Wizards clinch playoff berth

Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2005


  Houston Rockets' Yao Ming (11) of China blocks a shot attempt by Memphis Grizzlies' Shane Battier (31) as Rockets' Tracey McGrady (1) and Clarence Weatherspoon, left, defend in the third quarter Wednesday, April 13, 2005, in Houston. The Rockets beat the Grizzlies 100-92. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Houston Rockets' Yao Ming (11) of China blocks a shot attempt by Memphis Grizzlies' Shane Battier (31) as Rockets' Tracey McGrady (1) and Clarence Weatherspoon, left, defend in the third quarter Wednesday, April 13, 2005, in Houston. The Rockets beat the Grizzlies 100-92.

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

WASHINGTON — Larry Hughes scored 23 points and the Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 93-82 on Wednesday night to earn their first playoff berth since 1997.

The Wizards clinched the spot when New Jersey lost to Indiana minutes after their win.

Gilbert Arenas added 21 points and Antawn Jamison had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Wizards, who led by 22 points in the first quarter.

The victory gave the Wizards a 2-1 lead in the season series against the Bulls, a stat that would determine home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs if the teams finish tied for fourth.

Wizards starting center Brendan Haywood, activated Wednesday after missing 10 games with a broken thumb, finished with seven points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich each scored 21 points for the Bulls, who played without leading scorer Eddy Curry (irregular heartbeat), Andres Nocioni (suspended) and, for most of the game, Tyson Chandler. Chandler was ejected with 3:29 left in the first quarter for stepping on Haywood's midsection after pushing him to the floor going for a rebound.

Pacers 90, Nets 86

INDIANAPOLIS — Reggie Miller scored seven of his 22 points in a late 22-second flurry to help the Pacers rally from a six-point deficit and clinched their eighth straight playoff berth.

Indiana has won eight of its last nine games and finished its remarkable run to the postseason after playing nearly half the season without four of its top six players including All-Stars Jermaine O'Neal and Ron Artest.

Jason Kidd had 29 points, 15 rebounds and six assists for the Nets, who dropped 1 1/2 games behind idle Philadelphia in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The loss ended the Nets' three-game winning streak.

Miller completed a four-point play to cut the lead to 83-81, then hit another 3 to tie it at 84 with 2:00 left. Fred Jones followed that with a 22-footer to make it 86-84 with 1:12 left and after Carter drew his fourth foul with 17 seconds to go, Anthony Johnson hit one free throw to make it 87-84.

Carter missed a potential tying 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Bobcats 105, Hawks 84

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Emeka Okafor had 17 points and 11 rebounds as the expansion Bobcats guaranteed they would not finish with the worst record in the NBA.

The win was the 17th of the season for the Bobcats and moved them five games ahead of Atlanta (12-66) with just four games to play.

Josh Smith had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks.

Pistons 103, Magic 94

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Ben Wallace became the fifth player in NBA history to have 100 blocks and 100 steals in five straight seasons and six Pistons scored in double figures.

The Pistons have won eight in a row, matching a season high.

Rookie Jameer Nelson scored a season-high 30 points for the Magic, who have lost five straight and 16 of 20.

Wallace joined Hakeem Olajuwon, Julius Erving, Sam Lacey and David Robinson as the only players to have 100 blocks and 100 steals in five consecutive seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Wallace finished with nine points, 13 rebounds, two steals and no blocks.

Detroit's Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Carlos Arroyo each scored 14 points, while Antonio McDyess had 12, Rasheed Wallace 11 and Chauncey Billups 10.

Celtics 111, Bucks 108

MILWAUKEE — Paul Pierce scored 32 points, including the game-winning basket with 19 seconds left, and the Celtics clinched a playoff berth.

Antoine Walker and Ricky Davis each had 17 points for the Celtics, who increased their lead in the Atlantic Division over Philadelphia to 3 1/2 games with four to play. Boston's magic number to clinch the title and the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs is two.

Michael Redd scored 28 points for the Bucks, who lost their third straight, while Dan Gadzuric added a career-high 22.

Timberwolves 116, Warriors 100

MINNEAPOLIS — Kevin Garnett posted his first triple-double of the season, finishing with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.

This was his 17th career triple-double for Garnett, last season's MVP, and the first since a 20-point, 22-rebound, 10-assist night against Denver in the first round of the playoffs last April.

Latrell Sprewell scored 27 points to lead the Timberwolves.

Mickael Pietrus had 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting for the Warriors, who played their final road game of the season.

Rockets 100, Grizzlies 92

HOUSTON — Yao Ming scored 28 points and Tracy McGrady had 23 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to lead Houston to its fourth straight victory.

Yao converted a three-point play with 69 seconds left, McGrady found Mike James wide open in the corner for a huge 3 and the Rockets made their final four free throws to hold off a furious second-half rally by the Grizzlies.

Mike Miller led Memphis with a career-high 37 points on 15-for-24 shooting but he missed his final two attempts in the Grizzlies' last ditch effort to overcome a 16-point deficit. Pau Gasol added 20 points and eight rebounds for Memphis.

Jazz 93, Spurs 91

SALT LAKE CITY — Mehmet Okur put back a rebound with 2.4 seconds remaining and Utah spoiled Tim Duncan's return and possibly San Antonio's chances at the best record in the NBA.

San Antonio trailed idle Phoenix by one game entering the night for the league's best record, but fell further behind instead of making up ground thanks to Okur — again. Okur scored on an offensive rebound at the buzzer in January, snapping Utah's 18-game losing streak to San Antonio in January.

Manu Ginobili scored 21 points, but missed a baseline jumper that could have forced overtime.

Duncan finished with 17 points and seven rebounds after missing 12 games with a sprained ankle.

Okur finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds and Matt Harpring scored 17 points, including two free throws with 14 seconds left.

Nuggets 116, Hornets 102

DENVER — Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points to lead seven Denver players in double figures and the Nuggets extended their winning streak to a season-high nine games.

Denver won its 10th straight home game and 23rd of 25 overall.

Marcus Camby had six points, 10 rebounds, five assists, five blocks and two steals for Denver, while Earl Boykins had 16 points and 11 assists. Wesley Person hit three key first-half 3-pointers and had 17 points, while Nene added 14 points and Kenyon Martin had 12, helping the Nuggets shoot 50 percent.

J.R. Smith had 25 points for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight.

Mavericks 95, SuperSonics 90

SEATTLE — Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points to lead Dallas to its fifth straight victory.

It was Seattle's sixth straight loss and kept the SuperSonics from clinching the Northwest Division title. Seattle needs one win or a loss by Denver for its first division title since 1998.

Nowitzki made two free throws with 1:14 left to break an 87-87 tie. Ray Allen made one free throw for Seattle with 58 seconds left. Jason Terry followed with a baseline jumper to give the Mavericks a 91-88 lead.

Seattle's Antonio Daniels missed a jumper with 39 seconds left and Nowitzki hit a 16-footer from the baseline with 17 seconds remaining to put the game away. He added two free throws in the final seconds as Dallas improved to 20-2 when Nowitzki scores at least 30 points.

Allen had 19 points for Seattle, while Daniels added 17.

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