Battered Boston Bettered
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko (47), of Russia, is fouled by Boston Celtics forward Shavlik Randolph, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 1, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Genevieve Ross)
Minneapolis — Nikola Pekovic bruised and battered the overmatched Boston front line for 29 points to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 110-100 victory over the Celtics last night.
Andrei Kirilenko had 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and Dante Cunningham scored 19 points off the bench for the Wolves, who delivered coach Rick Adelman his 998th career victory.
Avery Bradley scored 19 points for Boston, which was playing without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The Celtics, who started the day 2½ games ahead of eight-seeded Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference playoff race, have lost seven of their last nine games.
This one snapped an 11-game winning streak against the Wolves, who beat Boston for the first time since Garnett was traded there in 2007.
Jeff Green had a quiet night with just 10 points and seven rebounds, while Jason Terry and Terrence Williams each scored 14 points for Boston, which was a step slow on the second night of a back-to-back.
Pistons 108, Raptors 98
Toronto — Greg Monroe scored 24 points, Jose Calderon had 19 points and nine assists against his former team, and Detroit snapped a three-game losing streak by beating Toronto.
Rodney Stuckey scored 18 points, Jonas Jerebko had 10 of his 15 in the fourth quarter and rookie Khris Middleton added 11 as the Pistons won for just the third time in 19 games.
Cavaliers 102, Hawks 94
Atlanta — Devin Harris scored a season-high 25 points and Josh Smith nearly added a triple-double as Atlanta beat Cleveland to improve its chances of securing home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Smith had 18 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists before a sparse crowd in Philips Arena to help the Hawks (42-33) pull within one game of Brooklyn (42-31) for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Reserve Marreese Speights scored 14 of his 22 in the final quarter, but the Cavs (22-51) did not seriously threaten after pulling within 58-56 early in the third period.
Rockets 111, Magic 103
Houston — Omer Asik matched his career high with 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, and Houston beat Orlando without James Harden and Chandler Parsons.
Jeremy Lin had 19 points and 11 assists, and Francisco Garcia had 14 points, five assists and three blocks for the Rockets, who hardly missed their top two scorers until Orlando made a late run. Harden sat out for the second straight game with a sore right foot and Parsons missed the game with an illness.
Grizzlies 92, Spurs 90
Memphis, Tenn. — Mike Conley drove for a layup with 0.6 seconds left, and Memphis beat San Antonio for its third straight victory.
The Grizzlies matched their franchise record with their 50th win this season, and they won their 12th straight at home. They pulled out a win in a game where Conley’s bucket gave them their first lead since 18-16 late in the first quarter.
Bucks 131, Bobcats 102
Milwaukee — Larry Sanders had a career-high 24 points and 13 rebounds as Milwaukee cruised to a victory over Charlotte.
Monta Ellis had 19 points, a career-high 14 assists and six steals to help Milwaukee pull 1 1/2 games behind seventh-place Boston in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Celtics lost to Minnesota on Monday. Ersan Ilyasova added 22 points for the Bucks, J.J. Redick scored 20, and Brandon Jennings 19.
Milwaukee, which had lost five of six, remained solidly in the eighth position in the East, with a six-game lead over idle Philadelphia.
Kemba Walker scored 27 points to lead the Bobcats, and Gerald Henderson had 17.