The surging San Antonio Spurs and surprising New Orleans Hornets are in a virtual tie at the top of the Western Conference. At the other end of the West playoff race, the Nuggets, Warriors and Mavericks are even.
The defending champion Spurs turned a much-hyped matchup with the Houston Rockets in San Antonio into a rout Sunday, as Tony Parker and Michael Finley scored 22 points in a 109-88 victory.
The Spurs (51-23) have won seven straight and are percentage points behind New Orleans (50-22) at the top of both the Southwest Division and the West.
The Hornets reached 50 victories for the first time since 1997-98 by beating the Toronto Raptors 118-111, behind 32 points from David West.
``It's huge for us,'' West said of reaching 50. ``I don't know if many people expected us to be where we are. We feel good about it but we're not settling for just 50. We're trying to win the West, trying to seal up the Southwest division. We're going to have to continue to play at a high level.''
In Oakland, Calif., Monta Ellis scored 30 points and Kelenna Azubuike hit two clutch shots down the stretch to help Golden State beat the Mavericks 114-104 and create a three-way tie with Dallas and Denver for seventh place in the Western Conference.
In other NBA games, Minnesota 110, Utah 103; Atlanta 114, New York 109; Boston 88, Miami 62; Cleveland 91, Philadelphia 88; Sacramento 120, Seattle 107; and the L.A. Lakers 126, Washington 120 in overtime.
With nine games remaining, Dallas, Golden State and Denver are all even at 45-28. If the season ended today, the Warriors would be on the outside looking in at the playoffs because they have lost two of three to both the Nuggets and Mavericks. But if Golden State manages to beat Denver and Dallas in their final meetings, the Mavericks would be the odd team out in a three-way tie.
``I'm not excited for us,'' Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. ``We'd like to be third or fourth. ``We don't want to be part of this three team, seventh seed or eighth seed or whatever.''
With star forward Dirk Nowitzki sidelined with knee and ankle injuries, the Mavericks could have a tough time making a drive for a playoff spot. Dallas fell to 1-2 without Nowitzki, with the two losses coming to Denver and Golden State.
The Mavs travel to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Monday night before returning home to host the Warriors on Wednesday.
``With Dirk or without Dirk, it's going to be tough,'' said Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd, who had 13 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds. ``With the West, there are no nights off, you've got to play your best game each night and everybody's fighting not just for the playoffs but for seeding. One game can move you up or down so this is what basketball is all about. You want to be in a competitive situation and I'm right in the middle of it.''
Celtics 88, Heat 62
At Boston, Kevin Garnett scored twice before Miami made a basket, and the Celtics held the Heat to an NBA-record low 17 field goals.
The matchup of the NBA's best team and its worst was even more lopsided than anticipated. Boston was up 27-4 after 10 minutes.
Leon Powe had 17 points and 13 rebounds for Boston, and Garnett finished with 12 points, five assists and eight rebounds in 21 minutes.
The previous record for fewest field goals in a game came against Miami in April 1999, when Chicago managed only 18.
Lakers 126, Wizards 120
At Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored six of his 26 points in overtime and the Lakers snapped a two-game losing skid.
Sasha Vujacic scored 20 points, Luke Walton added 19, Vladimir Radmanovic 18 and Lamar Odom had 10 points and 13 rebounds as the Lakers notched their 50th victory for the 29th time in franchise history.
Rookie Nick Young led the Wizards with a career-high 27 points and DeShawn Stevenson matched him.
Timberwolves 110, Jazz 103
At Minneapolis, Al Jefferson had 22 points and eight rebounds and Rashad McCants scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half for Minnesota.
Corey Brewer tied a career high with 16 points and had seven rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have beaten the Jazz at home twice this season.
Carlos Boozer had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the short-handed Jazz, who are nearly unbeatable at home but just 16-22 on the road this season. The Jazz were missing Andrei Kirilenko (calf) and Mehmet Okur (illness).
Hawks 114, Knicks 109
At Atlanta, Marvin Williams scored 27 points and Joe Johnson had 23 to help Atlanta win its third straight.
The Hawks increased their lead over New Jersey to 2 1/2 games for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Jamal Crawford led the Knicks with 39 points - 19 coming in the third quarter.
Cavaliers 91, 76ers 88
At Cleveland, LeBron James made a twisting bank shot with 19.3 seconds left to put the Cavaliers ahead to stay.
James finished with 26 points, and a day after he made 4-for-17 shots in Saturday's loss to Detroit, was 11-for-18 from the field with nine rebounds and nine assists.
Andre Iguodala, who led the 76ers with 19 points, missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Kings 120, SuperSonics 107
At Seattle, Kevin Martin scored 31 points, Ron Artest had 29 and Sacramento broke away in the final period.
Kevin Durant scored 25 points to lead Seattle.

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