|Rockets rout Clippers, Suns lose after blowing big 4th-quarter lead; both get playoff spots|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 07 April 2008 00:24|
Rookie reserve Aaron Brooks scored 18 points, and five teammates reached double figures in Houston's 105-79 victory over the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. The Rockets, who won their third straight, are fifth in the tight Western Conference but trail first-place New Orleans by only 2 1/2 games.
``We knew we were going to make the playoffs,'' Houston star Tracy McGrady said. ``What are we going to do when we get there? Clinching is pretty good, but it's not what we want to celebrate.''
At least the Rockets won their game.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 32 points and the Dallas Mavericks rallied from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Suns 105-98.
``Everything was good and for whatever reason, the lights went out, and we couldn't get back in it,'' Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said.
The Suns, outscored 27-9 in the fourth quarter, still clinched a playoff spot when Golden State and Denver both lost.
In the other NBA games Sunday, it was: Seattle 151, Denver 147 in two overtimes; New Orleans 108, Golden State 94; Detroit 91, Miami 75; Indiana 105, Milwaukee 97; San Antonio 72, Portland 65; Memphis 113, Minnesota 101; New York 100, Orlando 90; and the Los Angeles Lakers 114, Sacramento 92.
At Los Angeles, rookie Luis Scola scored 16 points, Luther Head added 15, McGrady had 13 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, Bobby Jackson had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Battier scored 11 for the Rockets, who shot 48.1 percent and outrebounded the Clippers 51-33.
Houston's Rafer Alston, averaging 13.2 points and 5.4 assists, missed his third game due to a sore left hamstring. But the Rockets got exceptional play from Jackson and Brooks, his replacements at point guard.
``We expect them to come out and fill the void,'' Alston said. ``That's the type of team we have. Both of them did the job tonight. Bobby started it off, and Aaron was phenomenal.''
Josh Powell had a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers (23-54), who have lost 21 of their past 25 games. Elton Brand, playing just his third game of the season, had 19 points and eight rebounds in 36 minutes, and Cuttino Mobley added 11 points for Los Angeles.
The Rockets led 62-42 at halftime and finished with a 58-41 rebounding edge.
At Phoenix, Josh Howard had 24 points and Brandon Bass 19 for the Mavericks, who used a smothering defense in a 16-0 run that put them ahead for good in a game the Suns had led nearly throughout. Phoenix went scoreless for just under 8 minutes, missing 12 shots in the process.
Nowitzki, in his third game back since missing four with a sprained left knee and ankle, scored 12 in the fourth quarter.
The victory lifted Dallas two games ahead of Denver and Golden State, who are tied for eighth place in the Western Conference, with five to play.
Amare Stoudemire had 31 points for the Suns, who were 3-for-19 from the field in the fourth. Steve Nash had 14 points and 10 assists.
Shaquille O'Neal had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Suns, whose season-best home winning streak ended at seven games.
SuperSonics 151, Nuggets 147, 2OT
Kevin Durant scored a season-high 37 points and fellow rookie Jeff Green had 24 of his season-high 35 after halftime as host Seattle damaged Denver's playoff hopes.
Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets with 38 points. Allen Iverson added 26 points and Kenyon Martin had 22.
Pistons 91, Heat 75
Rodney Stuckey scored 19 points, Tayshaun Prince added 14 and visiting Detroit won its fifth straight to wrap up the No. 2 seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Earl Barron scored 20 points for Miami, which lost its seventh straight, fell to 13-64 and moved closer to clinching the NBA's worst record.
Spurs 72, Trail Blazers 65
Tim Duncan had 27 points and 11 rebounds and visiting San Antonio won its 12th straight against Portland.
Manu Ginobili's dunk with 1:31 left all but sealed it for the Spurs, who handed the Blazers their fifth consecutive loss.
All-Star guard Brandon Roy, who returned after a four-game absence because of a groin injury, led the Blazers with 18 points.
Pacers 105, Bucks 97
Travis Diener scored 15 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, and host Indiana remained in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt.
Danny Granger had 27 points, Mike Dunleavy added 17 points and seven assists, and Jeff Foster had a season-high 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Pacers, who have won eight of 11. Indiana trails Atlanta by three games for the eighth playoff spot in the East with five games to play.
Michael Redd led Milwaukee with 24 points and Charlie Villanueva added 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Grizzlies 113, Timberwolves 101
Mike Miller scored 34 points and hit a season-high eight 3-pointers to help visiting Memphis hand Minnesota its fourth straight loss and sixth in the past seven.
Ryan Gomes led Minnesota with 19 points and Al Jefferson had 18.
Knicks 100, Magic 90
Rookie Wilson Chandler scored a season-high 23 points, Zach Randolph added 20 points and 11 rebounds, and host New York snapped a five-game losing streak.
The Knicks won for just the third time in 20 games, with the previous two victories coming against league-worst Miami.
Lakers 114, Kings 92
Kobe Bryant scored 29 points, Vladimir Radmanovic matched his season high with 21 and the visiting Lakers won their fourth straight and stayed on track for the Pacific Division title.
Radmanovic tied his career high with 14 rebounds, while Pau Gasol added 20 points and nine rebounds for Los Angeles. Although the Lakers still trail New Orleans by 1 1/2 games for the Western Conference lead, they moved two games ahead of Phoenix in the Pacific Division with five games to play.