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NBA Today April 14
NBA Today April 14
Houston at Utah (9 p.m. EDT). The Rockets and Jazz are battling for third place in the Western Conference.
-Allen Iverson, Nuggets, scored 33 points to lead Denver to a 111-94 win over the Houston Rockets.
-Hedo Turkoglu, Magic, scored 24 points with eight assists in a 104-84 win over the Chicago Bulls.
Allen Iverson scored 33 points and J.R. Smith sparked the Nuggets out of their early doldrums with a 23-point performance in Denver's 111-94 rout of the Houston Rockets on Sunday night. All the Nuggets have to do to reach the playoffs for the fifth straight time is beat lowly Memphis on Wednesday night at home. Denver (49-32) moved a half-game ahead of Golden State for the eighth and final playoff spot.
MVP candidate Kobe Bryant had 20 points, five rebounds and five assists before sitting out the fourth quarter, and the Lakers routed the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs 106-85 for their seventh win in eight games. The Lakers (56-25), who clinched their first Pacific Division championship in four years and the No. 3 seed in the West on Friday night, assured themselves of a second-place finish in the conference.
Hedo Turkoglu scored 24 points, and the Orlando Magic beat the Chicago Bulls 104-84 to reach the 50-win mark for the first time in 12 years on Sunday night. Andres Nocioni led Chicago with 22 points and Luol Deng added 19, but it wasn't enough to stop the Magic from reaching 50 wins for the first time since 1995-96.
STRONG IN DEFEAT
Toronto's Chris Bosh scored 30 points in a 91-84 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.
``It's impossible to feel good because for three weeks we've been feeling stressed. You never play three playoff teams in three games in four nights in three different cities that had huge, huge ramifications. We survived it; we won two out of three, but we're still not out of the woods.'' - Nuggets coach George Karl after a 111-94 victory over the Houston Rockets. Denver needs to beat Memphis at home on Wednesday night to reach the playoffs for the fifth straight time.
Re: NBA Today April 14
Pacers must win Monday to keep playoff hopes alive
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Even if they win their final two games, the Indiana Pacers will need a lot of help to get into the postseason.
The Pacers will be trying to keep their slim playoff hopes alive Monday when they visit Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards.
Indiana (35-45) trails Atlanta by two games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have two games remaining, meaning the Pacers must win both of theirs and have the Hawks lose out for them to make the postseason.
Indiana concludes the regular season Wednesday at home against New York, while Atlanta hosts Orlando on Tuesday and visits Miami on Wednesday.
"We've got to get the job done, both games," Pacers guard Flip Murray said. "It's down to that."
Indiana suffered a critical defeat Saturday, falling 107-103 to Charlotte, while the Hawks lost to Boston.
"We had the table set, and with Atlanta losing we just did not get it done," coach Jim O'Brien said. "We can only try to control what we can do, and that's to win at Washington Monday."
Danny Granger scored a career-high 37 points - including 17 in the fourth quarter while playing with five fouls - a day after scoring 30 in a win at Philadelphia. The Pacers had won four straight and 10 of 13.
"We had everything to play for, our (playoff) lives were on the line," Granger said. "When a game is that important, there's no reason we shouldn't win it, especially against a team that's already been eliminated."
Mike Dunleavy added 22 points and seven assists for Indiana, loser of four of its last six games against the Wizards (42-38) and three of four in Washington.
"It's frustrating," forward Jermaine O'Neal said. "To come up short on a night where Atlanta lost is probably something we're going to think about for the next couple days. There's not much more you can really say about it."
The Wizards have already clinched a spot in the playoffs and have won four of five, including Saturday's 109-93 victory over the 76ers. Arenas was a factor for the first time in five games after missing 66 with a knee injury, scoring 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter.
Arenas continued to come off the bench, but played 25 minutes, the most time he's seen since his return.
"It's a world of difference, man," said Wizards forward Antawn Jamison, who had 25 points and 13 rebounds. "You miss it. For him to come out there and play the way he did says volumes about how much he means to this team. I'm glad that we're getting him this time of the season going into the playoffs. He makes us go."
Arenas has averaged 26.5 points in 17 games against the Pacers and 34.8 in his last four.
Forward Caron Butler missed Saturday's game with a bruised right knee and is day-to-day. The Wizards are 9-13 without him this season.
Re: NBA Today April 14
Lakers, Nuggets win big to gain control of their playoff fates
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Lakers and Nuggets took care of the hard part, winning important games against quality opponents to move within a victory of clinching the top and bottom spots in the Western Conference playoffs.
What's left for Los Angeles and Denver to reach their respective postseason goals seems fairly easy to handle.
Led by Kobe Bryant, the Lakers routed the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs 106-85 at home Sunday to move into sole possession of first in the Western Conference.
Late in Denver, the Nuggets helped the Lakers and themselves, blowing out the Rockets 111-94 to move a half-game ahead of Golden State for the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
The Lakers, who can finish no worse than No. 3 in the West, will earn the top seed and home-court advantage through the first three playoff rounds if they beat the visiting Sacramento Kings (38-42) on Tuesday night.
''It's still our responsibility to finish this the right way,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. ''And that was our message in the locker room after the game. Fortunately for us, we got some rest, got some guys who had a little bit of time to recover before Tuesday night.''
In other NBA games on Sunday, it was Detroit 91, Toronto 84; Cleveland 84, Miami 76; Orlando 104, Chicago 84; and Seattle 99, Dallas 95.
All the Nuggets have to do to reach the playoffs for the fifth straight season is beat lowly Memphis (22-58) on Wednesday night at home.
Bryant had 20 points, five rebounds and five assists before sitting out the fourth quarter for the Lakers.
''It was a big game for us,'' Bryant said. ''It was another step in the right direction. Going into the playoffs is all about momentum. Now, we just have to take it up another notch once the playoffs start.''
The Lakers went home after Sunday's game uncertain of their status because the Houston Rockets had a chance to overtake them for the conference title by winning their final three games. But Houston was throttled by Denver.
The Warriors could become the first team to win 50 games and miss the playoffs. To get in, the Warriors need to win at Phoenix on Monday night, beat Seattle on Wednesday and have Denver lose.
Bouncing in and out of the eighth and final playoff spot for a month, no team has had more of a roller-coaster ride than the Nuggets, who won a huge game at Golden State only to lose at Utah on Saturday night before bouncing back against the Rockets.
''It's impossible to feel good because for three weeks we've been feeling stressed,'' Denver coach George Karl said. ''You never play three playoff teams in three games in four nights in three different cities that had huge, huge ramifications. We survived it; we won two out of three, but we're still not out of the woods.''
Allen Iverson scored 33 points for Denver and J.R. Smith added 23.
As for the Rockets, they fell 1 1/2 games behind Los Angeles and can still secure the top seed in the West, but they're going to need plenty of help.
Tracy McGrady was flabbergasted the Rockets played so poorly with so much to play for on this night.
''That team needed a win badly and we played like it really didn't matter to us,'' said McGrady, who scored 16 points and was hounded by foul trouble. ''And at this point in the season, although we clinched, we still have to bring it every night.''
In Los Angeles, Tony Parker had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Spurs, and Tim Duncan added 16 points and 12 rebounds. San Antonio played without leading scorer Manu Ginobili, who missed his second game because of a strained left groin.
''Come playoff time, we'll have as good a chance as anybody to do well,'' San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.
SuperSonics 99, Mavericks 95
At Seattle, rookie Kevin Durant scored twice in the final 45 seconds, and the Sonics won what could be the team's last game in Seattle.
The team might be playing in Oklahoma City next season and is putting the finishing touches on the worst record in franchise history.
Earl Watson led Seattle with 21 points and 10 assists, while Nick Collison had 18 points and 11 rebounds as Seattle scored the final 10 points and handed Dallas a second straight loss.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 32 points and Seattle native Jason Terry added 25.
Magic 104, Bulls 84
At Chicago, Hedo Turkoglu scored 24 points, and Orlando reached the 50-win mark for the first time in 12 years.
Dwight Howard added 19 points even though he sat out the fourth quarter, and Rashard Lewis added 18.
Andres Nocioni led Chicago with 22 points and Luol Deng added 19.
Cavaliers 84, Heat 76
At Cleveland, Daniel Gibson made a 3-pointer and three straight free throws early in the fourth quarter to give the Cavs some cushion while LeBron James rested.
Cleveland moved closer to the East's No. 4 seed.
Delonte West scored 18 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 14 and 14 rebounds and James finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Cavaliers.
Ricky Davis scored 17 points and Daequan Cook and Earl Barron had 13 apiece for Miami (14-66), whose dismal season is nearly over.
Pistons 91, Raptors 84
At Auburn Hills, Mich., Rodney Stuckey scored 18 points, Jason Maxiell had 14 as Detroit won without playing its starters in the fourth quarter.
The loss drops Toronto (40-40) into a tie with Philadelphia for the Eastern Conference's sixth seed with two games left, although the Raptors have the tiebreaker. The sixth seed will play Orlando in the first round, while the seventh seed faces Detroit.
Chris Bosh had 30 points for Toronto.
Re: NBA Today April 14
Warriors cling to playoff hopes
By Brian Edwards
Golden State has only one scenario in which it can garner the eighth and final slot in the Western Conference playoffs. The Warriors have to win their two remaining games and hope that Memphis can upset Denver on Wednesday in the Mile High City.
The first step for Don Nelson’s team is to win tonight at Phoenix. Most sports books are listing the Suns as 5½-point favorites with a total of 232½. Golden St. is plus 210 (risk $100 to win $210) on the money line.
The Warriors are off 122-116 win over the Clippers, but they failed to cover the spread as 16 ½-point home favorites. The 238 combined points sailed ‘over’ the 216-point total. Stephen Jackson scored 28 points and Baron Davis added 25 points and nine assists.
Golden State (48-32 straight up, 34-46 against the spread) has failed to cover the number in four consecutive games and six of its last seven. On the road this season, the Warriors are 21-19 SU and 20-20 ATS. They are 10-14 ATS as road ‘dogs.
Phoenix (53-37, 38-39 ATS) returns home in this spot after winning two of three games of a recent road trip. The Suns prevailed in Memphis (127-113) and San Antonio (96-79) before losing a 101-90 decision Friday at Houston. Amare Stoudemire had 37 points and 11 rebounds, while Shaquille O’Neal added 16 points and 11 boards in the loss to the Rockets.
Mike D’Antonio’s squad has lost in three of its last four head-to-head meetings against Golden St, but the Suns won the last encounter by a 123-115 count as 7 ½-point home ‘chalk.’
Phoenix has been on fire at home recently, cashing tickets in seven of its last eight outings. For the season, the Suns are 28-11 SU and 18-20 ATS at home. They have watched the ‘over’ go 24-15 at US Airways Center.
The ‘under’ is on a 13-6 run for Golden St. Even better, the ‘under’ is on a 7-1 surge in the Warriors’ last eight road assignments.
The ‘over’ has hit in five consecutive Suns-Warriors meetings with the totals ranging anywhere from 224½-237.
Another team just barely clinging to life is Indiana, which needs to win its final two games and hope the Hawks lose their last two to get the final playoff spot in the East. The Pacers didn’t help their cause Saturday night when they lost at home to Charlotte, 107-103, as eight-point favorites.
Indiana (35-45 SU, 38-41 ATS) returns to the hardwood tonight at Washington. There was no overnight line due to the uncertain status of Caron Butler, who is listed as “questionable” with a sore right knee.
The Pacers have won two of three head-to-head meetings against the Wizards this year, but both victories came at home. Washington beat Indiana 103-90 as a six-point home favorite way back on Nov. 17.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--Atlanta hasn’t made the playoffs since the strike-shortened 1998-1999 campaign, when the Hawks beat the Pistons in a five-game series before getting swept by the Knicks. With a win either Tuesday at home against Orlando or Wednesday at Miami, Mike Woodson’s team can end that run of futility.
--Speaking of the Heat, they have seen the ‘under’ go 8-1 in their last nine games. Miami is a monster 18-point ‘dog tonight at Toronto.
--Cleveland can clinch home court in the first round of the playoffs with a home win tonight over Philadelphia.
--Quote of the Week: “I’m still the baddest 36-year-old ever created.” – Shaquille O’Neal, after leading the Suns to a win at San Antonio.