Archive for the ‘ Games ’ Category

Chandler Parsons

The Houston Rockets finally found a way to close out a game in their playoff series with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

And it allowed them to escape playoff elimination with a 105-103 win over the Thunder on Monday night.

Chandler Parsons scored 27 points and Patrick Beverley added 16 points with point guard Jeremy Lin out with a bruised chest muscle. Houston avoided a four-game sweep in the best-of-seven series.

The Rockets led in the fourth quarter of each of the last two games only to end up losing.

”We felt the pain and frustration from the last two losses … and we didn’t want that to happen for the third straight time,” Parsons said.

It almost did.

Kevin Durant scored five quick points to cut the Rockets’ lead to two. James Harden missed two shots for Houston after that and the Thunder had a last chance.

Reggie Jackson missed a jump shot and Serge Ibaka grabbed the rebound, but missed a layup at the buzzer…

Durant scored 38 points in Oklahoma City’s second game without injured All-Star guard Russell Westbrook…

Harden scored 15 points, but also had 10 turnovers. He had two chances to extend Houston’s lead with less than a minute left, but missed both of them, including shooting an air ball…

Jackson finished with 18 points in his second start in place of Westbrook, and Kevin Martin added 16.

Houston got 17 points from Omer Asik and 13 from Carlos Delfino.

– Reported by Kristie Rieken of the Associated Press

Josh Smith

Josh Smith scored 29 points as the Atlanta Hawks built a 17-point lead at halftime, then withstood an Indiana comeback over the final two quarters to even the series with a 102-91 victory in Game 4 on Monday night.

After struggling much of the second half, Smith made every big play down the stretch. He swished a rare 3-pointer, came up with an offensive rebound to set up a 3 by Kyle Korver, then finished off a fast break with a right-handed dunk.

Paul George scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half as the Pacers made a game of it but couldn’t come back from a 57-40 deficit at the break.

Tied at two wins apiece, the series returns to Indianapolis for Game 5 on Wednesday night.

Korver added 19 points off the bench, most of them coming on his specialty: the 3-pointer. He knocked down five from outside the arc, including the biggest one with 2:33 remaining after Al Horford threw up a wild shot that missed. Smith snatched one of his 11 rebounds and spotted Korver lurking all alone on the outside.

Horford chipped in with 18 points.

Indiana was better offensively but still struggled to make shots, finishing at 38 percent on a 32-of-84 performance. George came alive after halftime, connecting three times from beyond the stripe, while every other starter was in double figures.

It wasn’t enough.

– Reported by Paul Newberry of the Associated Press

Nets win 110-91, cut Bulls lead to 3-2

Brook Lopez

Flourishing instead of fading in the fourth quarter, the Brooklyn Nets extended their first season in Brooklyn.

They need one more victory to set up the biggest game here yet.

Brook Lopez had 28 points and 10 rebounds, Deron Williams added 23 points and 10 assists, and the Nets beat Chicago 110-91 on Monday night, cutting the Bulls’ lead to 3-2 in their first-round playoff series.

Recovering from a collapse two days earlier that sent them home on the brink of elimination instead of tied, the Nets battered the Bulls on the boards and forced Chicago into being the team that wilted down the stretch.

”We came out very aggressive, as we have the past few games. I think the difference was just we sustained it for essentially a full 48 minutes tonight,” Lopez said.

Andray Blatche scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter and Gerald Wallace had consecutive baskets in the finishing surge as the Nets finally pulled away in a game they led most of the way, but never by too much.

Two days after rallying for a 142-134 triple-overtime victory, the Bulls were outscored 15-1 at the finish and failed to set up a second-round series with Miami. Instead they will host Game 6 on Thursday…

Nate Robinson had 20 points and eight assists starting in place of point guard Kirk Hinrich, who bruised his left calf in Saturday’s game…

Butler scored 18 points for the Bulls, who were outrebounded 44-33 and gave up 24 second-chance points…

Wallace scored 12 points and Reggie Evans grabbed 12 rebounds as the Nets improved to 6-0 all-time in Game 5s at home. They have never lost a series when holding home-court advantage.

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

zach randolph

Zach Randolph’s fast start helped the Memphis Grizzlies return to their inside dominance.

Randolph had 13 of his 27 points in the first quarter, and he finished with 11 rebounds and the Grizzlies beat the Los Angeles Clippers 94-82 on Thursday night to pull within 2-1 in this first-round series.

”Zach was huge,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. ”He got started quickly. He had 18 at halftime, and that got us going and everyone else just flowed into that. I thought our defense, for the most part, was solid.”

Randolph hadn’t scored more than 13 in each of the first two games and had only 12 rebounds combined in Los Angeles. He looked much more like the All Star who had 45 double-doubles this season, and he also had six offensive rebounds after leading the NBA with 310 in the regular season…

Marc Gasol accepted his trophy as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year before tipoff, then scored 16 points. Quincy Pondexter and Tony Allen had 13 each. Mike Conley was 1 of 9 but had 10 assists and no turnovers on a night where he was so sick he sipped on soda and didn’t talk much…

Blake Griffin scored 16 points for the Clippers. Matt Barnes had 12, Chauncey Billups 11 and Jamal Crawford and Caron Butler 10. Chris Paul had eight points on 4-of-11 shooting and added six assists…

Memphis outrebounded the Clippers 45-33, including 17-5 on the offensive boards. That gave the Grizzlies a 22-4 edge in second-chance points, which was similar to what the Clippers did to Memphis in Game 1 when they held a 25-5 advantage. The Grizzlies also outscored Los Angeles 40-26 in the paint and led by as much as 16.

– Reported by Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press

carlos boozer

Every play near the basket looked like a traffic accident. There were long scoreless stretches. Shooting from outside was a dicey proposition.

It was ugly for everyone but the Chicago Bulls. This was their type of game.

Carlos Boozer had 22 points and 16 rebounds, Luol Deng added 21 points and 10 boards, and the Bulls held off the Brooklyn Nets 79-76 in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Thursday night.

”We did what we had to do to win the game,” Boozer said. ”In the playoffs you have to win different ways. Nothing is perfect.”

Chicago had no field goals and two foul shots over the final 5:46 of its second straight win in the series. It will try for a 3-1 lead when the banged-up teams return to the court Saturday afternoon in a quick turnaround.

Brooklyn shot 35 percent for the second straight game. Brook Lopez had 22 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots, and Deron Williams finished with 18 points on 5-for-14 shooting…

Joe Johnson got a cortisone shot for his ailing left foot and finished 15 points for Brooklyn, while Noah’s foul shot was his only point of the game while dealing with his own painful right foot injury. Noah also had eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks…

Brooklyn went 5 for 21 from 3-point range and is 15 for 56 from beyond the arc for the series.

– Reported by Jay Cohen of the Associated Press

ray allen

Every game, someone different steps up for the Miami Heat.

Well, someone different and that guy named LeBron.

Ageless Ray Allen scored 23, setting the NBA career playoff record for 3-pointers in the process, and LeBron James had seven of his 22 points during a decisive run that closed out the third quarter - and maybe the Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat’s 104-91 victory Thursday night gave the defending champions a 3-0 lead, with a chanceto complete the sweep Sunday afternoon at the Bradley Center.

”That’s been our calling card all year, the depth that we have,” said Allen, whose five 3s gave him 322 for his career, two more than Reggie Miller. ”

”As a team, you’ve got to find way to plug in the holes, and every night we find somebody different.”

Chris Bosh added 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Heat, who have won 11 straight dating to the regular season and 40 of their last 42. Chris Andersen had another big game, scoring 11 on 5-of-5 shooting and grabbing six rebounds in less than 14 minutes…

Dwyane Wade had just four points, and his 1-of-12 shooting was his worst in a postseason game. But he contributed 11 assists, nine rebounds, five steals and two blocks.

‘Larry Sanders and Brandon Jennings had 16 each to lead six Bucks in double figures, and Sanders added 11 rebounds while Jennings contributed eight assists. But the Bucks couldn’t maintain the 10-point lead they took in the first quarter, when they shot 57 percent (12 of 21) and were 5 of 10 from 3-point range. Milwaukee was just 12 of 21 over the final three quarters (41 percent), and made only two more 3s.

– Reported by Nancy Armour of the Associated Press

tony parker

The San Antonio Spurs kept insisting the playoffs were a new season and that their woeful finish to the regular season was not as grave as it appeared.

After 16 straight postseason appearances, San Antonio should know what it’s talking about.

Tony Parker had 28 points and seven assists and the Spurs beat the Los Angeles Lakers 102-91 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference first-round playoff series.

Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard had 16 points each, Manu Ginobili added 13 points and Matt Bonner had 10 for San Antonio, which had lost three straight entering the series.

”I thought we played two pretty good games on the defensive end of the court back-to-back,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ”That was our goal at the beginning of the season and we did it for most of the year, as I said, until maybe the last three weeks of the season it dissipated. We got it back for these two games.”

Dwight Howard and Steve Blake had 16 points each to lead Los Angeles. Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol added 13 points each, but no other player had more than nine as the Lakers shot 45 percent from the field…

The Spurs shot 51 percent from the field after shooting 38 percent in Game 1. San Antonio was 7 for 14 on 3-pointers, including 5 for 7 in the first half.

Parker had 15 points in the third quarter after going 1 for 6 in the first half. He scored 12 straight points on a series of layups and floating jumpers against Blake. Parker’s run gave the Spurs a 75-65 lead with 3 minutes left in the third…

Howard had heated battles with Bonner and Duncan in the first half. After getting tied up midway through the second quarter, Duncan and Howard walked down the court glaring at each other with Howard jawing at Duncan.

– Reported by the Associated Press

paul george

Indiana had everything covered Wednesday night.

When Atlanta tried to get tough, the Pacers buckled down and got even tougher. When the Hawks tried to run, the Pacers simply slowed them down. And when the Hawks tried to rally, well, the Pacers punched back with Paul George, George Hill or any other open shooter.

The result was the same.

George scored 27 points, his second straight playoff career high, Hill finished with 22 and the Pacers pulled away from the reeling Hawks 113-98 to take their first 2-0 lead in a playoff series since the 2004 Eastern Conference semifinals.

”We naturally just play physical,” George said. ”It wasn’t like ‘Hey, let’s play physical, let’s retaliate.’ That’s just how we play. That’s how we approach the game. We just have to keep playing how we play.”

Indiana made it look easy…

Three days after George posted the second triple-double in the franchise’s NBA postseason history, he put on another brilliant show. The league’s Most Improved Player rebounded from a 3-for-13 shooting effort to go 11 of 21. He finished with eight rebounds, three assists, four steals and turned in another sterling defensive performance as the Pacers won their fourth straight at home over Atlanta…

Roy Hibbert wound up with 15 points and nine rebounds, and Gerald Green came off the bench, made his first three 3s and finished with 15 points. Indiana, which relied primarily on defense to win its first Central Division crown in nine years, has topped the 100-point mark in consecutive playoff games. And the 113 points was the highest postseason total for the Pacers since a 120-87 rout over the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals…

Atlanta’s top scorer, Josh Smith, played with a sprained right ankle but wound up on the bench with two fouls barely 2 minutes into the game. He spent the rest of the game in foul trouble and finished with 16 points and six rebounds…

Harris led the Hawks with 17 points and Jeff Teague added 16.

– Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook relishes the moments when an opponent challenges him and his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates and it becomes time to respond.

Rookie Patrick Beverley showed a willingness to go toe-to-toe with the Thunder’s All-Star point guard, and the Houston Rockets didn’t back down despite a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Then it was up to Westbrook and the Thunder to come up with an answer.

Westbrook and Kevin Durant each scored 29 points, and Oklahoma City recovered after squandering its big lead to beat Houston 105-102 on Wednesday night and take a 2-0 series lead.

”It’s fun. During this time of the year, as a team we’ve got one goal and we can’t let nobody get in the way,” Westbrook said. ”That’s how I feel and that’s how I want my team to respond as well.”

Durant hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:28 to play after the Rockets had turned a 15-point deficit into a four-point lead, and the Thunder didn’t relinquish the lead. Durant missed a free throw with 1 second left, but Houston was out of timeouts and Carlos Delfino couldn’t connect on a desperation shot at the final buzzer.

”It’s frustrating and it hurts really bad right now,” said Chandler Parsons, who scored 17 points for Houston. ”But you’ve got to take some positives out of it. It’s a long series.” …

Harden ended up with 36 points and 11 rebounds, and Beverley had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Houston. The Rockets made up for a 40 percent shooting mark with a 57-40 advantage on the boards and a 50-30 scoring edge in the paint, engineering a massive turnaround after getting blown out 120-91 in Game 1…

After finishing second to Tyson Chandler last year’s voting for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Ibaka was third this year behind Marc Gasol and LeBron James. Ibaka has led the NBA in total blocks the past three seasons.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

Stephen Curry helps Warriors tie series with Nuggets

The Golden State Warriors hardly missed much of anything Tuesday night.

Not their shots.

Not their injured All-Star.

Stephen Curry had 30 points and 13 assists and the scrappy Warriors handed the Denver Nuggets their first loss at home in more than three months, a 131-117 stunner that evened their playoff series at a game each.

Rallying around injured David Lee, who cheered on the bench in street clothes, the Warriors got 26 points from surprise starter Jarrett Jack, a career-high 24 from rookie Harrison Barnes in his debut at power forward and 21 from Klay Thompson.

The sixth-seeded Warriors, who became the second road team to win in the postseason following Chicago’s victory at Brooklyn on Monday, wrested homecourt advantage from the NBA’s best home team in the series that shifts to Oakland for Game 3 on Friday night.

”They were knocking down shots,” Denver’s Andre Iguodala said in an understatement.

Better than they ever had before in a playoff game, a franchise playoff-record 64.6 percent from the field (51 of 79)…

Ty Lawson and Corey Brewer each scored 19 points for Denver and Iguodala and Miller both had 18, but the Nuggets were playing catch-up from the middle of the second quarter and couldn’t keep up with so many of the Warriors’ shots falling, negating Denver’s league-best transition game…

– Reported by Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press

Melo helps Knicks take 2-0 lead vs Celtics

The New York Knicks are heading to Boston, then perhaps finally back to the second round.

The once-mighty Celtics don’t seem capable of stopping them.

Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points, Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith added 19, and New York opened a 2-0 lead over Boston with another dominant second half in an 87-71 victory on Tuesday night.

Raymond Felton added 16 points for the Knicks, who used a 27-4 run spanning halftime to blow it open and move halfway to their first series victory since the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals. This is their first 2-0 lead since sweeping Toronto in the first round that year.

”For us, we know what type of team we are,” Anthony said. ”We know when we really buckle down on the defensive end, it’s been hard for teams.”

It’s been brutally difficult for Boston.

Paul Pierce scored 18 points for the Celtics, who will host Game 3 on Friday in their first home game since the Boston Marathon bombings.

They will have to be much sharper to avoid their first opening-round elimination since 2005, before they became one of the NBA’s power teams again.

”We have to figure out the offensive side of the ball and not be so stagnated,” Boston’s Kevin Garnett said. ”Figure out ways to score more often.”

Garnett had 12 points and 11 rebounds, but battled foul trouble and spent too much time walking back to the bench with a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd finally experiencing playoff success again hounding him every step of the way.

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Dwyane Wade

Everyone in the Miami huddle was bracing for a grind to the finish. On the other end, the sense around the Milwaukee bench was that an upset was there for the taking.

Then the Heat landed a swift knockout punch.

Dwyane Wade scored 21 points, LeBron James finished with 19 and the Heat used a frantic start to the fourth quarter to pull away and beat the Bucks 98-86 in Game 2 of the teams’ Eastern Conference first-round series on Tuesday night.

It was 68-65 entering the fourth. With James and four backups on the court, the Heat needed only 2 minutes, 22 seconds to outscore Milwaukee 12-0 and stretch the lead to 80-65 - ensuring the reigning NBA champions would take a 2-0 series lead into Game 3 on Thursday night.

”We held court,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”We protected it for two games. We did what we’re supposed to do. And that’s it.”

Chris Bosh, Shane Battier and Chris Andersen all scored 10 points for the Heat. James’ postseason streaks of 22 straight games with at least 20 points, and 16 straight games of at least 25 points, both came to an end.

Ultimately, none of that mattered.

”We didn’t get into our game like we wanted to in that third quarter,” James said. ”But we went into the fourth with a (three-point) lead and we were able to jump on them.”

Ersan Ilyasova scored 21 points for Milwaukee, which got 16 from Mike Dunleavy and 14 from Larry Sanders. The Bucks’ starting guards, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, combined for only 15 points - after teaming up to score 48 in Game 1.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

Thunder blast Rockets 120-91 in Game 1

kevin durant

As awkward as he felt going up against his former teammate, Kevin Durant didn’t have a problem quite literally standing in James Harden’s way in the NBA playoffs.

Durant scored 24 points and drew a rare offensive charging foul, and the Oklahoma City Thunder routed Harden and the Houston Rockets 120-91 on Sunday night in Game 1 of their playoff series.

Durant, who’s known more for his three NBA scoring titles than for stepping in the way of oncoming opponents, got in Harden’s way on a transition drive in the third quarter in a standout defensive effort for the Thunder against the league’s second highest-scoring offense…

After letting Houston wipe away an 11-point deficit in the first half, the Thunder regained control with a 14-1 surge just before halftime and kept pouring it on.

Just after a fan nailed a half-court shot to win $20,000 in the break after the third quarter, Durant drove for a two-handed slam while getting fouled and Oklahoma City was soon up by 30.

Harden, playing against the team that traded him away just before the season started, had 20 points but the Rockets were held 15 points below their regular-season scoring average while shooting 36 percent. Houston, which set a franchise record for 3-pointers during the regular season, finished 8 for 36 (22 percent) from behind the arc…

The Thunder were already up by 23 when Larry Hill connected on the half-court shot and went bounding toward Oklahoma City’s huddle in celebration, getting congratulated by Thabo Sefolosha before the team’s bison mascot pulled him back away…

Russell Westbrook ended up with 19 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Serge Ibaka chipped in 17 points and Kevin Martin, Harden’s replacement in the sixth man role, had nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter with the game already in hand…

The game ball got switched out in the second quarter after it went into the stands and a drink was spilled on it.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

lebron james

LeBron James has never taken fewer shots in a playoff game than he did on Sunday night, which at first glance might seem like a good thing for the Milwaukee Bucks.

It was not.

James scored 27 points on 9 for 11 shooting - finishing two assists shy of a triple-double - while Ray Allen scored 20 off the bench and the defending champion Heat picked up where they left off in the NBA playoffs a year ago, never trailing on the way to beating the Bucks 110-87 in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series.

”All I care about is the win,” James said. ”I didn’t even know my stats. I just knew that we were playing efficient offensively besides the turnovers. We want to try to keep that going.”

Dwyane Wade scored 16, Chris Bosh added 15 and Chris Andersen finished with 10 on 4 for 4 shooting for the Heat, who opened their title defense by holding Milwaukee to 42 percent shooting and outrebounding the Bucks 46-31.

Brandon Jennings scored 26 points and Monta Ellis added 22 for the Bucks, who have not won the opening game of a playoff series since May 2001…

Milwaukee came into the series with Jennings predicting his team would oust the reigning champions in six games.

They’ll have to win four of five now for that to happen.

And with James playing like this, the odds would seem particularly slim. He had 10 rebounds and eight assists - both game-highs. His assist total was only six shy of what the Bucks managed, combined…

Miami outrebounded Milwaukee 22-9 after halftime.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

Spurs handle Lakers 91-79, take Game 1

manu ginobili

Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker scored 18 points each as the San Antonio Spurs led from early in the first quarter and beat the Los Angeles Lakers 91-79 on Sunday in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series.

Tim Duncan added 17 points and 10 rebounds, Matt Bonner had 10 points and Kawhi Leonard had eight points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio.

Dwight Howard had 20 points and 15 rebounds, Steve Nash scored 16 points and Pau Gasol added 16 points and 16 rebounds for Los Angeles.

Despite the double-doubles from Howard and Gasol, the Lakers failed to take full advantage of their inside presence, much to the consternation of the injured Kobe Bryant, who watched the national broadcast.

”Post. Post. Post,” Bryant tweeted in reference to the Lakers’ offense.

Bryant is out for the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles.

Los Angeles’ length caused San Antonio problems early as the Spurs missed their first three shots - all inside the paint - as they altered their shots to avoid Howard and Gasol…

Manu Ginobili hit a pair of 3s to give San Antonio a 70-57 lead to close the third. Ginobili was 6 for 13 from the field and 3 for 5 on 3s.

– Reported by Raul Dominguez of the Associated Press

Paul George shines in Pacers Game 1 win over Hawks

Paul George offered to do anything it took to win in the playoffs.

He lived up to his word.

The All-Star forward scored a career playoff high 23 points Sunday, finished with 11 rebounds and 12 assists, played good defense and, yes, led the rejuvenated Pacers to a 107-90 victory over Atlanta and their first 1-0 lead in the playoffs since 2006.

”I just tell myself, ‘keep attacking,”’ George said. ”The last week I’ve just really have been trying to take care of my body, getting massages, cold tub, eating healthy.”

George, who had been trying to recover from an abdominal strain, and his teammates certainly had time to get healthy after coach Frank Vogel gave four of the starters three days off following last Sunday’s loss at New York. None of the four - George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and David West - logged a minute in Wednesday’s regular-season finale, either…

Despite going 3 of 13 from the field, the All-Star forward made his first 17 free throws - tying Reggie Miller’s single-game playoff record for best percentage. George then missed his 18th and final free throw with 2:35 to play, falling just short of Miller’s mark…

Hill, who sat out parts of practice Friday and Saturday with an injured left groin, made his first six shots and finished 7 of 10 from the field with three 3-pointers and 18 points. Hibbert still got 16 points and 11 rebounds, and backup Jeff Pendergraph scored 11 points, too…

The Pacers outrebounded Atlanta 48-32, limited the Hawks to 14 fast-break points and 90 overall. It was their best defensive performance in two weeks…

Indy native Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 21 points and seven assists, while Josh Smith had 15 points and eight rebounds. The only other Atlanta player to reach double figures was Al Horford with 14 points.

– Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

Lakers without Kobe beat Spurs 91-86

Dwight Howard

An empty chair sat in front of Kobe Bryant’s locker Sunday night, and the Los Angeles Lakers realized they would have to fill it together.

With their playoff hopes likely on the line against powerful San Antonio, the Lakers cobbled together a group effort that kept them in the hunt.

Dwight Howard had 26 points and 17 rebounds, and the Lakers staged a dramatic rally in the fourth quarter to win their first game since losing Bryant for the season, beating the Spurs 91-86 Sunday night to stay in playoff position.

Steve Blake scored 23 points for the Lakers (44-37), who lead Utah (42-38) by 1 1/2 games for the eighth postseason spot in the Western Conference after their seventh win in eight games - even with Bryant watching from home following surgery on his torn Achilles tendon…

”It definitely gives us confidence that if we play as hard as we did tonight, we can beat anybody,” said Pau Gasol, who had seven points and 16 rebounds…

Duncan had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs, who have lost six straight road games. San Antonio (58-22) is likely to finish second in the West behind Oklahoma City (59-21), which holds the tiebreaker.

Tony Parker scored just four points on 1-of-10 shooting while playing for just the fourth time in April, possibly slowed by his injured shin in the Spurs’ first game since waiving disenchanted forward Stephen Jackson. San Antonio is headed into another postseason as a top-two seed, but the Spurs have lost five of eight after failing to complete a season sweep of the Lakers.

– Reported by Greg Beacham of the Associated Press

Kenneth Faried

The Denver Nuggets are getting good at bittersweet moments.

Andre Iguodala scored 28 points and the Nuggets set an NBA franchise record with their 55th win Sunday, beating the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers 118-109 but losing another starter.

On the day Ty Lawson (right heel) returned to Denver’s starting lineup for the first time since March 27 and played an encouraging 31 minutes, forward Kenneth Faried sprained his left ankle in the opening minutes while driving for a layup and didn’t return.

”We’re dropping like flies, man,” Lawson said. ”Well, it’s not too serious, I heard, so he might be out for a week or so. He’s a tough guy.”

Although X-rays were negative, coach George Karl stressed that he didn’t want to guess about Faried’s availability for the playoffs that start next weekend until after his top rebounder goes for an MRI on Monday…

Iguodala also grabbed seven rebounds, dished out nine assists, blocked three shots and had three steals to go with his 28 points, marking the first time in his career he’d posted those numbers in a game.

And rookie Evan Fournier scored 24 points in his second career start, sinking a pair of crucial 3-pointers in the closing minutes after the Trail Blazers had cut a 20-point deficit to 104-101 with 3:33 left.

– Reported by Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press

Knicks clinch No. 2 seed in East with win over Pacers

Carmelo Anthony and his sore left shoulder will probably get the night off Monday.

The New York Knicks have earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, and with it the chance the rest some aching bodies.

Anthony scored 25 points on 9-for-23 shooting against the rugged Indiana defense, and the Knicks wrapped up the second spot with a 90-80 victory over the Pacers on Sunday.

The Knicks are back on the court Monday at Charlotte, but Anthony doesn’t think he’ll be joining them with nothing left to play for in the regular season.

”I always said today was a real important game for us to come in and lock down (the No. 2 seed),” Anthony said. ”It was a big game for us so now guys can get their rest, I can get my rest and come back full speed ready for the playoffs.”

Chris Copeland added 20 points and J.R. Smith had 15 for the Knicks, who will host seventh-seeded Boston next weekend. New York is guaranteed the home-court advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs after finishing a distant second to Miami in the conference…

Lance Stephenson scored 22 points and David West had 17 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, who came into the game with a chance to catch the Knicks for second but had to settle for wrapping up No. 3 after Brooklyn lost 93-87 at Toronto…

The Pacers committed 26 turnovers that led to 33 points and shot 61.5 percent at the free throw line, losing for the fourth time in five games with a sloppy offensive performance. Coach Frank Vogel will rest some of his players, too, noting George’s 1-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

demar derozan

Deron Williams crumpled up his stat sheet and threw it away in disgust. A loss to the lottery-bound Toronto Raptors meant his Brooklyn Nets had lost their chance at earning the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

DeMar DeRozan scored 36 points, Rudy Gay had 26 points and 10 rebounds and the Raptors won their third straight game, never trailing in a 93-87 victory over the Nets on Sunday.

Brooklyn is still going to the playoffs, but could have closed to within one game of Indiana after the Pacers lost 90-80 to the New York Knicks…

Brooklyn can still tie Indiana, but the Pacers would win the tiebreaker because they’re guaranteed to win the Central Division. Brooklyn is assured of second place in the Atlantic…

Amir Johnson had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Raptors, who hadn’t won three straight since a five-game winning streak from Feb. 8 to 19…

Williams scored 30 points, Brook Lopez had 16 and Andray Blatche 15 for the Nets, whose four-game winning streak was snapped…

Former Raptor Reggie Evans had 16 rebounds for the Nets but didn’t take a single shot. … Keith Bogans started for Brooklyn in place of F Gerald Wallace, who missed his second straight game with a sore left heel.

– Reported by Ian Harrison of the Associated Press

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