|One spot left in East, but West going down to wire|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 13 April 2007 23:13|
The NBA's regular season headed into its final weekend with two spots left in the Western Conference, and the Lakers playing the worst of the three teams competing for them.
Phoenix beat Los Angeles 93-85 on Friday night, the Lakers' fourth straight loss and eighth in 10 games. Having dropped to .500 for the first time this season, the Lakers are a half-game ahead of Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 7 seed and a likely first-round matchup with the Suns.
The Lakers have two games left.
``I think we have to win both of our last two games, personally,'' coach Phil Jackson said.
The Clippers and Warriors are playing much better. The Clippers beat Portland 107-89 for their ninth win in 13 games, while Golden State has won six of seven after beating Sacramento 125-108.
The Clippers and Warriors each have three games remaining.
``This is up to us. We don't expect any of them to lose,'' Clippers star Elton Brand said, referring to the Warriors and Lakers. ``I'm disappointed we're in the situation that we are in now. We can't look back - we have to win. We need to go 3-0.''
In other games Friday night, it was: Toronto 87, Detroit 84; Milwaukee 104, Boston 102; Washington 98, Atlanta 85; New Jersey 100, New York 86; Miami 100, Indiana 96; Denver 107, New Orleans 105; San Antonio 110, Minnesota 91; Chicago 100, Charlotte 81; and Utah 104, Dallas 89.
Baron Davis scored 25 points on his 28th birthday, and the Warriors won for the 13th time in 18 games while playing in front of a large contingent of their fans who made the trip to Sacramento.
Golden State hasn't made the playoffs since 1994.
``We'll probably have to win out to have a chance,'' Warriors coach Don Nelson said. ``This was the first step, and we've got three more steps to go.''
The Eastern Conference is clearer. The Nets clinched a spot and eliminated the Knicks with a 100-86 victory in New Jersey, leaving one spot left. Orlando has the lead for it.
``At one point, playoffs for us seemed farfetched in a lot of peoples' minds,'' said Vince Carter, who led New Jersey with 25 points. ``As a unit, we stuck together. As bad as we played some nights, we still had our goal of making the playoffs.''
Nuggets 107, Hornets 105
Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points, Allen Iverson added 23 and Denver spoiled the Hornets' final game in Oklahoma City with their eighth straight victory.
Raptors 87, Pistons 84
At Toronto, Anthony Parker scored 21 points and the Raptors moved closer to clinching home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Chris Bosh added 18 points and 16 rebounds.
Richard Hamilton had 24 points for the Pistons, who clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday. They rested Chauncey Billups and sat their starters in the fourth quarter.
Heat 100, Pacers 96
At Miami, Dwyane Wade scored 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, plus got a steal that set up James Posey's go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:29 left.
Danny Granger scored 24 points and Mike Dunleavy added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Indiana, which fell 1 1/2 games behind Orlando for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Jazz 104, Mavericks 89
Carlos Boozer had 32 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, helping visiting Utah end a five-game losing streak.
The Jazz, trying to catch Houston for home-court advantage in their first-round series, had dropped six of seven. Utah hadn't won in Dallas since Dec. 20, 2002, dropping seven straight.
Spurs 110, Timberwolves 91
At Minneapolis, Manu Ginobili scored 21 points to help San Antonio win its sixth straight win and 25th in 28 games.
Bulls 100, Bobcats 81
Ben Gordon scored 20 points, and host Chicago won for the ninth time in 11 games to move a half-game ahead of Cleveland and maintain a 1 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The 48 wins are the most for the Bulls since 1997-98, when they closed out the Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen era with 62 victories and their sixth championship in eight years.
Wizards 98, Hawks 85
DeShawn Stevenson scored 25 points and visiting Washington used a 14-0 run at the end of the first half to end its six-game losing streak. The playoff-bound Wizards (40-39) were on the verge of falling below .500 for the first time since mid-December.
Bucks 104, Celtics 102
At Boston, Charlie Bell scored 24 points and Dan Gadzuric added a season-high 21 points and 11 rebounds to help Milwaukee snap a four-game losing streak.
Gerald Green led the Celtics with 21 points. Leon Powe had 18 points and Ryan Gomes added 13 for Boston, which lost its sixth straight.