record-tying 56th win of the regular season. Blake Griffin had 27 points and nine assists, DeAndre Jordan had 21 points and nine rebounds, and Chris Paul added 17 points and 10 assists. We're at our best when we're running and getting stops.'' J.J. Redick had 13 points and Matt Barnes scored 12 in helping the Clippers improve to 33-7 at Staples Center, breaking the franchise record for home victories in a season.
Injured Boston guard Rajon Rondo and center Jared Sullinger are sitting out for the Celtics against Cleveland. He was injured against Atlanta on Wednesday and didn't play Friday when the Celtics broke a nine-game losing streak against Charlotte. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the ankle became swollen overnight and the decision was made to sit him out.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Bobcats coach Steve Clifford says point guard Kemba Walker is sitting out Saturday night's game against the Philadelphia 76ers because of a groin injury.
Stephen Curry realizes a playoff berth is still a precious commodity for the Golden State Warriors, who have spent the majority of their existence watching the postseason from their collective couches in the Bay Area. Curry and the Warriors celebrated their latest playoff clincher at Staples Center with not much more than handshakes. Still, the win was sweet in so many ways for a franchise that has spent decades looking up at the once-mighty Los Angeles Lakers. Curry had 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, and the Warriors secured another playoff berth with a 112-95 victory over the Lakers on Friday.
For most of the season, the Miami Heat were chasing the Indiana Pacers. Control of the Eastern Conference again belongs to the Heat, after LeBron James scored 36 points and the two-time defending NBA champions opened the second half with a 16-0 run on the way to beating the Pacers 98-86 - a win that vaulted Miami a half-game ahead of Indiana in the race for a No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Miami (54-25) leads the Pacers (54-26) by the slimmest of margins in the East race.
Portland's Damian Lillard just needed to make one shot to get going. ''That first 3 felt real good,'' Lillard said. And then it happened a couple more times.'' Lillard scored 14 of his 16 points in a key run to rally the Portland Trail Blazers past the Jazz 111-99 on Friday night. When it finally did, the Jazz had no answer.
The San Antonio Spurs have said their goal this season was not to have the league's best record. Danny Green had a career-high 33 points and the San Antonio Spurs rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat the Phoenix Suns 112-104 on Friday and clinch home-court throughout the playoffs. That's just the extra bonus for us.'' Eric Bledsoe had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists to lead Phoenix (47-32), which fell into a tie with Memphis for the West's eighth seed. Kawhi Leonard scored 18 points for the Spurs and Tony Parker added 18 points and three assists in his return from a two-game absence due to a back injury.
The Memphis Grizzlies took care of their business and grabbed a hold of the Western Conference's last playoff spot. The Grizzlies used a third-quarter burst to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 117-95 on Friday night, then checked on the Phoenix-San Antonio game when they adjourned to the locker room. ''Before we came in the locker room they were already talking about it,'' Memphis guard Tony Allen, who scored 15 points, said of his teammates. ''The guys had it on their phones.'' By the time the postgame interviews started, the Suns had lost to the Spurs 112-104, leaving Phoenix and Memphis with 47-32 records.