|Hornets, Lakers claim first 2 playoff spots in West; 3 teams clinch in East|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 04 April 2008 23:08|
Five NBA teams wrapped up berths Friday night, nearly completing the playoff picture in the East. Out West, it's only just begun to take shape.
New Orleans and the Los Angeles Lakers became the first teams to secure postseason tickets in the power conference, where the Hornets hold a 1 1/2-game lead after their 118-110 victory over the New York Knicks.
Chris Paul had 33 points and 15 assists for the Hornets, who have never been better than a No. 4 seed in the playoffs.
``It's a great feeling,'' Paul said. ``It's my third year in the league and I've never been to the playoffs, but we finally did it. Now the hard work begins.''
In Los Angeles, Lamar Odom scored a season-high 31 points, Kobe Bryant added 25 points and 10 rebounds, and the Pacific Division-leading Lakers locked up a playoff spot for the 55th time in their 60 seasons as a franchise with a 112-108 victory over Dallas.
In other games, it was: Charlotte 105, Toronto 100; Philadelphia 109, Atlanta 104; Utah 90, San Antonio 64; Washington 109, Miami 95; Golden State 117, Memphis 86; Detroit 106, New Jersey 87; Indiana 105, Milwaukee 101; Phoenix 117, Minnesota 88; and Houston 79, Seattle 66.
The Lakers' victory came in a possible playoff preview. They're second and the Mavs are No. 7 in the West.
``It feels good to clinch,'' Bryant said. ``Obviously, there's plenty of work to be done. But that's the first step. It was similar to a playoff game. They're playing for their playoff lives. That means a lot of intensity, and lot of desperation, and we were able to respond to it.''
The Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers secured their postseason spots with victories, while the Toronto Raptors got in despite a loss. That leaves only one more spot in the East, and the Atlanta Hawks are three games ahead of Indiana with six to go in the race to get it.
Jazz 90, Spurs 64
At Salt Lake City, Mehmet Okur had 17 points and 16 rebounds, and Utah ended San Antonio's eight-game winning streak.
San Antonio matched its lowest point total in franchise history, set in a loss to Cleveland in March 1997. The Jazz held the defending NBA champion Spurs without a point for almost the first 4 minutes of the fourth quarter.
Suns 117, Timberwolves 88
At Phoenix, Steve Nash had 14 points and 11 assists, then sat out the final quarter while the Suns completed a rout of Minnesota that left them tied for the No. 5 seed in the West.
Al Jefferson scored 20 points on 11-of-26 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who fell to an NBA-worst 5-32 on the road.
Wizards 109, Heat 95
At Washington, Caron Butler scored 29 points as the Wizards clinched a playoff spot for the fourth straight season.
Ricky Davis had a season-high 33 points and Chris Quinn finished with 24 for the Heat, who must win two of their final six games to avoid tying the worst record in their 20-year history. Miami, an NBA-worst 13-63, went 15-67 in 1988-89, its first season in the league.
76ers 109, Hawks 104
At Atlanta, Andre Iguodala scored 30 points and Andre Miller had 23 to help Philadelphia wrap up its first playoff spot in three years.
Philadelphia stopped the Hawks' five-game winning streak and has won two straight and 21 of 28.
Rockets 79, SuperSonics 66
At Seattle, Tracy McGrady scored 18 of his 25 points in the third quarter, and Houston kept pace in the wild Western Conference playoff race by beating Seattle.
Nick Collison had 15 points and 11 rebounds, but the Sonics lost for the 20th time in 22 games. Rookie Kevin Durant slogged through the worst shooting night of his young career, missing his first eight attempts and finishing 2-of-17 with a season-low four points.
Bobcats 105, Raptors 100
At Toronto, Jason Richardson scored 27 points and Earl Boykins converted a three-point play after stealing the ball from T.J. Ford in the final minute of Charlotte's victory.
Chris Bosh had 23 points for the Raptors, who clinched a playoff spot after New Jersey lost to Detroit. Toronto has lost three of four and 14 of 20.
Warriors 117, Grizzlies 86
At Memphis, Tenn., Andris Biedrins had 21 points and 17 rebounds, and Golden State climbed within a half-game of eighth-place Denver in the Western Conference after snapping a two-game losing streak.
Rudy Gay led Memphis with 23 points.
Pistons 106, Nets 87
At Auburn Hills, Mich., Antonio McDyess scored 19 points, Rasheed Wallace added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Detroit moved to the verge of clinching the No. 2 seed in the East with its fourth straight victory.
New Jersey trails Atlanta by four games with six games left in the race for the East's last playoff spot.
Pacers 105, Bucks 101
At Milwaukee, Mike Dunleavy had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and Indiana pulled within three games of Atlanta for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Troy Murphy scored 17 points and Danny Granger added 13 for Indiana, which has missed the playoffs the last two seasons. Jermaine O'Neal had 11 points and six turnovers in his third game back after missing 33 with a sore left knee.