***** NBA Previews from The Sports Network *****
Wednesday, April 16th
(All times Eastern)
CHICAGO BULLS (48-33) AT CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (42-39), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two playoff-bound teams in the Eastern Conference still
have something to play for Wednesday night when the Chicago Bulls visit The
Time Warner Cable Arena to close out the regular season against the Charlotte
The Bulls can move to the third seed with a win on Wednesday night, coupled
with a Toronto Raptors loss. The Atlantic Division champs will play in Madison
Square Garden Wednesday versus the New York Knicks.
"Whoever we play, we're going to be a tough out," said Joakim Noah. "We're
hungry; we want this. We believe in one another. We believe in our system. It
feels great to be in this position right now, but we're definitely not
satisfied. We want more; we feel like we can do more."
Charlotte will be making only its second postseason appearance in franchise
history, but its positioning has yet to be determined. If the Bobcats beat the
Bulls and the Washington Wizards fall in Boston against the Celtics, Charlotte
would move to the sixth seed.
Last time out, the Bulls got back into the win column with a 108-95 victory at
home against the Orlando Magic. Chicago had a seven-game winning streak
snapped on Sunday versus the Knicks, but returned to its winning ways against
the lowly Magic.
Mike Dunleavy poured in 22 points while shooting 8-for-11 from the field to
lead the Bulls.
Noah tallied 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and Jimmer Fredette
added 17 points for the Bulls, who have won 10 of 12. Jimmy Butler contributed
12 points for Chicago, followed by Carlos Boozer and Tony Snell, who had 13
points apiece, with Boozer adding 12 boards and five assists.
"We just want to be playing our best basketball, which I think we're playing
pretty well. We want to go (into the playoffs) with a good momentum," Boozer
The Bobcats, whose only other playoff appearance came after the 2009-10
season, have won two in a row and seven of their last eight.
Chris Douglas-Roberts' floater at the buzzer lifted the Bobcats to a 95-93 win
over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday. Douglas-Roberts took an inbound feed from
Josh McRoberts at the top of the key, drove inside the paint and floated the
shot in as the buzzer sounded.
"Well that was the last option," Bobcats head coach Steve Clifford said of the
final play. "There were a couple of other options that they (Hawks) took away.
They did a good job. It was a good screen from Al (Jefferson), a good cut from
(Douglas-Roberts), and then Josh (McRoberts) is a very good inbounder. He made
a great shot to win the game."
Al Jefferson scored 27 points with 15 rebounds for the Bobcats, who snapped an
11-game losing streak to Atlanta. Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour contributed 17
and 10 points, respectively, in the win.
Charlotte's Kemba Walker, who returned from a two-game absence with a groin
injury, scored just five points with seven assists on 1-for-9 shooting.
The Bulls won all three matchups this season with Charlotte and five in a row
in the series. Chicago has taken five straight and six of its last seven in
INDIANA PACERS (55-26) AT ORLANDO MAGIC (23-58), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers are the No. 1 seed in the Eastern
Conference, but they will finish out the regular season Wednesday night when
they visit the Amway Center to face the Orlando Magic.
"I was excited that we got it. It was something we set out for," head coach
Frank Vogel said of the No. 1 seed. "It gives us the best chances going into
Indiana clinched the top seed and homecourt advantage throughout the Eastern
Conference playoffs when the Miami Heat lost to the Washington Wizards on
The Pacers will face the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs, but
Indiana must finish out the regular season. Vogel will balance the playing
time of his key pieces.
"We're going to rest David (West), Lance (Stephenson) and Paul George,"
acknowledged Vogel. "We're going to let George (Hill) and Roy (Hibbert) get
some work in the game. They'll start but won't play the whole game. They've
both been struggling a little bit and I think it would benefit them to play
without the starters."
The Pacers have won two of three and atoned for their Friday night loss in
South Beach with a 102-97 home win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday
George hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with just over two minutes left, and
Stephenson recorded his NBA-leading fifth triple-double with 17 points, 10
rebounds and 11 assists. George totaled 20 points and 12 rebounds, while West
scored 21 as the Pacers won for just the third time in nine games.
The Magic are headed back to the lottery and will finish with the third-worst
record in the league. Utah could tie them with a win and an Orlando loss, but
the Jazz swept the Magic in the regular season.
Orlando has dropped three straight, including Monday's 108-95 road loss to the
Kyle O'Quinn totaled 20 points and seven rebounds and Andrew Nicholson scored
19 points for the Magic, who have lost six of eight. Arron Afflalo and Victor
Oladipo scored 13 and 10 points, respectively, in the loss.
That setback gave the Magic a league-worst 4-37 mark on the road, which is
also the worst in franchise history.
"With time, we'll be better (on the road)," said O'Quinn. "We made a good run
at home and next year we hope that we keep the run going at home and step it
up on the road."
The Pacers won two of three this season against the Magic. Their lone setback
came in Orlando, where Indiana is 2-9 in its last 11 appearances.
ATLANTA HAWKS (37-44) AT MILWAUKEE BUCKS (15-66), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Hawks are headed to the playoffs, but before
the postseason begins, they must visit the Bradley Center to take on the
The Hawks are going to the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season, the
second-longest active streak in the NBA behind only the revered San Antonio
Atlanta is locked into the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and will face
the Indiana Pacers.
The Hawks got into the postseason by virtue of a 13-point home victory over
the Miami Heat on Saturday. That gave them a three-game winning streak, but
that run crashed to a halt Monday night thanks to a buzzer-beater loss at home
to the Charlotte Bobcats.
Chris Douglas-Roberts' floater at the horn lifted the Charlotte Bobcats to a
Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll all sat out for the Hawks to
rest for the upcoming playoffs.
Mike Scott paced Atlanta with 20 points, while Lou Williams and Shelvin Mack
each netted 13 in the setback.
"Every time you go out there and compete you always feel like you can win,"
said Mack. "Especially the way we were playing early on. But we had some bad
moments down the stretch that kind of led to them being able to get on a run
and get going."
Jeff Teague, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, tallied 11
points with five assists for the Hawks.
The Bucks will thankfully wrap up this horrendous regular season. They will
finish with the worst record in the league and have the most ping-pong balls
for the NBA Draft Lottery on May 20.
Milwaukee has lost two in a row, both on the road. On Monday, the Bucks fell
to the Toronto Raptors, 110-100, as the Raptors even sat out leading scorer
DeMar DeRozan despite being in a battle for the third seed in the Eastern
Ramon Sessions ended with 21 points and five assists for the Bucks, who have
lost 14 in a row on the road. Jeff Adrien and Brandon Knight added 19 and 18
points, respectively, with Adrien also pulling down nine rebounds.
"We fell behind, we tried to fight back," Milwaukee coach Larry Drew said. "We
got it under 10, but we just couldn't get over the hump."
The Hawks won both of this season's meetings and six in a row overall against
the Bucks. Atlanta has won three straight and four of its last five in
DALLAS MAVERICKS (49-32) AT MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (49-32), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The winner is the seventh seed, the loser the eighth.
That is what's at stake in the Western Conference Wednesday night when the
Memphis Grizzlies host the Dallas Mavericks at FedExForum.
Wednesday's winner will play either the Oklahoma City Thunder or Los Angeles
Clippers, depending on the outcome of two games. Wednesday's loser draws the
No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs.
The Grizzlies became the last team to clinch a postseason berth on Monday when
they knocked off the Phoenix Suns, 97-91, at US Airways Center.
"This is a culmination of not just this week or not just March or April, this
is a culmination of everything we've been through since December," said
Memphis coach David Joerger. "For these guys, it's a happy locker room, a
relived locker room and just a bunch of very proud guys with great chemistry."
Memphis made it to the Western Conference Finals one year ago, but a knee
injury to center Marc Gasol provided adversity through this season.
It took a gutsy win against the feisty Suns to secure a berth.
Zach Randolph and Mike Miller both netted season highs with 32 and 21 points.
With the Grizzlies holding a one-point lead with just over two minutes to
play, Eric Bledsoe and Mike Conley traded pull-up jumpers, Miles Plumlee
tipped in Bledsoe's missed layup and Conley hit a 3-pointer to put Memphis in
front, 93-91, with 1:08 remaining. Goran Dragic then got caught in the air on
the game's decisive possession and threw the ball away, leading to Randolph's
transition layup. Until then, the entire fourth quarter was played as a one-
There were 22 lead changes overall, with 14 of them coming in the fourth
Gasol finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Conley scored 14 with
seven assists in the Grizzlies' fourth straight win.
The Grizzlies will take a 13-game home winning streak into Wednesday's pivotal
contest. Memphis hasn't lost on Beale Street since Feb. 5 and the opponent
that night? The Dallas Mavericks.
The Mavs punched their postseason ticket on Saturday with a home win over the
Monta Ellis, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, had 37
points, Dirk Nowitzki netted 21 of his 23 in the second half to lead the
"We set a goal for the beginning of the season, we had our ups and we had our
downs, but tonight we came together as a team, everyone really wanted to get
this win," Ellis said.
The game went back and forth as Phoenix built a 13-point lead in the second
half. Dallas responded and was eight clear with 2:25 remaining, but it went
down to the wire.
There were several missed shots and when Dallas' Brandan Wright helped secure
the victory with a big block of Eric Bledsoe. The Suns still had a chance,
but Markieff Morris missed a desperation 3-pointer.
The Mavericks have won all three meetings this season with the Grizzlies,
although they are 1-5 in their last six in Memphis.
DETROIT PISTONS (29-52) AT OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (58-23), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder will once again try to wrap up
the second seed in the Western Conference Wednesday when they close out the
regular season at home against the Detroit Pistons.
Oklahoma City needs either a win on Wednesday, or a Los Angeles Clippers road
loss to the Portland Trail Blazers to secure the No. 2 seed out West. The
opponent of the second-ranked team is still unknown, but it will be the loser
of Wednesday's Memphis Grizzlies/Dallas Mavericks game.
OKC has had a chance to clinch that No. 2 seed before, but it is on a two-game
The Thunder fell in Indianapolis to the Pacers on Sunday afternoon, then lost
in the Big Easy to the New Orleans Pelicans, 101-89, Monday night.
Oklahoma City had no answer for Tyreke Evans, who stuffed the stat sheet,
pouring in 41 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Evans shot 14-of-26
from the field and 12-of-16 from the free-throw line for New Orleans, which
had lost eight straight games and played without six of its top seven scorers
"I'm not making any excuses, they just beat us," said Kevin Durant. "They got
whatever they wanted at the offensive end, and it felt like we were just out
Durant and Serge Ibaka scored 25 and 22 points, respectively, in the setback,
while the other three Thunder starters combined for just eight points on 3-
for-17 shooting. With the playoffs approaching, Russell Westbrook took the
game off to rest his surgically repaired knee.
The Thunder may have squandered two chances at claiming the second seed, but
they have great history against Wednesday's opponent. They have won nine
straight versus the Pistons, who have never won in Oklahoma City since the
franchise moved from Seattle prior to the 2008-09 season.
Detroit has lost three in a row to close out this hideous season. The Pistons
had playoff aspirations after signing Josh Smith as a free agent in the
offseason, but all this season brought was the firing of Maurice Cheeks midway
through and, on Monday, the resignation of Joe Dumars, President of Basketball
The Pistons fell to the Toronto Raptors, 116-107, at The Palace of Auburn
Hills on Sunday.
Greg Monroe netted 23 points and had 10 rebounds and Andre Drummond had 14
points and 17 rebounds for the Pistons. Rodney Stuckey totaled 18 points,
Brandon Jennings scored 17 with seven assists and Kyle Singler chipped in 14
points in defeat.
"We had no rhythm early on and we didn't guard," Pistons head coach John Loyer
HOUSTON ROCKETS (54-27) AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (33-48), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets will have home-court advantage in
the first round of the playoffs, but before that, they will close out the
regular season Wednesday night at the Smoothie King Center to face the New
The Rockets clinched the fourth seed in Monday's 104-98 home victory over the
San Antonio Spurs. That gave Houston a season-sweep of the vaunted Spurs and
also home-court over the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the
Western Conference playoffs.
"We fought hard for it. It took a little longer than I hoped but we knew we
had to get 54 wins and we got there with one to spare," Rockets coach Kevin
McHale said after Monday's win. "I'm glad we didn't have to wait until
Wednesday to try and get it."
How much time Houston's starters see remains unclear but they were magnificent
Chandler Parsons tallied 21 points to lead a balanced scoring attack for the
Rockets. Dwight Howard added 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting while pulling down
Terrence Jones finished with 20 points and 11 boards in the win, with James
Harden netting 16 points along with seven assists despite a 4-of-16
performance from the field. Patrick Beverley, Houston's fifth starter, added
The Pelicans snapped an eight-game losing streak on Monday with an unexpected
home win over the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder, who were still battling for
the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
New Orleans played without six of its top seven scorers this season, but that
one who played made a mighty difference.
Tyreke Evans stuffed the stat sheet, pouring in 41 points, nine rebounds and
eight assists in the Pelicans' surprising 101-89 win over the Thunder. Evans
shot 14-of-26 from the field and 12-of-16 from the free-throw line for New
"We've been short-handed all year," Evans said. "I wasn't supposed to play
tonight. My knee was bothering me, but I knew we needed a win bad. Coach
talked about finishing the season strong. That's what we wanted to do tonight.
It was a team effort."
Luke Babbitt donated 12 points off the bench, while Darius Miller and Alexis
Ajinca had 10 points.
Anthony Davis (back spasms) and Eric Gordon (knee tendinitis) were inactive
and will not play the rest of the season for New Orleans, while Brian Roberts
is day-to-day with an ankle injury. Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday and Jason
Smith had already been ruled out for the season.
The Rockets have won all three meetings this season with the Pelicans and two
straight as the visitor in this series. Houston is just 4-7 in its last 11
playing in the Big Easy.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (26-55) AT SAN ANTONIO SPURS (62-19), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Antonio Spurs have wrapped up the best record in
the NBA, but they'll put a close on the regular season Wednesday night with a
home game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Spurs will have home-court advantage throughout the entire playoffs. They
have nothing to play for on Wednesday night, but the starters should see time
versus the Lakers.
"Most everybody," said the ever-effusive Spurs skipper Gregg Popovich.
San Antonio continues its remarkable run through the NBA, not so
coincidentally in the Tim Duncan era. Since Duncan's arrival, the Spurs have
won 50-plus games in every full season, 60-plus four times and four NBA
The Spurs won a franchise-record 19 straight games, yet, what impresses
Popovich the most about his group this season has to do with something that
occurred last season.
"What does impress me about the group is that they've gotten themselves in
this position after a devastating loss in the Finals last year," said
Popovich. "I thought they were pretty amazing after Game 6 to play as hard as
they did in Game 7, when I think a lot of teams would have just given in.
Beyond that, they came back, put it aside and have done what they've done. I
think that's pretty impressive. I don't think a lot of people have picked up
on that but I have and I'm really impressed with them."
San Antonio all but had a fifth ring wrapped up until Ray Allen hit a
desperation 3-pointer to tie Game 6 with 5.2 seconds on the clock. Miami
prevailed in overtime of that game, then won the title in Game 7.
The Spurs head into Wednesday's matchup after a 104-98 loss in Houston to the
The Big Three of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili played, but key
contributors Tiago Splitter, Patty Mills, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard all
Marco Belinelli paced San Antonio with 17 points, with Duncan posting 12
points and nine rebounds and Jeff Ayres also recording 12 points while coming
off the bench.
The Lakers will be put out of their collective misery on Wednesday. The 55
losses are a franchise-worst and LA is headed to the lottery for the first
time since the 2004-05 season.
On Monday, the Lakers halted a seven-game losing streak with a 119-104 road
win over the Utah Jazz.
Nick Young was two off his career-high with 41 points to lead the Lakers.
"My teammates were finding me. I just got hot," Young said.
Jodie Meeks and Jordan Hill added 23 and 21 points, respectively, for the
Lakers, who also snapped a seven-game road skid. Wesley Johnson and Robert
Sacre each had 12 points.
The Spurs have taken all three games against the Lakers this season and three
in a row as the host in this series.
BROOKLYN NETS (44-37) AT CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (32-49), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Brooklyn Nets will try to secure the fifth seed in
the Eastern Conference Wednesday night when they visit Quicken Loans Arena to
meet the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Nets need a win Wednesday or a Washington Wizards loss in Boston against
the Celtics to guarantee the fifth seed.
Brooklyn is stumbling a bit heading toward the postseason. The Nets have
dropped three of their last four, including two at home. The most recent
setback came Tuesday night at the Barclays Center against the New York Knicks,
Marcus Thornton netted 24 points for the Nets, who couldn't get by the Knicks,
despite the fact that leading scorer Carmelo Anthony wasn't in action due to a
Mason Plumlee tallied 16 points with nine rebounds and Paul Pierce dropped in
13 in the setback.
Pierce's 3-pointer to open the game marked his 1,000th point of the season,
which made him the sixth player in history to record 1,000 points in 15
"We want guys to be healthy going into the playoffs," said Pierce. "One of our
biggest strengths is our depth so it's important that the guys get healthy for
us to try and make this run."
The Cavaliers have lost two straight and four of five.
On Saturday, Cleveland lost at home to the Boston Celtics, 111-99, to help the
Celtics end a 13-game road losing streak.
"We have to do a better job of battling human nature and not allowing that to
impact our effort," said Cavs center Spencer Hawes, who did not score after
opening the game with a 3-pointer.
Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Jarrett Jack all scored 15 points. Tristan
Thompson netted 14 and Tyler Zeller managed 12 points, followed by 11 from
Alonzo Gee and 10 out of Matthew Dellavedova.
Hawes also grabbed 10 boards.
The Nets have taken two of three against the Cavaliers this season, but
Brooklyn has won six of the last seven meetings. The Nets are 4-2 in their
last six at the Q.
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (18-63) AT MIAMI HEAT (54-27), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The two-time defending champion Miami Heat are locked
into the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and will prep for the playoffs
with Wednesday's matchup versus the Philadelphia 76ers.
Miami isn't playing its best basketball of late and lost out on a chance for
conference supremacy to the Indiana Pacers following Monday's 114-93 loss
against the Washington Wizards. Miami, which began the day still in contention
for the top spot, opted to rest starters LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
Michael Beasley paced the Heat with 18 points off the bench, Toney Douglas
scored 14 and Ray Allen netted 13 in a reserve role. Dwyane Wade, who needed
some minutes before possibly a long postseason run, ended with nine points and
three assists. It was Wade's second game since returning from a nine-game
absence caused by an injured hamstring.
"Not too many takeaways we can take from tonight other than the fact that we
got Dwyane out there, got him some game time, some game conditioning but even
that wasn't a whole lot," said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.
The Wizards made 59 percent of their shots and sank 14-of-29 3-pointers. They
were led by Trevor Ariza's 25 points and Nene netted 18. Washington had a
70-48 lead by halftime and shot 70.3 percent in the first half.
Either Washington or the Charlotte Bobcats will face Miami in the first round.
Miami has lost two in a row and five of seven games and owns a 32-8 record at
AmericanAirlines Arena this season. The Heat have won seven of their last nine
games in South Beach.
The re-building 76ers are headed to the NBA lottery and hope to close the
season with back-to-back wins.
Philadelphia hasn't prevailed in two straight games since a four-game winning
streak from Dec. 29-Jan. 4 and halted a four-game slide with Monday's 113-108
home victory over the Boston Celtics. Even though Kelly Olynyk (28), Jeff
Green (27) and Avery Bradley (23) all scored more than 20 points, the Sixers
used a more balanced attack.
Rookie of the Year candidate Michael Carter-Williams finished just shy of a
triple-double with 21 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and four steals to lead
the Sixers, who shot 54 percent and received 20 points from Tony Wroten off
the bench. Thaddeus Young and Henry Sims scored 15 and 13 points,
respectively, in the win.
"We executed down the stretch. We made some big plays and we got some big
stops," said Carter-Williams, who is averaging 18.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and
6.7 assists in the last nine games.
The 76ers are 2-6 since halting a 26-game losing streak versus Detroit on
March 29 and will put their 8-32 road mark to the test. They are winless in
the last three games away from Wells Fargo Center.
With another loss the Sixers can match the 1995-96 squad (18-64).
Philadelphia opened the Brett Brown era with three straight wins, including a
114-110 victory over Miami on Oct. 30. The Heat evened the score with a 101-86
triumph on Jan. 17 to improve to 17-2 in the past 19 games in this series.
Both games were played in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Sixers have lost 10 straight and 16 of the last 18 trips to South Beach.
UTAH JAZZ (24-57) AT MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (40-41), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - In what could be the final game for Minnesota
Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman, the T'Wolves will close the season
Wednesday versus the Northwest-rival Utah Jazz at Target Center.
Adelman could receive his walking papers after the season and his team hasn't
made the playoffs since 2003-04. The Timberwolves do have a chance to finish
with a .500 record, which would be the first since 2004-05 (44-38).
Minnesota dropped its third in a row on the road with Monday's 130-120 setback
at Golden State, as Kevin Love pumped in 40 points on 11-of-24 shooting and
pulled down 14 rebounds. Corey Brewer, two games removed from a 51-point
outburst, ended with 22 and made 10-of-13 from the field.
Ricky Rubio posted 15 points and eight assists, while Gorgui Dieng and Kevin
Martin also scored 15 apiece for the T'Wolves, who have lost two in a row
since winning four of six games. Minnesota shot 53 percent from the field.
The Wolves allowed the Warriors to score 30 or more points in each of the last
three quarters and Stephen Curry led four players with at least 20 points by
scoring 32 and handing out 15 assists.
"You knew they were going to make a run," said Timberwolves coach Rick
Adelman. "Nothing changed. You're not going to be able to hold them down. We
got out to a great start, but you knew they were going to make a run
Minnesota is 24-16 at Target Center, where it has prevailed in five of its
last seven opportunities. Love is averaging 25.2 points and 11.8 rebounds in
his last nine games. Many wonder if Love's career in Minnesota is coming to a
close soon, as he can opt out of his contract in 2015.
The Jazz look to end the season on a high note, having lost five in a row and
21 of their last 24 games. In a 119-104 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Salt
Lake City, all five starters scored in double digits and Alec Burks led the
way with 22. Burks is scoring 16.3 ppg in his past six (3 starts).
Gordon Hayward had 21 points, Enes Kanter ended with 19 and 12 rebounds and
Trey Burke chipped in 17 points for the Jazz, who shot an impressive 52
percent and committed 18 turnovers for 29 Lakers points. Derrick Favors
rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12 points.
"(The Lakers) got hot as a team. They got out in transition and we really
didn't get stops like we needed to. That's the bottom line," said Jazz guard
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin could be on the hot seat as well when the season
comes to a close. Corbin's squad is just 8-32 away from home and winless in
the past seven road games.
Utah is 0-3 against Minnesota this season and has lost three of its last five
trips to the Twin Cities. The Jazz are still a decent 11-5 in the past 16
meetings between the Northwest foes and 68-35 all-time in the series.
Minnesota has never swept a season series from Utah.
WASHINGTON WIZARDS (43-38) AT BOSTON CELTICS (25-56), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Wizards still have wiggle room left for
playoff positioning when they visit the Boston Celtics Wednesday at TD Bank
The Wizards are sixth in the East -- one game behind Brooklyn and one ahead of
Charlotte -- and can lock up the fifth seed with a win and a Nets loss at
Cleveland. The Wizards, who have the tiebreaker against Brooklyn, can sew up
the No. 6 seed with a victory over the Celtics, but will drop to seventh if
they lose and the Bobcats prevail versus Chicago.
Charlotte went 3-1 against the Wizards this season. The seventh seed has a
date with the two-time defending champion Miami Heat in the first round.
Washington handed the Heat a 114-93 loss on Monday, but didn't face LeBron
James or Chris Bosh. Trevor Ariza scored 25 points, Nene added 18 and Al
Harrington netted 16 points for the Wizards, who shot 59 percent for the game
and sank 14-of-29 3-pointers. They had a 70-48 lead by halftime and shot 70.3
percent in the first half.
Bradley Beal scored 15 points, Marcin Gortat ended with 10 and 13 rebounds and
John Wall chipped in four points and 13 assists in the win, Washington's
seventh in the last 10 tries. Wall was averaging 19.1 points since the All-
"I want them to continue, even with one game left, to build and use that game
as something positive going into the playoffs," said Wizards head coach Randy
The Wizards go for their third straight road win and are 21-19 outside the
nation's capital. They are in the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08.
Boston is closing out its re-building season and will not participate in the
playoffs for the first time since 2006-07.
The Celtics were aiming for a three-game winning streak, but instead dropped a
113-108 decision in south Philly Monday night for their 15th loss in 18 tries.
Rookie Kelly Olynyk (28), Jeff Green (27) and Avery Bradley (23) all scored
more than 20 points and it wasn't enough to stay in the win column.
Olynyk's 28 points were a career high.
"There are a couple guys sidelined with injuries, so other guys have to step
in and pick up the load," Olynyk said. "I just figured this would be a good
time to do it."
Rajon Rondo ended with eight points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds for the
Celtics, who made a respectable 47 percent from the field and didn't have
Jerryd Bayless (knee) or Jared Sullinger (ankle).
Boston fans will get to see their team for the final time this season and the
Celtics have a 16-24 record at TD Bank Garden. The Celtics have lost five of
their last seven in front of the home crowd.
"Those fans have been phenomenal all year. We've had our struggles and they've
been behind us the whole time, which has been unbelievable," Olynyk said. "I
would say they are definitely the best fans in the league. Even with our
situation, they still go out and give a whole-hearted effort. We owe it to
them to come out and play as hard as we can and try to get one for them."
The Celtics are 1-2 against Washington this season, but have won eight of 10
and nine of the past 12 games in this series. The Wizards have lost six of
seven and 10 of 13 trips to Beantown.
TORONTO RAPTORS (48-33) AT NEW YORK KNICKS (36-45), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - It will take the last game of the regular season to
determine what seed the Toronto Raptors will be for the playoffs.
The Raptors have to get through the pesky New York Knicks Wednesday at Madison
Square Garden and can lock up the third spot in the Eastern Conference with a
win or a Chicago loss in Charlotte.
Toronto will fall to the No. 4 spot if it loses and the Bulls top the Bobcats.
In the postseason for the first time since 2007-08, the Atlantic Division-
champion Raptors set a franchise record for wins with Monday's 110-100 victory
versus the Milwaukee Bucks at Air Canada Centre. Greivis Vasquez started in
place of DeMar DeRozan and made five 3-pointers en route to 25 points, while
Kyle Lowry added 24 points for Toronto, which posted its team-best 48th win.
The previous record of 47 wins was achieved twice in 2000-01 and 2006-07.
"I always have been ready for any opportunity since I got here," Vasquez said.
"I'm all about winning and they gave me a chance to start, and I want to help
the team win and have a presence in games."
Jonas Valanciunas recorded 14 points and 13 rebounds as the Raptors reached
the 100-point mark for a seventh straight game.
DeRozan could return to the floor Wednesday to help Toronto capture the third
spot in the East. His 22.8 scoring average is the highest since former Raptor
and current Miami center Chris Bosh averaged 22.7 ppg in 2008-09. DeRozan is
posting 24.2 points in the last six games.
The Raptors have won nine of their last 11 games and will try to work on their
22-18 road record at MSG. They have won four of the last five road contests.
New York spoiled Brooklyn's chances of locking up the No. 5 seed in the East
with Tuesday's 109-98 victory over the Nets at Barclays Center. With All-Star
forward Carmelo Anthony shut down for the rest of the season with a shoulder
issue, rookie Tim Hardaway, Jr. posted a team-best 16 points.
Amare Stoudemire, J.R. Smith and Shannon Brown scored 14 points apiece, while
Cole Aldrich ended with 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks, who missed
out on the eighth seed in the East. The Knicks have won three in a row and six
of the last eight games.
"You enjoy it more when you're in (the playoff hunt), when you're fighting for
something." Smith said of the win.
Meanwhile, an MRI on Anthony's shoulder revealed a small tear in the labrum of
his right shoulder. The injury will not require surgery and he will be
evaluated in a month. This could be Anthony's last season with the Knicks and
he is a pending free agent. He will miss the playoffs for the first time in
his career and averaged 27.4 ppg this season.
Anthony could opt out of his contract this summer and test free agency.
The Knicks, of course, hope to make some changes with Phil Jackson as the new
team president and that could mean the departure of head coach Mike Woodson.
Stoudemire is expected to sit Wednesday's game for the Knicks, who have an
18-22 record at home and will not participate in the postseason for the first
time since the 2009-10 campaign.
Toronto is 2-1 against New York this season and won the first meeting at
Madison Square Garden 95-83 on Dec. 27. These two Atlantic Division
inhabitants have split the last 10 games.
Lowry is averaging 24.0 points, 8.0 assists and 4.7 rebounds in three games
against the Knicks this season.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (50-31) AT DENVER NUGGETS (36-45), 10:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Golden State Warriors still don't know who their
opponent in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs will be and
will close the regular season Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets.
The Warriors are locked into the sixth seed in the West and could either face
the Los Angeles Clippers or Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference
Golden State won its last time out with a 130-120 triumph versus the Minnesota
Timberwolves on Monday, as Stephen Curry led the way with 32 points and 15
assists. David Lee tallied 25 points with nine rebounds, Draymond Green had a
career-high 20 points with 12 rebounds and Klay Thompson also added 20 points
for the Warriors.
"It's nice to see him (Lee) get his legs back and moving well," said Curry,
who is averaging 32.8 points and 10.8 assists in the last five games. "It's a
big-time confidence boost going into the playoffs just the way his
body has responded."
Curry made 7-of-13 3-pointers for the Warriors, who finished 15-of-37 from
beyond the arc. The Warriors set a franchise record with 766 3-pointers this
season, eclipsing the previous mark set in 2007-08 (761).
The Warriors have 50 wins for the first time since the 1993-94 season and are
9-5 in the last 14 games. They are closing the regular season on the road
where they have accumulated a 23-17 record.
A win Wednesday would give the Warriors their most wins since 1991-92 (55).
In injury news for Golden State, center Andrew Bogut is out indefinitely with
a broken rib and veteran Jermaine O'Neal will see extended playing time.
O'Neal made his 13th start his last time out, posting 10 points in 21 minutes.
Denver closes out the season at home and has won three in a row at the Pepsi
Center, where it sports a 22-18 mark this season.
The Nuggets had won three straight and four of six games until dropping a
117-105 decision to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. All five Denver
starters scored in double figures, as Kenneth Faried and Aaron Brooks notched
21 and 19 points, respectively.
Timofey Mozgov had 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Quincy Miller and Randy
Foye scored 11 points apiece for the Nuggets, who shot 43 percent and scored
23 points off 15 turnovers. The Nuggets were down 13-0 early on and trailed
63-46 at halftime.
"Their 13-0 run to start the game happened so fast. Maybe I should have called
a timeout. As short-handed as we were, we didn't have enough juice to get over
the hump," Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw said.
Faried is averaging 20.0 points and 10.8 rebounds since March 1.
Denver guard Ty Lawson (knee) is expected to miss Wednesday's game against the
Clippers and hasn't played since April 4 at Memphis (4 games). Lawson is
averaging team highs in points (17.6), assists (8.8) and steals (1.6).
The Nuggets will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03 and has
won two of three meetings with Golden State this season. Denver is 6-2 in the
last eight games in this series and has won 16 of the past 19 games as the
host versus the Warriors.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (57-24) AT PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (53-28), 10:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Clippers have a shot at the No. 2 seed
in the Western Conference when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday
in the regular season finale for both teams.
The Clippers need a win in the Rose City coupled by an Oklahoma City Thunder
loss to the Detroit Pistons to move up to the second spot in the West. The
Clippers already locked up the No. 3 seed.
Los Angeles set a franchise record for wins with Tuesday's 117-105 victory
over the Denver Nuggets and was led by Blake Griffin's 24 points. Chris Paul
ended with 21 points and 10 assists, J.J. Redick added 18 points and DeAndre
Jordan finished with 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Clippers, who posted
their 57th win of the season, shot 53 percent and scored 100-plus points for
the ninth straight game.
The Clippers, winners in 20 of the last 24 games, lead the NBA with 108.0 ppg
and are 36-12 since Jan. 1. They went 3-2 on the homestand and will try to
improve a 23-17 road ledger in Portland.
Griffin will not play on Wednesday after receiving his 16th technical foul,
which prompts a one-game suspension. The technical occurred late in the
second quarter when he swung his right arm while trying to get a ball from
Denver's Timofey Mozgov and struck him in the head.
"I think it will be rescinded ... but I'm not going to play anyway," Griffin
Portland, meanwhile, is the fifth seed in the West and will face the Houston
Rockets in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
The Trail Blazers have won four in a row and eight of their last nine games,
including Sunday's 119-117 overtime triumph versus the Golden State Warriors.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 26 points and put in the go-ahead
basket with under a minute left in overtime.
Wesley Matthews scored 24 points, Nicolas Batum ended with 18 and 12 rebounds
and Mo Williams scored 18 off the bench. Damian Lillard had 13 points and
handed out five assists for the Blazers, who shot 50 percent for the game and
posted a 46-38 advantage in rebounding.
Portland was able to survive a 47-point explosion on 16-of-29 shooting from
Warriors All-Star guard Stephen Curry. Curry made seven of Golden State's 17
"He had 47, but we still got the win," Matthews said.
The Blazers, who are third in the NBA with 106.7 ppg, target a fourth straight
win at home and have a 30-10 record inside the Moda Center. They have split
two meetings with the Clippers this season and the home team has prevailed
The Clippers are 6-2 in the last eight in this series, but have dropped two in
a row and 22 of 28 trips to the Pacific Northwest.
PHOENIX SUNS (47-34) AT SACRAMENTO KINGS (28-53), 10:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Jeff Hornacek deserves recognition as Coach of the Year
with the Phoenix Suns for their impressive 2013-14 season.
Hornacek and the Suns will not participate in the playoffs and look to end the
season on a winning note Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings. The Suns were
eliminated from postseason contention with Monday's 97-91 home loss versus the
The Suns and Grizzlies battled throughout the game and especially in the
fourth quarter, when Memphis recorded a 30-24 advantage. The Suns rallied from
a 10-point deficit after the first quarter (24-14) and were led by Markieff
Morris's 21 points off the bench.
Goran Dragic and Channing Frye scored 14 points apiece and Eric Bledsoe added
13 for the Suns, who are mired in a three-game losing streak after winning
three straight and nine of 11 games. Phoenix shot 48 percent, scored 23 points
off 19 turnovers and made only 5-of-26 3-pointers.
"We came up short," said Dragic. "We are headed in the right direction.
Overall it was a great and fun year for us."
Phoenix wasn't expected to win this many games, but overcame the odds under
the Hornacek regime.
The Suns, who were aiming for their first playoff berth since 2009-10, have a
21-19 record away from home.
Sacramento hopes to close another playoff-less season with consecutive wins
with the Suns in town. The Kings haven't been to the postseason since 2005-06
and halted a five-game slide the last time out in Sunday's 106-103 win over
the Minnesota Timberwolves.
DeMarcus Cousins had 35 points, 15 rebounds and six assists, but also picked
up his 16th technical foul. That means Cousins will start his offseason early
and is suspended for Wednesday's game. Cousins ended the 2013-14 campaign with
eight straight double-doubles, posting 27.9 points and 12.3 boards in that
span. He totaled 53 double-doubles, third in the NBA.
Cousins talked about his team following the win.
"We're still a team trying to grow and find ourselves," said Cousins, who
passed Vlade Divac for eighth place on the Sacramento-era all-time career list
Ben McLemore added 19 points for the Kings, who welcomed back guard Isaiah
Thomas. Thomas posted 14 points in 30 minutes and missed the previous 10 games
with a right quad contusion. Rudy Gay was sidelined with a lower back strain
and is questionable versus Phoenix.
The Kings are 3-8 in the last 11 games and 17-23 at home this season. They are
2-1 against the Suns this season and unbeaten in the past two meetings at
04/16 10:36:15 ET