Dwight Howard had 18 points and 17 rebounds, Jameer Nelson scored 17, and the Magic beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 78-72, last night in Orlando.
Coupled with Atlanta’s 97-90 loss to San Antonio, the Magic clinched the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Orlando won three of four in the season series to improve to 16-5 in its last 21 meetings against the Bucks.
Orlando shot just 38 percent, including a stretch of 19 straight misses from the 3-point line.
Milwaukee’s dwindling playoff hopes took a big hit. Entering yesterday, any combination of two Bucks losses or victories by idle Indiana eliminated them from postseason contention. Milwaukee could be officially eliminated tonight if it loses at Miami.
Drew Gooden scored 18 points for the Bucks.
Jazz 86, Lakers 85 — Rookie Gordon Hayward scored a career-high 22 points and hit the go-ahead free throw with six seconds to play and Utah snapped an eight-game losing streak with a victory over the sleepwalking Lakers at Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant scored 20 points and hit a tying 3-pointer with 16 seconds left, but fumbled the ball away on an ill-conceived drive at the buzzer.
With their second straight loss following a 17-1 stretch, the Lakers might have lost the chance to catch San Antonio atop the Western Conference standings. The Spurs have a 3 1/2-game lead with five games left for Los Angeles.
Spurs 97, Hawks 90 — Tony Parker scored 26 points and San Antonio moved closer to home-court advantage in the playoffs by ending a four-game road losing streak.
Manu Ginobili had 18 points and Tim Duncan 17 for the Spurs, who had been 0-6 on the road against Eastern Conference teams that have clinched playoff berths.
Knicks 131, Raptors 118 — Toney Douglas scored 28 points, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire each added 23, and host New York closed within a half-game of sixth place in the East by routing Toronto for its fourth straight victory.
Chauncey Billups had 13 points and nine assists for the Knicks, who can move ahead of the 76ers for the No. 6 seed when they travel to Philadelphia tonight.
Bulls 97, Suns 94 — Derrick Rose finished with 19 points, Luol Deng scored 18, and Chicago continued to close in on the top seed in the East, hanging on to beat visiting Phoenix.
The Bulls lead Miami and Boston by three games, with the Celtics visiting tomorrow.
Chicago led by 13 at the half and 22 in the third, only to see Phoenix whittle it to 2 in the fourth quarter, before pulling out its 16th win in 18 games.
Clippers 82, Grizzlies 81 — Mo Williams scored 16 points and keyed a fourth-quarter rally and visiting Los Angeles snapped Memphis’s four-game winning streak.
Williams had 9 points in the final period, including 6 straight in the final 1:49 to give Los Angeles enough of a buffer for the victory.
The Clippers won despite a wild ending that saw them run out the clock after a jump ball with 5.7 seconds left.
Thunder 101, Nuggets 94 — Kevin Durant scored 32 points and Oklahoma City won in Denver in a possible first-round playoff preview.
Russell Westbrook added 18 points and James Harden 13 as the Thunder all but secured home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
They built a four-game lead over the Nuggets with five games left, including a rematch Friday night in Oklahoma City.
Warriors 108, Trail Blazers 87 — David Lee had 29 points and a season-high 20 rebounds and visiting Golden State beat Portland, which still secured a playoff spot when Houston lost to Sacramento.
Monta Ellis added 30 points for the Warriors, who led by as many as 26 points.
Kings 104, Rockets 101 — Marcus Thornton and Samuel Dalembert scored 21 points apiece, Dalembert and DeMarcus Cousins each grabbed 15 rebounds, and Sacramento won in Houston.
Kevin Martin scored 30 for the Rockets, who blew a big chance to gain ground on Memphis in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
Cavaliers 99, Bobcats 89 — Ramon Sessions scored 18 points to pace seven players in double figures, leading host Cleveland over injury-depleted Charlotte, a loss that hurt its playoff chances.
Nets 107, Timberwolves 105 — Deron Williams capped a career-tying 21-assist performance by hitting the winning jumper with 1.7 seconds to play to lead host New Jersey over Minnesota.
Wizards 107, Pistons 105 — John Wall scored 16 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, and host Washington had its first three-game winning streak since 2008 after defeating Detroit.