Spurs streak reaches 10 with win over Rockets
San Antonio’s winning streak reached double figures and the Spurs moved above Houston in the intense fight for the NBA Southwest Division title by beating the Rockets 104-103 on Friday, with Tim Duncan preserving the victory by blocking a layup attempt with 2.9 seconds left.
The Spurs remained half a game behind Southwest leader Memphis, which maintained its edge by beating Utah thanks to a missed free throw which ended the game.
In other key results, Atlanta comfortably beat Charlotte to reach 60 wins for the first time in franchise history, and Boston boosted its playoff hopes with a road win at Cleveland.
San Antonio’s Duncan had 29 points and blocked James Harden’s last-gasp layup attempt to preserve a victory which moved the Spurs up to third in the Western Conference standings, while Houston slipped to sixth.
Harden had just 16 points as San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich kept the ball out of Harden’s hands by intentionally fouling Josh Smith 12 times in the second half. Smith went 12 of 26 from the freethrow line and led the Rockets with 20 points.
Memphis stayed just ahead of San Antonio by winning 89-88 at Utah.
The Grizzlies closed the game on a 16-6 run, but had to wait out a few anxious moments at the end. Marc Gasol was called for a foul on a 3-point attempt by Gordon Hayward with .01 seconds remaining. Hayward buried the first two free throws, but missed the third that would have forced overtime.
Marc Gasol had 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists while Beno Udrih started for the injured Mike Conley and had 20 point.
Hayward scored 27 points for the Jazz.
Atlanta replacement Mike Muscala scored 17 points to be the unlikely top scorer as the Hawks beat Charlotte 104-80.
Muscala was 8 for 9 from the field in 25 1/2 minutes while filling in for injured forward Paul Millsap, while Kyle Korver had 16 points for the Hawks, who have already secured the Southeast Division title, and unveiled the banner before the game.
Troy Daniels’ 15 points led the Hornets, who were eliminated from the playoff race with their third straight loss.
Boston maintained its share of seventh place in the East standings with a 99-93 win at Cleveland.
Marcus Smart scored 19 points for the Celtics, who had five players in double figures.
The Cavaliers, having already clinched the No. 2 seed for the East playoffs, used their reserves extensively. Kyrie Irving sat out to nurse a hip injury and LeBron James played only 26 minutes, scoring 14 points.
Brooklyn stayed level with Boston by routing Washington 117-80.
Brook Lopez scored 26 points and Bojan Bogdanovic added 22 for the Nets, who recorded their biggest-ever winning margin at their new home of Barclays Center. Bogdanovic was 6 for 6 from 3-point range.
Bradley Beal scored 24 points for the Wizards, who had won their previous four games.
New Orleans kept pace in the fight for eighth in the West by defeating Phoenix 90-75.
Anthony Davis had 19 points and nine rebounds while Eric Gordon scored 15 points for the Pelicans, who are tied with Oklahoma City for the last playoff spot with three games to play.
Eric Bledsoe led Phoenix with 19 points.
Dallas’ Raymond Felton hit a layup with 1.5 seconds remaining in double overtime, then blocked a last-second shot to give the Mavericks a 144-143 win at Denver.
Toronto’s Lou Williams made a 3-pointer with 9.9 seconds left, lifting the Raptors to a 101-99 win at Orlando and their 11th straight victory over the Magic.
Oklahoma City stayed in equal eighth in the West by downing Sacramento 116-103, with Russell Westbrook contributing 27 points and 10 assists.
Indiana kept up its playoff push — a game behind Brooklyn and Boston in the East — by winning 107-103 at Detroit, as Rodney Stuckey hit three straight jumpshots late on his way to 24 points.
Milwaukee moved to the brink of a playoff spot by winning 99-91 at New York, as Giannis Antetokounmpo returned to the lineup with 23 points.
The Los Angeles Lakers ended a run of five-straight defeats with a 106-98 win against Minnesota.
Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, front right, drives to the basket against Boston Celtics’ Tyler Zeller, left, during the third quarter of an NBA game on Friday, April 10.