Lakers clinch West top seed
MINNEAPOLIS — The bumps and the bruises are starting to pile up for the Los Angeles Lakers as they prepare to defend their title.
Those annoyances always seem to heal just a little bit quicker in the comforts of home, and that's exactly where Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers will be spending most of their time in the postseason.
Pau Gasol had 29 points and 15 rebounds, and the Kobe-less Lakers locked up home court throughout the Western Conference playoffs with a 97-88 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves last night.
Lamar Odom had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the reigning champs, who have the No. 1 seed in the West for the third straight season.
"Advantage goes to the people who have home court, no doubt about it," coach Phil Jackson said. "It doesn't guarantee you anything. It guarantees you an extra game."
Jackson rested Bryant (aching right index finger) for the second night in a row, clearly concerned about getting his lead dog ready for the postseason.
GRIZZLIES 107, SPURS 99
Zach Randolph had 28 points and 15 rebounds, and visiting Memphis dropped San Antonio into the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 26 points, hours after signing a three-year, $39 million extension.
THUNDER 96, SUNS 91
Kevin Durant scored 35 points and host Oklahoma City held Phoenix to its lowest scoring output in a second half this season (34 points) to end a three-game losing streak.
JAZZ 114, HORNETS 103
Deron Williams had 27 points and 16 assists, and visiting Utah held off New Orleans to remain within striking distance of the second playoff seed in the Western Conference.
MAVERICKS 83, TRAIL BLAZERS 77
Dirk Nowitzki scored 40 points, making a key 3-pointer with under three minutes left, as visiting Dallas clinched the Southwest Division with a victory over Portland.
HAWKS 107, RAPTORS 101
Jamal Crawford scored 25 points as host Atlanta reached 50 wins for the first time in 12 years and moved one game ahead of Boston for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.
PACERS 116, CAVALIERS 113
Danny Granger had 36 points to help visiting Indiana beat Cleveland, playing without starters LeBron James, Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams and Shaquille O'Neal.
WIZARDS 106, CELTICS 96
Andray Blatche had 31 points and 11 rebounds, and visiting Washington opened a 28-point first-half lead and held off a late flurry of 3-pointers from Nate Robinson to beat Boston.
PISTONS 106, HEAT 99
Ben Gordon scored 26 of his 39 points in the second half and Tayshaun Prince finished with 28 points as visiting Detroit ended Miami's nine-game winning streak.
BUCKS 95, 76ERS 90
Carlos Delfino scored 23 points and Luke Ridnour had 18 to lead host Milwaukee past Philadelphia and into fifth place in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of Miami.
MAGIC 118, KNICKS 103
Dwight Howard and Vince Carter scored 25 points apiece, and host Orlando tuned up for the playoffs by sweeping the season series with New York for its 17th win in its last 20 games.
ROCKETS 97, BOBCATS 90
Aaron Brooks scored 23 points to lead host Houston over Charlotte, which still clinched no worse than the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs despite the loss.
NETS 127, BULLS 116
Devin Harris hit a go-ahead jumper early in the second overtime and host New Jersey kept Chicago tied with Toronto for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.