No James? No Issue for Heat
Miami Heat's Chris Andersen, bottom, dunks against Cleveland Cavaliers' Omri Casspi, from Israel, in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 15, 2013, in Cleveland. The Heat won 96-95. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Cleveland (ap) — LeBron James watched from the bench in street clothes as Norris Cole stripped Kyrie Irving of the ball with 2.2 seconds left to give the Miami Heat, resting most of their top players for the playoffs, a 96-95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers last night.
Cole finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. But it was his only steal on Cleveland’s final possession that sealed it.
James was disappointed to not play in another homecoming game against his former team, but he appreciated coach Erik Spoelstra’s desire to get the NBA champions as healthy and refreshed as possible heading into the postseason. Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers joined James on the bench while Dwyane Wade, Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem stayed back in Miami with minor injuries.
Rashard Lewis scored 19 points and James Jones had 14 for the Heat Light.
Irving and Tristan Thompson scored 16 apiece for the Cavs, who have lost five straight, 15 of 17 and may soon relieve Byron Scott of his coaching duties.
Thunder 104, Kings 95
Oklahoma City — Kevin Durant scored 29 points, Russell Westbrook had 21 before getting ejected in the final 3 minutes and Oklahoma City clinched the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs by beating Sacramento.
Tyreke Evans, the Kings’ second-leading scorer, did not return after grabbing at his troublesome left knee following a drive to the basket late in the first quarter.
Durant hit a 3-pointer and Westbrook set up Serge Ibaka for a two-handed slam during a string of 11 straight Thunder points midway through the third quarter that stretched the lead to 75-51.
Nuggets 112, Bucks 111
Milwaukee — Ty Lawson scored 26 points, including a jumper in the lane with 9.3 seconds left, and Denver clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a win over Milwaukee.
Wilson Chandler added 21 points for the Nuggets, who can secure the No. 3 seed in the West with one more victory or two losses by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Pistons 109, Sixers 101
Auburn Hills, Mich. — Greg Monroe had 27 points and 16 rebounds, and Detroit made the most of its home finale by beating Philadelphia.
For both teams, the game was overshadowed by uncertainty off the court. Doug Collins is on his way out as Philadelphia’s coach, and Pistons owner Tom Gores remained noncommittal before the game on the status of team president Joe Dumars and coach Lawrence Frank.
Minneapolis — Al Jefferson had 22 points and eight rebounds to help Utah keep its playoff hopes alive with a victory over Minnesota.
Mo Williams had 15 points and seven assists for the Jazz, who needed a win to avoid being eliminated in the Western Conference playoff race.
Dallas — Keyon Dooling scored 13 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer before consecutive baskets by Ed Davis, and Memphis rallied to keep alive its chance of hosting a first-round playoff series.
Jerryd Bayless had 19 points and the Grizzlies’ bench accounted for 64 points — all 35 in the decisive fourth quarter. Dooling, who signed April 3 as a free agent, had only 12 points combined his first five games.
Bulls 102, Magic 84
Orlando, Fla. — Carlos Boozer scored 22 points, Luol Deng added 18 and Chicago snapped a two-game losing streak.
The win, which was the Bulls’ fifth straight over the Magic, also keeps alive their hopes of catching of Atlanta for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. They conclude their regular-season schedule at home Wednesday against Washington. Chicago needs to win that game and for Atlanta to split or lose their final two.
Bobcats 106, Knicks 95
Charlotte, n.c. — Gerald Henderson scored 27 points, Kemba Walker had 23 points and a career-high 13 assists and Charlotte defeated a New York team playing without Carmelo Anthony and a few others.
Nets 106, Wizards 101
New York — Andray Blatche led a bevy of Brooklyn bench players with 20 points and 11 rebounds the Nets erased an early 17-point deficit to beat Washington.
Kris Humphries, who was the team’s original starting power forward at the beginning of the season before falling out of the rotation, added 20 points and nine boards for Brooklyn. Mirza Teletovic added 14 points and MarShon Brooks chipped in 12 for the Nets, who will host Detroit on Wednesday night before they open up at home in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Nets reserve rookie Toko Shengelia, who has played 67 minutes all season, saw 25 minutes and finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
John Wall led Washington, which lost its fifth straight, with 18 points and 12 assists.