Clippers pull off 126-122 win against Blazers Reigning champ Spurs book playoff return
Los Angeles’ Chris Paul had a season-high 41 points and 17 assists to lead the Clippers to a come- from- behind 126-122 win at Portland on Wednesday, denying the Trail Blazers a win that would have clinched the NBA’s Northwest Division title.
Portland, which had won its previous four games, will have to wait to clinch their first division title in five years. The Blazers remained 6-1/2 games clear of Oklahoma City, which failed to make up ground after suffering a home defeat against Dallas in an even higher-scoring game.
Among other key results, Milwaukee ended its long run of home losses against Chicago by beating the Bulls, and Houston’s James Harden scored a career-high 51 points to power Houston to victory over Sacramento.
The Clippers trailed by 19 points in the first half but were led back by Paul and J.J. Redick, who added 25 points, including five 3-pointers, and eight rebounds. They then held off a furious Portland rally at the end.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 29 points.
Dallas withstood a triple-double from Russell Westbrook and won 135-131 at Oklahoma City.
Westbrook finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. It was his 10th triple-double of the season, the 17th of his career and his eighth since the All-Star break.
Dallas’ Monta Ellis scored 26 points and Chandler Parson added 22 for the Mavericks, who had seven players in double figures.
The Thunder lost despite having three players score at least 30 points. Anthony Morrow scored 32 and Enes Kanter added a career-high 30.
Milwaukee snapped a run of ninestraight home losses against Chicago by beating the Bulls 95-91.
Michael Carter-Williams had 21 points and 10 rebounds while Ersan Ilyasova added 16 for the Bucks, who maintained a 2-1/2 game lead over Miami and Brooklyn for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago’s seven-game winning streak against Milwaukee ended despite 25 points and seven rebounds from Jimmy Butler.
Houston’s James Harden strengthened his case for the MVP award with a career-high 51 points and the Rockets needed just about all of them as they hung on for a
Reigning champions San Antonio are headed back to the NBA playoffs for the 18th straight season after a 103-91 victory over Orlando.
Backup big man Aron Baynes scored a career-high 18 points to lead the Spurs, whose reserves outscored the Magic bench 69-12.
Manu Ginobili added 13 points and Marco Belinelli chipped in 12 for the Spurs. Boris Diaw had 11 points and Kawhi Leonard contributed 10 points and seven rebounds.
10,000 Two-point Field Goals
With one of his signature bank shots in the third quarter, veteran Spurs star Tim Duncan marked his 10,000th two-point field goal. He is one of just 11 players in NBA history to hit 10,000 two-pointers.
The Spurs trailed 19-16 before scoring the last seven points of the first quarter to take the lead for good.
San Antonio led by as many as 25 points in the second half, cruising to their fifth straight victory.
The Spurs are 15-3 since Feb. 27, once again showing their ability to round into form as the playoffs loom.
“It’s not that we are switching it on now,” Ginobili said. “We tried to get it together early, but we just couldn’t, whether it was from injuries or just poor play.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich isn’t surprised to see his veteran team delivering the goods as the post-season approaches — even on the second night of back-toback games.
“They’re high-character guys 115-111 win over Sacramento.
Wednesday’s performance surpassed Harden’s previous career best of 50 points, which came on March 19.
An 8-0 run by Harden, which he capped with a 3-point play, pushed the Houston lead to 112-104. Four straight points by the Kings cut the lead to four with less than a minute left, but they didn’t score after that.
DeMarcus Cousins led Sacramento with his second career triple-double with 24 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists.
San Antonio clinched a playoff berth with a 103-91 win at Orlando.
Aron Baynes had 18 points and and they care about what’s going on,” Popovich said.
The Spurs are currently sixth in the Western Conference.
Behind them the Dallas Mavericks tightened their grip on the seventh seed with a 135-131 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are currently in the eighth and final playoff spot and four games adrift of the Mavs.
Monta Ellis scored 26 points for Dallas, Chandler Parsons added 22 with six assists and Dirk Manu Ginobili added 13 for the Spurs, who have made the postseason for 18-straight years.
Victor Oladipo led the Magic with 24 points but Orlando still fell to the Spurs for the eighth straight time.
Boston’s Kelly Olynyk scored 19 points after nearly missing the game with an eye injury sustained hours before tip-off, and the Celtics beat Indiana 100-87 in a match of Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls.
Tyler Zeller scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half for Boston, which is half a game out of a playoff spot. The Celtics sit just behind Brooklyn and Miami, who are tied for seventh in the East. Nowitzki added 18 for Dallas, who snapped a two-game skid.
Russell Westbrook, Enes Kanter and Anthony Morrow did everything they could.
Westbrook posted his 10th triple-double of the season with 31 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds.
Kanter delivered a career-high 30 points with 16 rebounds and Morrow came off the bench and drained six three-pointers on his way to a season-high 32 points.
George Hill had 21 points for the Pacers, who fell two games behind Boston.
Utah cruised to a 98-84 win against Denver, with Rudy Gobert scoring a career-high 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
Charlotte beat Detroit 102-78 to keep pace in the playoff race, staying two games behind Brooklyn.
Toronto’s Lou Williams scored 18 points to lead a balanced Raptors offense that won 113-99 at Minnesota.
Washington stayed three games behind the Raptors by beating Philadelphia 106-93, with Marcin Gortat contributing 23 points and 14 rebounds.
Orlando Magic’s Victor Oladipo, right, looks for a way around San Antonio Spurs’ Danny Green #14 during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Florida on Wednesday, April 1.