Celtics Bound for Postseason
Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce (34) and Detroit Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko grapple for the loose ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, April 3, 2013, in Boston. The Celtics won 98-93. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Boston — Jeff Green scored 34 points, including a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to snap Boston’s two-minute scoring drought, and the Celtics clinched a playoff berth by beating the Detroit Pistons 98-93 last night.
Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass scored 17 apiece for the Celtics, who had lost two in a row and seven of their previous nine. But the victory, coupled with Philadelphia’s 88-83 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, left Boston 8½ games ahead of the 76ers with eight games to play.
It’s the sixth consecutive season Boston has reached the playoffs since the New Big Three was assembled in the summer of 2007.
Greg Monroe had 24 points and 17 rebounds and Rodney Stuckey scored 22 for the Pistons.
The Celtics led by as many as 18 points before the Pistons scored the final 11 points of the third quarter and opened the fourth with Jonas Jerebko’s three-point play. Boston went into another scoring slump late in the fourth, going 2 minutes, 9 seconds without a point while Detroit cut a 93-87 deficit down to two points.
But Green hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to give Boston a 96-91 lead. After Monroe got free for an easy dunk on an inbounds play, Jason Terry missed; Charlie Villanueva, who went 2 for 17 from the floor and missed all eight 3-point attempts, missed from beyond the arc for Detroit.
Terry made a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left to clinch it.
Knicks 95, Hawks 82
Atlanta — Carmelo Anthony scored 40 points — giving him 90 in two games — and Raymond Felton had three straight baskets in a key spurt, helping New York beat Atlanta for its 10th straight victory.
Anthony, coming off a 50-point effort in a win over Miami on Tuesday, scored 24 points in the first half. He shot 17 of 27 from the field and was 5 for 6 from the free throw line.
Felton sparked a 12-2 run that turned a tie game into an 84-74 lead for the Knicks. He scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter to help the Knicks move into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference.
Nets 113, Cavaliers 95
Cleveland — Deron Williams scored 24 points and Brooklyn ended an eight-game road trip by crushing Cleveland, giving the Nets a record for road wins in a season.
The Nets shot 83 percent (15 of 18) in the second quarter, when they outscored the Cavs 38-16 and opened a 30-point lead without much of a fight. Brooklyn’s 21 road wins are the most for the franchise, which moved to the New York City borough from New Jersey this season.
Milwaukee — Nikola Pekovic scored 27 points and Ricky Rubio added 18 points, 12 assists and eight steals to lead Minnesota past Milwaukee.
Pekovic made 11 of 14 shots from the field and also had eight rebounds. Rubio connected on five of his six attempts from 3-point range for the Timberwolves, who went 8-of-13 from beyond the arc as a team and led most of the game.
Bobcats 88, 76Ers 83
Charlotte, n.c. — Gerald Henderson scored 24 points, Kemba Walker had 17 points, 10 assists and five steals, and Charlotte snapped Philadelphia’s three-game winning streak.
Henderson had a crucial steal late in the game and scored four points in the final minute to help the Bobcats end a three-game skid. Josh McRoberts added 12 points and 16 rebounds for Charlotte.
Raptors 88, Wizards 78
Toronto — Jonas Valanciunas scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Toronto over Washington.
Valanciunas went 16 of 18 at the free throw line and DeMar DeRozan had 25 points for Toronto, which snapped a two-game skid after being eliminated from the playoff chase.
John Wall had 20 points for the short-handed Wizards (28-47), who announced before the game that rookie standout Bradley Beal will miss the remainder of the season with a right leg injury.
The Raptors are second in the NBA in free throw shooting percentage since the All-Star break at 81 percent. They hit 75 percent (27 of 36) against the Wizards.