Streaking Rockets top hot Nuggets

Posted: Sunday, April 17, 2005

HOUSTON #&151; Tracy McGrady shook off a poor start to score 32 points, Mike James gave Houston a huge lift off the bench and the Rockets won their fifth straight game Saturday night, 115-87 over the streaking Denver Nuggets.

James scored 23 points, Yao Ming had 13 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks and his backup, Dikembe Mutombo, added 11 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks to help the Rockets end the Nuggets' 10-game winning streak in a Western Conference showdown critical to playoff positioning.

With two games left in the regular season, the Rockets are tied with Sacramento #&151; a 116-98 loser in Phoenix on Saturday night #&151; for fifth place in the Western Conference, a game ahead of seventh-place Denver. The Rockets also took the tiebreaker over the Nuggets in the event they finish with the same record.

Kenyon Martin led the Nuggets with 22 points and nine rebounds.

Suns 116, Kings 98

PHOENIX #&151; Amare Stoudemire scored 22 of his 38 points in a spectacular third quarter and Phoenix moved within a game of clinching home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Stoudemire, combining thunderous, acrobatic dunks with outside jumpers, made nine of 10 shots in the third, when the Suns opened a 27-point lead en route to their fourth win in a row. His only miss in the quarter was a 3-point try at the buzzer.

Joe Johnson scored 22 points and Shawn Marion and Leandro Barbosa added 17 apiece in the Suns' 61st victory of the season, one shy of the franchise record. Phoenix leads San Antonio by two games for the NBA's best record with two to play. One Suns' victory or Spurs' loss will ensure Phoenix the best record in the league.

Sacramento, which entered the game with a four-game winning streak, fell into a tie with Houston for the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference.

Eddie House led the Kings with 17 points.

Spurs 97, Grizzlies 75

SAN ANTONIO #&151; Bruce Bowen scored 15 points to help San Antonio rout Memphis, the fourth straight game the Grizzlies have missed a chance to clinch a playoff spot.

Memphis needs a victory or a Minnesota loss to wrap up a playoff spot. Minnesota will face Seattle at home Sunday night, while the Grizzlies will return to action Monday night at home against the Spurs.

The Grizzlies also failed to take advantage Spurs forward Tim Duncan's offensive struggles. In his second game back since missing 12 games because of a sprained ankle, Duncan went 3-of-11 from the floor and scored 11 points in 23 minutes.

Pau Gasol led Memphis with 17 points.

Bucks 113, Magic 103

MILWAUKEE #&151; Desmond Mason scored 22 points in three quarters to help Milwaukee Bucks snap a four-game losing streak.

Milwaukee guard T.J. Ford shot baskets with his doctor's blessing Saturday for the first time since bruising his spinal cord almost 14 months ago.

Dwight Howard led Orlando with 19 points. The Magic have lost seven straight.

Knicks 100, Bobcats 98

CHARLOTTE, N.C. #&151; Stephon Marbury hit a jumper with 1.7 seconds left to lift New York past Charlotte.

Marbury, who was benched for the entire fourth quarter on Thursday night in a victory over Cleveland, never gave up the ball in the final 20 seconds.

He dribbled off a screen, getting away from Brevin Knight for an instant, and buried an 18-footer from the right wing for the last of his 19 points.

Charlotte had a final chance, but Malik Allen missed a 21-foot shot from the top of the key as time expired.

Jamal Crawford added 17 points, and Kurt Thomas had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks, who have won three of four following a nine-game losing streak.

The Bobcats played most of the way without forward Emeka Okafor, who suffered a right thigh bruise after getting tangled up with New York's Michael Sweetney early in the first quarter. Okafor left the game for good in the second quarter, finishing with six points and three rebounds in 15 minutes.

Bulls 114, Hawks 105

ATLANTA #&151; Chicago rookie Chris Duhon made eight 3-pointers for a career-high 24 points, powering the Bulls past the Hawks.

Duhon scored 15 points on five 3-pointers in the third period to help the Bulls overcome a 19-point deficit. The Bulls outscored the Hawks 36-19 in the period en route to their 14th victory in 17 games.

Andres Nocioni scored 19 points for Chicago, Kirk Hinrich had 17 points and nine assists, and Ben Gordon added 16 points. Tony Delk led the Hawks with 18 points.

Clippers 94, Hornets 89

LOS ANGELES #&151; Bobby Simmons scored 21 points, Elton Brand added 20 and Los Angeles beat New Orleans to match its best home record in 12 years.

The Clippers finished 27-14 at Staples Center, tying the mark they compiled in 1992-93 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

J.R. Smith and Dan Dickau scored 17 points each to lead New Orleans, which lost its seventh in a row and fell to 7-34 on the road, worst in the Western Conference.

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