Bulls are playoff bound
By The Associated Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Chicago Bulls clinched the NBA’s last unclaimed playoff spot on Wednesday night, as Derrick Rose scored 27 points and Joakim Noah added 21 points and 13 rebounds in a 98-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bulls closed the regular season with a three-game winning streak to beat out Toronto for the right to face Eastern Conference top seed Cleveland.
Needing a win or a Raptors loss to New York to get in, the Bulls quickly took it to the Bobcats, never trailing and leading by as many as 18 points.
Tyrus Thomas scored 16 for the Bobcats, who had already locked up the seventh seed in the East and a first-round matchup with Orlando.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Kevin Durant scored 31 points to finish the season as the youngest scoring champion in NBA history, and Oklahoma City survived a sloppy second half.
The 21-year-old Durant finished with an average of 30.1 points, 0.4 ahead of LeBron James, and supplanted 22-year-old Max Zaslofsky of the 1947-48 Chicago Stags as the youngest scoring champ in NBA history.
The Thunder let most of a 27-point lead dwindle away before closing out their 50th win of the season. They will meet the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
Raptors 131, Knicks 113
TORONTO – DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 24 points and Andrea Bargnani also scored 24 for Toronto, which owned the tiebreaker with Chicago and would have earned the No. 8 seed had the teams finished with the same record.
Mavericks 96, Spurs 89
DALLAS – Jason Kidd and Jason Terry led a 16-2 run at the end of the first quarter, putting the Dallas Mavericks ahead for good and setting up a first-round playoff matchup between these teams.
BUCKS 106, CELTICS 95
BOSTON – Jerry Stackhouse and Luke Ridnour scored 17 points apiece, and the Milwaukee Bucks won their regular-season finale as Boston rested its Big Three in preparation for the playoffs.
With Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen sitting out to avoid possible injury, the lack of defense and excitement had spectators moving toward the exits midway through the fourth quarter.
Rajon Rondo had 21 points and 15 assists for the Celtics, who lost for the seventh time in 10 games.
Magic 125, 76ers 111
ORLANDO, Fla. – Jameer Nelson had 21 points, Vince Carter scored 17 and Orlando broke the single-season record for 3-pointers made in a season.
Dwight Howard added 15 points and 12 rebounds to help the Magic finish with 841 from beyond the arc and the NBA’s second-best record.
Marreese Speights’ 23 points capped a sorry Sixers season and perhaps the last game in Eddie Jordan’s tenure as coach. The Sixers ended with a 27-55 record and have an offseason of big decisions ahead.
Hawks 99, Cavaliers 83
ATLANTA – In what turned out to be nothing more than an exhibition game, rookie Jeff Teague set career highs with 24 points and 15 assists as Atlanta cruised past the LeBron James-less Cavaliers.
James finished up his end-of-the-season break, and the Cavaliers also gave Shaquille O’Neal the night off even though he hasn’t played since going out Feb. 25 with a sprained right thumb. At the other end of the court, Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford watched in street clothes; the Hawks played only one regular starter, Marvin Williams.
Heat 94, Nets 86, 2OT
MIAMI – Michael Beasley had 25 points and 13 rebounds, Mario Chalmers scored 15 points and Miami wrapped up the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Nets became just the fifth team in NBA history to lose 70 games.
Wizards 98, Pacers 97
WASHINGTON – Andray Blatche scored 26 points as Washington beat Indiana in a season-ending game for a pair of lottery-bound teams.
Rookie Cedric Jackson made a 3-pointer with 1:31 to play to give the Wizards the lead, and the scoreboard didn’t budge the rest of the way. Danny Granger missed a 15-footer at the buzzer that would have given the Pacers the win.
Jackson, who has spent the season living off 10-day contracts with three different teams, scored all of his career-high eight points in the final 5 1/2 minutes for the Wizards.
Roy Hibbert scored a career-high 29 points for the Pacers, who finished the season out of the playoffs with a win total in the 30s for the fourth straight year.
Pistons 103, Timberwolves 98
MINNEAPOLIS – Charlie Villanueva scored 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to rally Detroit past Minnesota.
Tayshaun Prince added 20 points for the Pistons, who trailed by 16 points in the third quarter.
Corey Brewer had 27 points and Al Jefferson had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves (15-67), who lost 29 of their final 31 games of the season to tie the franchise record for fewest victories in a season.
HOUSTON – David West had 35 points and 10 rebounds, and rookie Darren Collison added 26 points and 11 assists to lead New Orleans.
Marcus Thornton scored 20 points for the Hornets, who won for the second time in their final 14 road games. New Orleans won for just the sixth time in its last 23 games overall, and will sit out the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Trevor Ariza recorded his first career triple-double – 26 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists – for the Rockets, who will miss the playoffs with a winning record (42-40) for the fourth time.
Trail Blazers 116
PORTLAND, Ore. – Stephen Curry scored 42 points and Golden State finished its season with victory over playoff-bound Portland.
The injury-depleted Trail Blazers finished as the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference and will face the third-seeded Phoenix in the first round. The Suns defeated the Utah Jazz 100-86.
Rookie Jeff Pendergraph led the Blazers with 23 points.
Portland without forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who was hospitalized the night before with a gastrointestinal virus. It is not expected the virus will keep Aldridge out of the playoffs.
Clippers 107, Lakers 91
LOS ANGELES – Steve Blake scored 23 points as part of his first career triple-double, Chris Kaman added 22 points and the Clippers ended their season by beating the Lakers.
Blake finished with 10 rebounds and 11 assists for the Clippers, who ended with a 29-53 record to miss the postseason for the 15th time in 17 years.
Suns 100, Jazz 86
SALT LAKE CITY – Steve Nash had 11 assists in just three quarters, Amare Stoudemire finished with 20 points and seven rebounds, and Phoenix earned the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
The Jazz finish fifth in the West and will open the playoffs at Denver, which claimed the Northwest Division with and No. 4 seed by holding the tiebreaker over Utah.
Deron Williams led Utah with 24 points and Mehmet Okur finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.