Spurs clinch top spot in West, beat Suns
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — San Antonio ensured it will finish top of the NBA Western Conference’s regular-season standings by beating Phoenix 112-104 on Friday, thanks chiefly to Danny Green’s career-high 33 points.
Meanwhile in the Eastern Conference, Miami leapfrogged Indiana back to the top of the standings by beating the Pacers.
Elsewhere, Minnesota’s Corey Brewer put in an outstanding individual performance to lead the Timberwolves over playoff-bound Houston, and Oklahoma City ensured it will have at least the No.2 seed in the Western Conference by beating New Orleans.
San Antonio’s Green was 7 for 10 on 3-pointers in pushing the Spurs to victory without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, who were both rested for the second of back-to-back games.
Their absence was offset by the return of Tony Parker from a back injury, and he finished with 18 points and three assists.
Eric Bledsoe had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists to lead Phoenix, which fell into a tie with Memphis for the West’s eighth seed.
Miami’s LeBron James had 36 points in the Heat’s crucial 98-86 win over Indiana.
Mario Chalmers added 13 points for the Heat, who scored the first 16 points of the second half and weren’t in trouble again, taking a half-game lead over the Pacers.
Paul George scored 22 for Indiana, which must now count on the Heat dropping at least one of their remaining three games against Atlanta, Washington and Philadelphia.
Minnesota’s Corey Brewer scored a career-high 51 points yet the Timberwolves still needed a Gorgui Dieng jump shot with 4.6 seconds left to take a 112-110 win over Houston.
Brewer made 19 of 30 shots, easily surpassing his previous career high of 29 points. He became the fifth player this season to score 50 in a game, and the Wolves scored a staggering 39 points in transition against Houston’s woeful defense.
James Harden had 33 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Rockets, including the tying 3-pointer with 17 seconds left, but there was still time for Dieng to calmly slotted the game-winner.
Oklahoma City stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored 27 points and 24 points respectively to lead the Thunder to a 116-94 win over New Orleans.
The Thunder shot 54 from the field, made 23 of 27 free throws and committed just 11 turnovers. Oklahoma City led by 25 points at the end of the third quarter, so Durant and Westbrook rested in the fourth.
Darius Miller scored a career-high 18 points for the Pelicans, who struggled without injured starters Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon.
New York kept a pulse in its flagging playoff hopes with a 108-100 win at Toronto.
Carmelo Anthony scored 30 points and Amare Stoudemire had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks.
DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points for the Raptors, who let down the fans who had come to see them clinch the Atlantic Division title for only the second time in franchise history, but the Canadian club did take that prize later in the night when nearest rival Brooklyn lost.
The Nets went down 93-88 to Atlanta, which moved to the verge of a playoff spot.
Paul Millsap had 27 points and 10 rebounds while Jeff Teague added 22 for the Hawks, who remain two games ahead of the Knicks with three to play.
Teague got the better of his little brother Marquis, who was forced to play extended minutes while the Nets rested some regulars.
Chicago came from 18 points down to beat Detroit 106-98 and notch a seventh-straight win.
D.J. Augustin scored 24 points and Taj Gibson added 17 for the Bulls, who moved a game ahead of Toronto for third in the Eastern Conference. They also clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with Brooklyn falling to Atlanta.
Chicago outscored Detroit 32-24 in the third quarter to pull within 10 and went on a 15-0 run in the fourth to turn an eight-point deficit into a 90-83 lead.
Portland stayed in the race to host a first-round playoff series by winning 111-99 at Utah, with Wesley Matthews scoring 21 points.
Golden State clinched a playoff berth with a 112-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, with Stephen Curry having 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
Washington overcame some poor shooting to beat win 96-86 at Orlando, with Nene scoring 17 points.
Boston ended a nine-game losing slump by edging a hard-finishing Charlotte 106-103, with Avery Bradley scoring 22 points.
Memphis put in a big third quarter to beat Philadelphia 117-95, with Marc Gasol having 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Milwaukee preserved its slim hopes of avoiding last place in the standings by downing Cleveland 119-116, with Brandon Knight scoring 24 points.