Thornton's late jumper lifts Kings over Blazers AP
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Marcus Thornton scored 20 points and made the winning jumper with 3.4 seconds left, lifting the Sacramento Kings to a 104-103 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night....
Clippers Close to Clinching Playoff Spot: Fan Reaction Yahoo! Contributor Network
The Los Angeles Clippers are getting close to unfamiliar territory. They are about to clinch a playoff spot and head to the postseason for the first time in the Blake Griffin era. Granted, that era is still fairly new, but when Griffin was drafted there was a lot of optimism about the future of this historically inept franchise. Now, the Clippers are on the brink of fighting for their first championship....
The Chicago Bulls are getting closer to locking up their second straight No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and it appears Derrick Rose will be around for the stretch run after fighting off injuries....
DENVER (AP) Arron Afflalo scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half, leading the Denver Nuggets to a 101-86 win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night in the opener of a crucial home-and-home set between playoff hopefuls....
Are the Lakers Better Off Without Kobe Bryant?: Fan Reaction Yahoo! Contributor Network
The Los Angeles Lakers are winning big basketball games, and Kobe Bryant continues to sit on the bench. No one is going to suggest that #24 is no longer needed by the Lakers, but it is intriguing to watch this team play without their longtime star. More players are getting involved, the defense is solid, and the team is playing with confidence. At some point Kobe will return, but is it possible that the Lakers might actually be a better team at this point without him?...
LOS ANGELES (AP) Andrew Bynum had 23 points and 16 rebounds, Pau Gasol made back-to-back 3-pointers in overtime, and the Los Angeles Lakers won their fourth straight game without Kobe Bryant, 112-108 over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday....
Magic defeat Cavs, clinch playoff spot with win
CLEVELAND (AP) The Orlando Magic realize they have a long road ahead of them, but they chose to enjoy a moment of celebration Sunday night.
Orlando clinched a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 100-84 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, a win that allowed coach Stan Van Gundy and his players to briefly forget about their team's growing injury list, which seems to expand by the day.
"A lot of these guys have been in the playoffs every year and you can take it for granted, but it's nice to have it done with six games left," Van Gundy said. "This was a really, really, really good win for us. Tonight was very satisfying."
ATLANTA (AP) Long out of the playoff race, the Toronto Raptors are now playing the role of spoilers.
DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points and the injury-riddled Raptors beat the Atlanta Hawks 102-86 on Sunday night for their second straight win over a playoff-bound team.
Toronto coach Dwane Casey couldn't explain when asked how his team was managing to win now with three players on 10-day contracts while stars Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless are on the injury list.
"Believe me, if I knew I'd bottle it and we would've been doi...
Rose hits tying 3, Bulls beat Pistons 100-94 in OT
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Derrick Rose brought the ball up the court, his team down by three.
With no timeouts remaining, Chicago wouldn't have a chance to stop and set up a play, but the Bulls' battered point guard didn't need any time to plan his next move. Rose dribbled around a high screen and pulled up just to the right of the top of the arc, where he sank a tying 3-pointer with 6.4 seconds left.
"Freelancing," Rose said. "Pick-and-roll, see what we could get in transition, they backed up and I shot the ball."
Chicago went on to beat Detroit for the 15th straight time, 100-94 in overtime Sunday night. Rose finished with 24 points despite a bad right ankle, and by the end of the night he was wearing a small bandage at the top of the bridge of his nose followin...
The Indiana Pacers are inching closer to securing home-court advantage for the opening round of the playoffs. A visit from the Minnesota Timberwolves could help them take another step toward to that goal....
Kobe-less Lakers hold off Mavs in overtime 112-108
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) Sure, Pau Gasol and the Los Angeles Lakers are well aware a regular-season sweep means nothing compared to a playoff sweep.
The Lakers are still pleased they're controlling this rivalry with the Dallas Mavericks heading to another postseason in which they just might meet again - and they even did it without Kobe Bryant.
Andrew Bynum had 23 points and 16 rebounds, Gasol made back-to-back 3-pointers in overtime, and the Lakers won their fourth straight game without the NBA's leading scorer, 112-108 over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
NEW YORK (AP) The Miami Heat finally came to Madison Square Garden, a sea of orange surrounding them in what looked like a playoff game.
Maybe that's all it took to bring out their best on the road.
LeBron James had 29 points and 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade added 28 points and nine boards, and the Heat overcame Carmelo Anthony's 42 points to beat the New York Knicks 93-85 on Sunday to clinch the Southeast Division title.
Originally scheduled to be here in November, the Heat's lone regular-season game in New York came with the compressed regular season coming...
LeBron James scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Dwyane Wade added 28 points to power the Miami Heat over the New York Knicks 93-85 on Sunday in a possible first-round NBA playoff preview....
(AP) -- The Denver Nuggets failed to improve their playoff chances in their last game, but returning home should give them plenty of confidence.
The Houston Rockets might be glad to hit the road after their recent failures.
Denver and Houston begin a crucial home-and-home set Sunday night, when the winner will take over sole possession of seventh place in the Western Conference.
Coming off home wins over Golden State and Minnesota, the Nuggets (32-27) dropped their third in a row on the road Friday, 103-97 to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Denver is still very much in position to make a ninth consecutive playoff appearance, but the team closes with six of seven against teams that have either clinched a playoff spot or have a legitimate chance to do so.
"We need to use these last seven games to build some momentum," said
(AP) -- Thanks in part to a highly favorable schedule, a playoff berth seems all but certain for the Memphis Grizzlies.
A pair of meetings with the last-place New Orleans Hornets may take them further towards the postseason.
The Grizzlies continue a long stretch of games against non-playoff teams Sunday night when they visit the Hornets.
Memphis (35-24) has won 10 of 13 and is fifth in the Western Conference, 1 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Los Angeles Clippers and 4 1/2 clear of Phoenix in ninth place with seven to play - six against teams not currently in playoff position.
The Grizzlies began a stretch of seven in a row against teams outside of playoff spots by beating Utah 103-98 at home Saturday.
The next six games include two versus the conference-worst Hornets (17-42) and one each against Minnesota, Charlotte, Portland and Cleveland. ...
(AP) -- Without injured star Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic might have a tough time extending their recent stretch of success against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Minus their All-Star center for a fourth straight game, the visiting Magic look for a ninth consecutive win over the Cavaliers on Sunday night.
Orlando officials announced Saturday that Howard will again sit out because of a herniated disc. He was examined this weekend by a doctor in Los Angeles, leaving no timetable for his return.
Howard, who missed only two games because of injury in his previous seven seasons, has sat five of the last seven. The Magic (34-25) have dropped four of the five without their superstar, including the last two to Washington and Atlanta by a combined 36 points.
The Magic have lost seven of nine overall to drop to sixth in the E...
(AP) -- The Atlanta Hawks still have their sights set on home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They could get it if their bench keeps contributing the way it has recently.
Atlanta has won four of five and its next three games are against Eastern Conference bottom feeders, starting with Sunday's opener of a home-and-home set with the Toronto Raptors at Philips Arena.
The Hawks (35-24) came into April getting little from their reserves - their 27.6 points per game were seventh-fewest in the league - but suddenly the second unit has been providing plenty of production. Atlanta's bench has averaged 42.4 points in five games this month, including a season-high 58 in Friday's 109-81 rout at Orlando.
"If we keep getting bench production like that over the next six or seven games going into the playoffs, we are going to be a scary ball club in the postseason," ...
(AP) -- After a rough beginning to their stretch of three road games in three nights, the Boston Celtics appear to be headed in the right direction once again.
The Celtics look to conclude their back-to-back-to-back weekend Sunday night by sending the Charlotte Bobcats to their second 16-game losing streak of the season.
Riding a four-game winning streak with victories over Indiana, Philadelphia, Miami and Atlanta, Boston (35-25) fell flat at Toronto on Friday, shooting 37.5 percent in an 84-79 loss.
Frustrated by that defeat against a team out of playoff contention, the Celtics used a second-half surge Saturday to win for the 20th time in 28 games, 94-82 at New Jersey. Kevin Garnett had 21 points with 12 rebounds and Avery Bradley scored 11 of his 18 during a third quarter in whic...
(AP) -- There seem to be more questions than answers when it comes to the Sacramento Kings' future in California's capital.
There is no question that the Kings need to start playing better.
Sacramento will try to end a season-high seven-game losing streak Sunday when it hosts a Portland Trail Blazers team nearing elimination from the playoff race.
Although a tentative agreement was reached last month that would keep the Kings in Sacramento and have them open a new arena for the 2015-16 season, team ownership has since raised issue with some of the costs involved in the project.
"It just feels like they were coming up with reasons of why not to do the deal," Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson said of a Friday meeting with the Maloof family.
George Maloof has mentioned that it may be possible to renovate Power Balance Pavilion, but league commissioner Davi...
(AP) -- Having all but locked up the top seed throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Chicago Bulls' biggest priority leading up to the postseason is Derrick Rose getting the rust off his shot.
Despite that significant issue, the Bulls seemingly should have little trouble beating the Detroit Pistons considering what they accomplished last time out.
Chicago looks to build on an emotional victory and win its 15th straight over the Pistons on Sunday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Rose was a game-time decision for Thursday's highly anticipated showdown with Miami after sitting out Tuesday's win over New York with a sprained right ankle. While the league MVP started and claimed his ankle didn't bother him, he was extremely ineffective.
Rose missed 12 of 13 shots and the Bulls (45-14) were outscored by 27 ...
(AP) -- After the Dallas Mavericks swept them out of last year's postseason, the Los Angeles Lakers now could return the favor. Doing it without Kobe Bryant might further build their confidence for a potential playoff rematch.
While coach Mike Brown will return, Bryant is unlikely to get back in action as the surging Lakers go for a season sweep of the defending NBA champions Sunday at Staples Center.
The offseason trade of Lamar Odom to the Mavericks appeared to further turn the tide against Los Angeles in this rivalry, but that deal was a bust - Dallas says Odom won't play again this season - and the Lakers have won all three meetings.
A Lakers sweep wouldn't be nearly as shocking as the Mavericks needing only four games to oust Los Angeles in the Western Conference semifinals l...
(AP) -- Much has been made of the Miami Heat's inability to beat teams with winning records on the road.
If they can't find a way Sunday, it might not bode well for their chances of making a run for the championship.
In a potential first-round playoff series preview, the Heat again hope to shake their recent road woes in a matinee against a New York Knicks team looking to reel off a 10th straight victory at Madison Square Garden.
Miami (41-17) bounced back from a 96-86 overtime loss in Chicago on Thursday with an easy 105-82 victory over woeful Charlotte a night later. LeBron James had 19 points and nine assists and got to rest the fourth quarter, while Dwyane Wade sat out the game with a sprained right ankle. Wade is expected to play Sunday.
Heat Look for Season Sweep Against Knicks: Fan Preview Yahoo! Contributor Network
The Miami Heat dominated the New York Knicks in their last encounter, stopping "Linsanity" dead in its tracks. They'll look for another dominant performance against the Knicks, when the Eastern Conference rivals meet on April 15....