|Race for 8th place still even in the West; Pacers tighten race in East with win over Atlanta|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 08 April 2008 23:47|
Nothing happened to sort out the races for eighth place in the NBA on Tuesday, but check back in another day.
That's when Denver and Golden State, tied for the final spot in the Western Conference at 47-31, have a huge matchup in Oakland, Calif.
``Two good teams who deserve to go to the playoffs are going to battle on Thursday night,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said. ``When this thing all started evolving six or eight weeks ago, I remember circling the game with Golden State. We could get in (to the playoffs) if we don't win. It could give us a big leg up if we do win.''
Denver routed the Los Angeles Clippers 117-99 on Tuesday, while Golden State beat Sacramento 140-132.
The Atlanta Hawks could have moved to the brink of their first playoff berth since 1999, but the Indiana Pacers beat them 112-98. Instead of being eliminated from postseason contention, the Pacers pulled within two games with four to play.
``If we lose that game, it was over,'' Indiana's Danny Granger said. ``We definitely had that sense of urgency, and it's carrying us through right now.''
In other games, it was: Charlotte 121, Minnesota 119; Miami 95, Chicago 88; Phoenix 127, Memphis 113; Boston 107, Milwaukee 104 in overtime; Utah 77, New Orleans 66; New York 98, Detroit 94; Dallas 99, Seattle 83; and Portland 112, the Los Angeles Lakers 103.
Joe Johnson scored 30 points for the Hawks, who with a victory would have needed just one more win or a New Jersey loss the rest of the way to clinch a berth.
``We acted like we didn't want to play tonight, and if you can't get up for this game, you don't need to be playing at all,'' he said.
Denver's Carmelo Anthony scored 36 points in Los Angeles, giving him 121 in the past three games. The NBA's fourth-leading scorer has shot 49-for-72 over the past three games.
``It's got to be like that Thursday,'' the 6-foot-8 forward said. ``I've got confidence it will be like that Thursday. It's a big game for us. Do I believe we have to win? No. But it's a must-win for us.''
That game matches the league's top-scoring teams, but neither play much defense. The Warriors had their highest-scoring game of the season Tuesday, but allowed the short-handed Kings to do the same.
``It's hard to be disappointed when you win and you score 140 points, but we're going to have to start guarding people a lot better than we did tonight,'' Golden State coach Don Nelson said. ``They have shot-makers, but it's hard to get a stop for us right now. ... I'm just going to accept this win as No. 47. We're probably going to need 50 to make the playoffs, or 51. I told our team we need to win them all.''
Baron Davis had 33 points and nine assists, Stephen Jackson added 20 points, and Andris Biedrins had 17 points and 17 rebounds. The Warriors scored 77 points in the first half and stayed safely ahead of a Sacramento team missing the injured Ron Artest and Brad Miller.
Jazz 77, Hornets 66
Mehmet Okur had 22 points and 17 rebounds to help Utah clinch the Northwest Division and snap New Orleans' 11-game home winning streak.
Deron Williams had 16 assists and outplayed Chris Paul, who finished with nine assists and only four points on 2-for-11 shooting. The Hornets were held to their lowest point total of the season and had their five-game winning streak snapped.
Trail Blazers 112, Lakers 103
Brandon Roy scored 23 points and matched his career high with 12 assists, LaMarcus Aldridge and Channing Frye each added 22 points, and Portland snapped a five-game losing streak.
Kobe Bryant finished with 34 points for Los Angeles, which had its four-game winning streak snapped. Pau Gasol had 21 points and 13 rebounds in the Lakers' sixth straight loss at the Rose Garden.
Celtics 107, Bucks 104, OT
After sitting out their previous game, Boston's Big Three returned in Milwaukee to help the Celtics win their seventh straight.
Kevin Garnett scored 21 points, Ray Allen had 11 and Paul Pierce, who returned to the team after the birth of his daughter, had 14.
Suns 127, Grizzlies 113
Amare Stoudemire had 28 points and 11 rebounds, and Phoenix beat Memphis for the eighth straight time despite playing without Shaquille O'Neal, who had a right hip contusion.
Rudy Gay matched his career high with 36 points for the hosts.
Mavericks 99, SuperSonics 83
Jason Terry scored 22 points, Josh Howard added 17, and Dallas crept closer to a playoff berth while sending visiting Seattle to its club-record 60th loss.
Brandon Bass scored 13 off the bench for the Mavericks, and Dirk Nowitzki chipped in with 11 points and 12 rebounds in his fourth game since returning from knee and ankle injuries.
Knicks 98, Pistons 94
Wilson Chandler scored all of his 19 points in the first half, and New York built a huge lead in snapping Detroit's five-game winning streak.
Jamal Crawford scored 16 for the visiting Knicks, who have won two straight after losing 10 of 11 games.
Bobcats 121, Timberwolves 119
Jason Richardson scored 36 points and host Charlotte withstood 40 points from Al Jefferson.
Jefferson hit 18 of 25 shots and added 10 rebounds, while Ryan Gomes scored 24 points and Randy Foye had 19 for the Timberwolves, who lost their fifth straight game.
Heat 95, Bulls 88
Kasib Powell scored a career-high 18 points in his first game back from the NBA Development League, and Miami snapped a seven-game losing streak the day after coach Pat Riley was elected to the Hall of Fame.
Luol Deng scored 19 of his 25 points in the first half for the visitors, who were eliminated from postseason contention.