Mickael Pietrus scored all 12 of his points in the fourth quarter and Jameer Nelson hit a big 3-pointer in the closing minutes yesterday, leading the visiting Orlando Magic to a 98-92 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who rested LeBron James for the playoffs.
Pietrus was a matchup nightmare in the playoffs last season for Cleveland, averaging 13.9 points in the Eastern Conference finals when the Magic beat the Cavaliers in six games. He made a pair of threes to open the fourth and Nelson hit his with 2:53 left to put Orlando ahead, 96-88.
Dwight Howard scored 22 points with 13 rebounds and 6 blocks for Orlando.
Delonte West had 21 points and Mo Williams had 19 with nine assists for the Cavaliers, who finished the regular season 35-6 at home.
Cleveland coach Mike Brown sat James for a third straight game, giving the reigning MVP additional rest before the postseason. James watched from the bench with Shaquille O’Neal, who has been out since tearing a thumb ligament Feb. 25 and hasn’t been cleared by doctors to play. Cleveland anticipates having him in the postseason.
Orlando, which has wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the East, can still beat out the Lakers for the No. 2 overall record, which would give the Magic homecourt advantage if the teams meet in the NBA Finals for the second straight year.
Bulls 104, Raptors 88 — Derrick Rose scored 26 points, Joakim Noah had 18 points, 19 rebounds, and 7 assists, and Chicago beat host Toronto to take a one-game lead over the Raptors for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Luol Deng scored 14 points, Taj Gibson had 11, and Ronald Murray and Hakim Warrick each scored 10 for the Bulls. Chicago has won 8 of 12 since Noah returned from a foot injury that forced him to miss 10 games. The Bulls went 0-10 without him.
Heat 111, Knicks 98 — Dwyane Wade scored 32 points and visiting Miami pulled into a tie for fifth in the Eastern Conference with a victory over New York.
Michael Beasley added 16 points, and Udonis Haslem and ex-Knick Quentin Richardson had 14 apiece for the Heat, who won for the 10th time in 11 games and joined Milwaukee at 45-35.
David Lee scored 26 points for the Knicks, who dropped all three meetings to the Heat this season.
Trail Blazers 91, Lakers 88 — Martell Webster hit three free throws with 3.1 seconds left as Portland improved its chances of avoiding host Los Angeles in the playoffs.
Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher combined to miss three free throws in the final 6.9 seconds, and Pau Gasol missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the Lakers, the top seed in the Western Conference despite losing 6 of 9 games.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who lost leading scorer Brandon Roy at halftime with a sore right knee.
Gasol had 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, while Bryant had 20 points.
Warriors 120, Thunder 117 — Monta Ellis scored 27 points and Stephen Curry added 25 as Golden State overcame a 20-point deficit to beat visiting Oklahoma City.
Kevin Durant had 40 points for the Thunder, but missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with a second left.
Suns 116, Rockets 106 — Amare Stoudemire had 35 points and 13 rebounds as host Phoenix beat Houston.
The win moved Phoenix into a tie with Utah and Denver for the third playoff spot in the West, a game behind Dallas.
Hornets 114, Timberwolves 86 — Emeka Okafor scored 23 points and host New Orleans snapped a five-game skid with a victory over Minnesota.