Embiid scores 45 as 76ers top Pacers, pull even in Atlantic
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Joel Embiid had 45 points and 13 rebounds, and the Philadelphia 76ers made a franchise-record 17 3-pointers in the first half of a 131-122 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night that moved them into a tie with Boston atop the Atlantic Division.
Embiid banked in a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer and shot 18 for 30 overall while moving into the NBA scoring lead with 30.4 points per game. He had 27 points and seven rebounds in the first half, helping Philadelphia take control with a 49-point second quarter that led to an 82-59 halftime lead.
Buddy Hield scored 25 points and Tyrese Haliburton had 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Indiana, which has lost a season-worst eight in a row.
SUNS 121, LAKERS 110
PHOENIX (AP) — Devin Booker scored 32 points and Phoenix won its franchise-record 63rd game of the season, beating a Lakers team minus LeBron James to eliminate Los Angeles from the playoff race.
It was a tight game during the first half but Phoenix used a 29-9 run in the third quarter to create separation. The rest of the night was essentially a celebration for the Suns, who danced and dunked their way past the forlorn Lakers.
Playing without James for a second consecutive game because of a sprained ankle, Los Angeles lost its seventh straight. Russell Westbrook scored 28 points while Anthony Davis added 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Deandre Ayton had 22 points for Phoenix (63-16), which avoided its first three-game losing streak this season.
NETS 118, ROCKETS 105
NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 42 points and Brooklyn beat Houston to improve its position in the race for play-in seeding.
Irving had 17 points in the fourth quarter. Kevin Durant added 18 points, Bruce Brown had 15 and Cam Thomas 13 for the Nets. Andre Drummond finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
With Cleveland, Atlanta and Charlotte all losing, the Nets climbed into a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, just 1 1/2 games behind the Cavaliers. The No. 7 seed hosts a game to open the tournament.
Kevin Porter Jr scored a season-high 36 points and Jalen Green added 30 for the Rockets.
RAPTORS 118, HAWKS 108
TORONTO (AP) — Pascal Siakam had 31 points and 13 rebounds, Scottie Barnes added 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Toronto clinched a playoff berth by beating Atlanta.
Chris Boucher scored 18 points, Gary Trent Jr. had 14, Fred VanVleet 12 and Precious Achiuwa 11. Toronto has won 12 of 16. The victory, coupled with Cleveland’s loss at Orlando, ensured the Raptors (46-33) will finish no lower than sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Sixth place is the last guaranteed postseason spot, with teams finishing in the Nos. 7-10 spots headed for the play-in tournament.
Trae Young had 26 points and 15 assists for the Hawks, who lost for the first time in six games and locked themselves into a play-in berth. Atlanta (41-38) and Brooklyn are 1 1/2 games behind seventh-place Cleveland.
JAZZ 121, GRIZZLIES 115, OT
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 21 rebounds, and Utah clinched a playoff berth by beating Memphis in overtime.
Jordan Clarkson also finished with 22 points for the Jazz. Donovan Mitchell added 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Hassan Whiteside had 14 points and 10 boards off the bench.
Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 28 for the Grizzlies. Tyus Jones added 24 points and Desmond Bane had 23 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
Memphis played without its top two scorers. Ja Morant (right knee soreness) and Dillon Brooks (right hip soreness) were both inactive.
BUCKS 127, BULLS 106
CHICAGO (AP) — Brook Lopez scored a season-high 28 points and Milwaukee overcame a rather quiet performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo to clinch its fourth straight Central Division championship with a victory over Chicago.
The defending NBA champion Bucks haven’t been on a run like this since Don Nelson’s teams won seven consecutive division titles in the 1980s.
They took control early and completed a four-game season sweep of Chicago even though DeMar DeRozan scored 40 for the Bulls.
Antetokounmpo, trying to overtake LeBron James and Joel Embiid in a tight race for his first scoring title, finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. But the two-time MVP started slow and spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench after picking up his fifth foul.
Lopez had his best performance after missing most of the season because of a back injury. Khris Middleton scored 19.
PELICANS 123, KINGS 109
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — CJ McCollum and Jaxson Hayes each scored 23 points and New Orleans secured a spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament by beating Sacramento.
Brandon Ingram added 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Pelicans (35-44), who never trailed. New Orleans has won four of five.
Damian Jones had 22 points the Kings, eliminated from playoff contention Sunday for an NBA-record 16th consecutive season.
HEAT 144, HORNETS 115
MIAMI (AP) — Tyler Herro scored 35 points off the bench and Miami moved closer to clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a victory over Charlotte.
Miami won its fifth straight and posted the second-highest point total in franchise history, while the Hornets allowed 144 for the second consecutive game after a 144-112 loss Saturday at Philadelphia.
Jimmy Butler added 27 points, Bam Adebayo had 22 and Duncan Robinson broke out of a recent scoring slump with 21 points for the Heat, who need to win one of their two remaining games to secure the top spot in the East. Robinson shot 7 of 11 on 3-pointers after averaging 5.7 points in his previous six games, including two scoreless outings.
Miami finished 23 of 42 from 3-point range. Herro was 8 of 14 from behind the arc and tied Dwyane Wade’s single-game record for points by a Heat reserve.
Miles Bridges scored 29 points and LaMelo Ball finished with 18 points and 14 assists for Charlotte, which dropped to 10th in the East but has clinched a berth in the play-in tournament.
SPURS 116, NUGGETS 97
DENVER (AP) — Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson each scored 20 points to help San Antonio move closer to securing a spot in the play-in tournament by defeating Denver.
Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic had 41 points and 17 rebounds for the Nuggets, who had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win after Minnesota lost to Washington.
The Spurs had six players score in double figures as they won a regular-season game in Denver for the first time since Jan. 5, 2017. But it wasn’t easy even after San Antonio built a lead that stretched to 21 late in the second quarter.
The Nuggets cut it to four early in the fourth, only to see the Spurs go on a 14-2 surge to regain momentum.
MAGIC 120, CAVALIERS 115
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Mo Bamba had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Ignas Brazdeikis scored 20 off the bench and Orlando beat Cleveland to stop a six-game losing streak.
Moritz Wagner scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter for the Magic.
Darius Garland had 27 points and 10 assists, and Lauri Markkanen added 25 points for the injury-riddled Cavaliers, who have dropped eight of 10 and are locked into the play-in tournament. Cleveland is trying to hold onto seventh place in the Eastern Conference with two regular-season games remaining.
Markelle Fultz finished with 16 points and six assists for Orlando in his first start of the season after returning from a knee injury.
WIZARDS 132, TIMBERWOLVES 114
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kristaps Porzingis scored 25 points, including 12 in the third quarter as Washington took control against Minnesota.
Rui Hachimura tied a season high with 21 points and Daniel Gafford had 24 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for Washington. The Wizards were coming off a 144-102 loss at Boston to open their three-game road trip but have won five of seven.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, while D’Angelo Russell finished with 17 points and 11 assists. The Timberwolves are seventh in the Western Conference, almost out of time to climb above the cut and avoid the play-in tournament with two regular-season games remaining.
THUNDER 98, TRAIL BLAZERS 94
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Jaylen Hoard had career highs of 24 points and 21 rebounds to help Oklahoma City top Portland.
Isaiah Roby had 18 points and a career-high six steals, Georgios Kalaitzakis scored 17 points and Olivier Sarr had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Thunder. Oklahoma City improved to 4-0 against the Trail Blazers this season.
Keon Johnson scored 18 points and Greg Brown III and Ben McLemore each had 17 for Portland, which lost its eighth straight.
The Trail Blazers led 82-67 heading into the fourth quarter, but Oklahoma City held Portland to 12 points on 5-for-19 shooting in the final 12 minutes.
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