Leads way with 27
Carlos Boozer had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a 93-82 win over the Cavaliers last night in Cleveland.
Chicago, which has won six straight and 18 of 20, will have homecourt advantage through the first three rounds of the playoffs. The Bulls hadn’t finished with the best record in the the East since 1997-98, the most recent of their six NBA titles in the Michael Jordan era.
The Bulls, winners of five in a row and nine of 10 on the road, had six players score in double figures. Ronnie Brewer had 12 points while Derrick Rose added 11 points and eight assists. Joakim Noah scored 11 points and Luol Deng and Kyle Korver had 10 points apiece.
Rose, a leading candidate for the league’s Most Valuable Player Award, gives first-year coach Tom Thibodeau all the credit.
“Tibbs, man, is the coach of the year to me,’’ he said of the former longtime Celtics assistant. “He’s been honest, holding everyone accountable, every time we step on the court.’’
J.J. Hickson led Cleveland with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Daniel Gibson scored 14 points while Ramon Sessions added 13.
Grizzlies 101, Kings 96 — Zach Randolph had 27 points and 15 rebounds and host Memphis clinched the Western Conference’s final playoff spot with a win over Sacramento.
Randolph’s two free throws with 4.8 seconds left sealed the victory for the Grizzlies, who head to the postseason for the first time since the 2005-06 season. The victory eliminated Houston from the playoff chase.
Thunder 104, Nuggets 89 — Kevin Durant scored 28 points, Russell Westbrook added 17, and Oklahoma City beat visiting Denver for its second win this week over its potential first-round playoff opponent.
Nene had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the Nuggets and also got into a confrontation with the Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins for the second time in as many games. Perkins ended up with Nene nearly in a headlock after fouling him midway through the fourth quarter, and Nene responded by shoving Perkins to get out of it. Both got whistled for technical fouls.
Knicks 116, Nets 93 — Carmelo Anthony had 25 points and 14 rebounds, and New York ended a franchise-worst streak of nine straight losing seasons by beating host New Jersey for its sixth consecutive victory.
Chauncey Billups added 22 points for the Knicks, who played without Amar’e Stoudemire (sprained left ankle) but didn’t need him against a Nets team that was playing without injured starters Deron Williams and Kris Humphries. New York remained in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and completed its first season sweep of the Nets since the shortened 1999 season.
76ers 98, Raptors 93 — Elton Brand scored 22 points, Thaddeus Young had 20, and host Philadelphia snapped a three-game losing streak.
Andre Iguodala scored 16 points for the Sixers, who remained a half-game behind New York in the East. With 41 wins and two games left, the Sixers can finish with a winning record for the first time since 2004-05.
Trail Blazers 93, Lakers 86 — LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and host Portland prevented Los Angeles from locking up the second seed in the Western Conference.
Kobe Bryant had 24 points in the Lakers’ fourth straight loss.
Hornets 109, Suns 97 — Willie Green hit his first 12 shots and finished with a season-high 31 points to lead host New Orleans over Phoenix.
Heat 112, Bobcats 103 — Chris Bosh scored 27 points and Dwyane Wade returned from injury to score 27 more, and host Miami held off Charlotte.
Pacers 114, Hawks 102 — Danny Granger scored 28 points to get host Indiana past Atlanta.
Pistons 110, Bucks 100 — Chris Wilcox scored a season-high 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to pace host Detroit.
Mavericks 107, Clippers 96 — Corey Brewer took advantage of a rare start by scoring 20 points and Peja Stojakovic scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, boosting host Dallas.