Clippers top Timberwolves to clinch playoff berth
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Danilo Gallinari scored 25 points and the Los Angeles Clippers clinched a playoff spot Tuesday night with a 122-111 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Coach Doc Rivers’ club is back in the postseason after falling short last year. Los Angeles finished 42-40 last season, missing the playoffs after making it six straight years — four under Rivers.
The Clippers (45-30) became the fifth Western Conference team to secure a postseason berth.
Lou Williams added 20 points off the bench for the Clippers, who outscored Minnesota’s reserves 53-25.
The Clippers have won six in a row, the longest active streak in the NBA, and 10 of 11 overall.
Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
BUCKS 108, ROCKETS 94
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Eric Bledsoe scored 23 points, including 16 in the decisive third quarter as Milwaukee topped Houston.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks, who improved to an NBA-best 56-19.
James Harden scored 23 and Chris Paul 19 for the Rockets, who lost for just the third time in 17 games. Harden shot 9 of 26, including 1 for 9 from 3-point range with Bledsoe closely guarding him throughout most of the game.
MAGIC 104, HEAT 99
MIAMI (AP) — Nikola Vucevic had 24 points and 16 rebounds, Jonathan Issac added 19 points and Orlando extended its longest winning streak in eight years to six games by downing Miami.
D.J. Augustin scored 17 points and Aaron Gordon finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Magic (37-38), who won the season series 3-1 and moved past the Heat (36-38) into eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Evan Fournier added 11 points for Orlando, which hadn’t had a winning streak this long since January 2011.
Dion Waiters scored 26 for the Heat, who lost on the night they retired Chris Bosh’s No. 1 jersey and raised it to the rafters during a halftime ceremony. Dwyane Wade had 22 points.
CELTICS 116, CAVALIERS 106
CLEVELAND (AP) — Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart each scored 21 points, and Boston broke away from a fourth-quarter tie to defeat Cleveland.
Kyrie Irving (rest) didn’t play for Boston, but the Celtics snapped a four-game losing streak and are 11-2 without their leading scorer.
Al Horford had 19 points, including eight in the fourth quarter and the go-ahead layup early in the period.
The Celtics ended the game with a 24-14 run also sparked by three-point plays from Smart and Marcus Morris to pull away.
Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 24 points.
The Celtics’ slide dropped them to fifth in the Eastern Conference with seven games to play in the regular season.
HORNETS 125, SPURS 116, OT
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kemba Walker scored 11 of his 38 points in overtime and Charlotte outlasted San Antonio to stretch its longest winning streak of the season to four games.
Walker took over in the extra period, scoring Charlotte’s first seven points and going 4 of 4 from the field, including a pair of clutch 3-pointers. He barely missed his third career triple-double, finishing with 11 assists and nine rebounds.
It was Charlotte’s first overtime win this season in five tries.
Dwayne Bacon established a career high for the second straight game, pouring in 24 points with four 3-pointers. Frank Kaminsky added 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Hornets, who are chasing Orlando and Miami for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
DeMar DeRozan had 30 points to lead the Spurs, but missed a jumper at the end of regulation that would have won the game. LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and 15 rebounds.
RAPTORS 112, BULLS 103
TORONTO (AP) — Norman Powell scored 20 points, Serge Ibaka had 16 and Toronto beat struggling Chicago for the eighth consecutive time.
Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry each added 14 points before sitting out the final quarter, and Pascal Siakam had 13. The Raptors never trailed and avoided their first three-game home losing streak of the season. Toronto lost to Charlotte on Sunday on a halfcourt buzzer-beater by Jeremy Lamb.
Wayne Selden scored 20 points as the Bulls lost for the seventh time in nine games. Chicago was without leading scorer Zach LaVine (bruised right thigh, right knee tendinitis) for the third straight game while forward Otto Porter Jr. (strained right rotator cuff) missed his fourth in a row.
NUGGETS 95, PISTONS 92
DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray scored 33 points, including six in the final minute, and Denver held off Detroit after nearly squandering a 27-point lead.
Trailing 66-39 at halftime, the Pistons cut it to one on a 3-pointer by Reggie Jackson with 11.2 seconds remaining before Murray hit a pair of free throws. Blake Griffin’s last-gasp 3-point attempt bounded away.
At 50-23, the Nuggets moved into a tie with Golden State for the top spot in the Western Conference. It’s the first 50-win season for Denver since the 2012-13 squad went 57-25.
Nikola Jokic finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds for his 51st double-double this season.
Griffin had 29 points and 15 rebounds for the playoff-chasing Pistons, who finished a 1-4 road trip. Andre Drummond had 13 points and 18 rebounds before fouling out.
KINGS 125, MAVERICKS 121
DALLAS (AP) — De’Aaron Fox scored 23 points, including a crucial basket to help Sacramento stay in front in the final minute against Dallas.
With the Kings leading by two, Fox drove and missed a layup but got his own rebound and tried again. The second attempt went in for a 121-117 lead with 26 seconds remaining, and the Kings finished 3-0 against Mavericks to sweep the season series for the first time since 1997-98.
Dallas rookie sensation Luka Doncic tied Magic Johnson with his seventh triple-double in his first season, getting 28 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. It’s the third-most triple-doubles by a rookie. Dwight Powell had 21 points and a season-high 13 rebounds.
Harrison Barnes scored 18 points in his first appearance in Dallas since the Mavericks traded him to Sacramento while he was playing in a game Feb. 6. Buddy Hield scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer to put the Kings ahead for good with 1:07 remaining.
HAWKS 130, PELICANS 120
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Rookie guard Trae Young had 33 points and 12 assists for his 24th double-double of the season, leading Atlanta past New Orleans.
Young finished 12 of 24 from the field, including 5 for 12 from 3-point range, and had one turnover in 31 minutes.
DeAndre’ Bembry and Dewayne Dedmon each scored 18 points, and the Hawks shot 19 for 51 from beyond the arc to win their third straight.
Julius Randle led the Pelicans with 24 points and nine rebounds.
Already playing without Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans’ lineup got thinner when guard Frank Jackson, who scored 20 points in 25 minutes, went to the locker room with a concussion with 7:19 left in the third quarter. He was inadvertently hit in the forehead by John Collins under the basket.
LAKERS 124, WIZARDS 106
LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James had 23 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds, and Los Angeles beat Washington for its first back-to-back victories since mid-January.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 29 points and JaVale McGee had 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who had lost 20 of 27 and plummeted out of the playoff race since their last set of consecutive wins.
Two days after beating Sacramento, the Lakers comfortably won this meeting of 11th-place teams whose playoff dreams have been wrecked by injuries. Washington has lost John Wall and Dwight Howard, while the Lakers don’t have Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart or Reggie Bullock.
Bradley Beal scored 21 of his 32 points in the second half for the Wizards, who opened a four-game road trip with their fifth straight loss. Washington (30-45) is on the brink of missing the playoffs for just the second time in six seasons.
The Lakers are out for the sixth consecutive season, tripling the previous longest postseason absence in franchise history.