Magic win clinches playoff spot
On the board in the Orlando Magic locker room, the first of six season goals marked down is to make the playoffs.
Time to check that one off.
Tony Battie had 18 points and eight rebounds, and the Magic got a big boost from the bench to clinch a playoff spot with a 107-79 win over the Chicago Bulls last night in Orlando, Fla.
"Not that it's been in doubt for any time, but I'm one of those until you do it, it's not done," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said of making the postseason berth official. "The first goal on our board. That part is done. You know you're going to be playing when the season is done. Quite honestly, it's a good feeling."
J.J. Redick had 13 points, and Marcin Gortat added 13 points and 15 rebounds in reserve for the Magic, who have won five of their last six games and moved closer to taking another Southeast Division title.
They'll need to make some big steps to reach any of their other five goals: win the division, clinch homecourt, win 60 games, have the East's top record and be playing at their best when the playoffs start.
Getting performances from their big men like they did against the Bulls was a good start.
"It was a strong night for the bigs," said the 33-year old Battie.
John Salmons had 18 points and eight rebounds, and Brad Miller added 11 points for Chicago, which shot a mere 31.4 percent from the floor and had 16 turnovers.
Lakers 102, Rockets 96 - Kobe Bryant scored 18 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, winning a contentious duel with Ron Artest, and Los Angeles ended Houston's 12-game home winning streak.
Pau Gasol scored 20 points and Josh Powell added 17 for the Lakers, who overcame the absence of Lamar Odom to snap a three-game road losing streak. Odom, the Lakers' second-leading rebounder, served a one-game suspension for leaving the bench during an altercation in Monday's loss to Portland.
Hawks 100, Jazz 93 - Joe Johnson scored 31 points and Josh Smith had 22 points and 12 rebounds to help host Atlanta end Utah's 12-game winning streak.
The Hawks, who ended Cleveland's 11-game winning streak Dec. 13, led until Mehmet Okur's straightaway 3-pointer put Utah up, 62-60, at the 4:44 mark of the third quarter. Atlanta has won three straight.
Knicks 116, Pistons 111 - Reserve Nate Robinson scored 30 points to help New York rally for an overtime victory in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Antonio McDyess had 21 points and a career-high 22 rebounds - Detroit's first 20-20 game in over 11 years - but it wasn't enough to overcome the absence of Rasheed Wallace (calf) and Allen Iverson (back).
Hornets 109, Wizards 98 - Taking over the game when he wanted to, Chris Paul compiled his NBA-leading sixth triple-double with 30 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds, steering New Orleans to victory in Washington.
76ers 115, Raptors 106 - Thaddeus Young scored a career-high 29 points, Samuel Dalembert snapped out of his recent slump for 19 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocked shots, and host Philadelphia handed Toronto its sixth straight loss.
Nuggets 112, Thunder 99 - Host Denver snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory over Oklahoma City that was fueled by Renaldo Balkman, who made the most of a rare start with 14 points and 14 rebounds for his first double-double since Feb. 1, 2008, when he was with the Knicks.
Mavericks 93, Trail Blazers 89 - Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points and 10 rebounds and Jason Terry scored 24 points as Dallas won in Portland.
Timberwolves 104, Grizzlies 79 - Rookie Kevin Love had 19 points, 11 rebounds, and a career-high 4 assists, and Minnesota snapped a 10-game losing streak with a victory over visiting Memphis.
Warriors 116, Nets 112 - Stephen Jackson scored 29 points and Golden State rallied past New Jersey in Oakland, Calif., snapping a three-game losing streak.