Suns eliminate Lakers from playoff race, 76ers pull even in Atlantic | Loop Jamaica

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PHOENIX (AP) — Devin Booker scored 32 points and Phoenix Sun won their franchise-record 63rd game of the season, beating a Lakers team minus LeBron James 121-110 on Tuesday night to eliminate Los Angeles from the NBA playoff race.

It was a tight game during the first half but Phoenix used a 29-9 run in the third quarter to create separation. The rest of the night was essentially a celebration for the Suns, who danced and dunked their way past the forlorn Lakers.

Playing without James for a second consecutive game because of a sprained ankle, Los Angeles lost their seventh straight. Russell Westbrook scored 28 points while Anthony Davis added 21 points and 13 rebounds.

Deandre Ayton had 22 points for Phoenix (63-16), which avoided its first three-game losing streak this season.

Indiana Pacers 122 Philadelphia 76ers 131

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Joel Embiid had 45 points and 13 rebounds, and the Philadelphia 76ers made a franchise-record 17 3-pointers in the first half of a 131-122 victory over the Indiana Pacers that moved them into a tie with Boston atop the Atlantic Division.

Embiid banked in a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer and shot 18 for 30 overall while moving into the NBA scoring lead with 30.4 points per game. He had 27 points and seven rebounds in the first half, helping Philadelphia take control with a 49-point second quarter that led to an 82-59 halftime lead.

Buddy Hield scored 25 points and Tyrese Haliburton had 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Indiana, which has lost a season-worst eight in a row.

NETS 118, ROCKETS 105

NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 42 points and Brooklyn Nets beat Houston Rockets to improve their position in the race for play-in seeding.

Irving had 17 points in the fourth quarter. Kevin Durant added 18 points, Bruce Brown had 15 and Cam Thomas 13 for the Nets. Andre Drummond finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

With Cleveland, Atlanta and Charlotte all losing, the Nets climbed into a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, just 1 1/2 games behind the Cavaliers. The No. 7 seed hosts a game to open the tournament.

Kevin Porter Jr scored a season-high 36 points and Jalen Green added 30 for the Rockets.

RAPTORS 118, HAWKS 108

TORONTO (AP) — Pascal Siakam had 31 points and 13 rebounds, Scottie Barnes added 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Toronto Raptors clinched a playoff berth by beating Atlanta Hawks.

Chris Boucher scored 18 points, Gary Trent Jr. had 14, Fred VanVleet 12 and Precious Achiuwa 11. Toronto have won 12 of 16. The victory, coupled with Cleveland’s loss at Orlando, ensured the Raptors (46-33) will finish no lower than sixth in the Eastern Conference.

Sixth place is the last guaranteed postseason spot, with teams finishing in the Nos. 7-10 spots headed for the play-in tournament.

Trae Young had 26 points and 15 assists for the Hawks, who lost for the first time in six games and locked themselves into a play-in berth. Atlanta (41-38) and Brooklyn are 1 1/2 games behind seventh-place Cleveland.

JAZZ 121, GRIZZLIES 115, OT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 21 rebounds, and Utah Jazz clinched a playoff berth by beating Memphis Grizzlies in overtime.

Jordan Clarkson also finished with 22 points for the Jazz. Donovan Mitchell added 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Hassan Whiteside had 14 points and 10 boards off the bench.

Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 28 for the Grizzlies. Tyus Jones added 24 points and Desmond Bane had 23 points, seven rebounds and four steals.

Memphis played without their top two scorers. Ja Morant (right knee soreness) and Dillon Brooks (right hip soreness) were both inactive.

BUCKS 127, BULLS 106

CHICAGO (AP) — Brook Lopez scored a season-high 28 points and Milwaukee Bucks overcame a rather quiet performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo to clinch their fourth straight Central Division championship with a victory over Chicago Bulls.

The defending NBA champion Bucks haven’t been on a run like this since Don Nelson’s teams won seven consecutive division titles in the 1980s.

They took control early and completed a four-game season sweep of Chicago even though DeMar DeRozan scored 40 for the Bulls.

Antetokounmpo, trying to overtake LeBron James and Joel Embiid in a tight race for his first scoring title, finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. But the two-time MVP started slow and spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench after picking up his fifth foul.

Lopez had his best performance after missing most of the season because of a back injury. Khris Middleton scored 19.

PELICANS 123, KINGS 109

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — CJ McCollum and Jaxson Hayes each scored 23 points and New Orleans Pelicans secured a spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament by beating Sacramento Kings.

Brandon Ingram added 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Pelicans (35-44), who never trailed. New Orleans have won four of five.

Damian Jones had 22 points for the Kings, eliminated from playoff contention Sunday for an NBA-record 16th consecutive season.

HEAT 144, HORNETS 115

MIAMI (AP) — Tyler Herro scored 35 points off the bench and Miami moved closer to clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a victory over Charlotte.

Miami won their fifth straight and posted the second-highest point total in franchise history, while the Hornets allowed 144 for the second consecutive game after a 144-112 loss Saturday at Philadelphia.

Jimmy Butler added 27 points, Bam Adebayo had 22 and Duncan Robinson broke out of a recent scoring slump with 21 points for the Heat, who need to win one of their two remaining games to secure the top spot in the East. Robinson shot 7 of 11 on 3-pointers after averaging 5.7 points in his previous six games, including two scoreless outings.

Miami finished 23 of 42 from 3-point range. Herro was 8 of 14 from behind the arc and tied Dwyane Wade’s single-game record for points by a Heat reserve.

Miles Bridges scored 29 points and LaMelo Ball finished with 18 points and 14 assists for Charlotte, which dropped to 10th in the East but have clinched a berth in the play-in tournament.

SPURS 116, NUGGETS 97

DENVER (AP) — Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson each scored 20 points to help San Antonio Spurs move closer to securing a spot in the play-in tournament by defeating Denver Nuggets.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic had 41 points and 17 rebounds for the Nuggets, who had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win after Minnesota lost to Washington.

The Spurs had six players score in double figures as they won a regular-season game in Denver for the first time since Jan. 5, 2017. But it wasn’t easy even after San Antonio built a lead that stretched to 21 late in the second quarter.

The Nuggets cut it to four early in the fourth, only to see the Spurs go on a 14-2 surge to regain momentum.

MAGIC 120, CAVALIERS 115

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Mo Bamba had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Ignas Brazdeikis scored 20 off the bench and Orlando Magic beat Cleveland Cavaliers to stop a six-game losing streak.

Moritz Wagner scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter for the Magic.

Darius Garland had 27 points and 10 assists, and Lauri Markkanen added 25 points for the injury-riddled Cavaliers, who have dropped eight of 10 and are locked into the play-in tournament. Cleveland are trying to hold onto seventh place in the Eastern Conference with two regular-season games remaining.

Markelle Fultz finished with 16 points and six assists for Orlando in his first start of the season after returning from a knee injury.

WIZARDS 132, TIMBERWOLVES 114

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kristaps Porzingis scored 25 points, including 12 in the third quarter as Washington Wizards took control against Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rui Hachimura tied a season high with 21 points and Daniel Gafford had 24 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for Washington. The Wizards were coming off a 144-102 loss at Boston to open their three-game road trip but have won five of seven.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, while D’Angelo Russell finished with 17 points and 11 assists. The Timberwolves are seventh in the Western Conference, almost out of time to climb above the cut and avoid the play-in tournament with two regular-season games remaining.

THUNDER 98, TRAIL BLAZERS 94

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Jaylen Hoard had career highs of 24 points and 21 rebounds to help Oklahoma City Thunder top Portland Trail Blazers.

Isaiah Roby had 18 points and a career-high six steals, Georgios Kalaitzakis scored 17 points and Olivier Sarr had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Thunder. Oklahoma City improved to 4-0 against the Trail Blazers this season.

Keon Johnson scored 18 points and Greg Brown III and Ben McLemore each had 17 for Portland, which lost their eighth straight.

The Trail Blazers led 82-67 heading into the fourth quarter, but Oklahoma City held Portland to 12 points on 5-for-19 shooting in the final 12 minutes.