The Boston Celtics ended nearly a decade of frustration at the hands of the Utah Jazz and inched closer to the Indiana Pacers for the eighth playoff spot in the East.
Paul Pierce scored 12 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics extended their home winning streak to seven games and defeated the Jazz in Boston for the first time since Dec. 20, 1991, with a 103-99 victory.
"We have a few games at home and we have to take care of business," Pierce said. "We can't have a letdown now. We have an opportunity to make and run and we have to take advantage of it."
The Celtics closed within 1 1/2 games of the Pacers, who lost at home to Seattle.
"It was a huge win, whether Indiana lost or not," Celtics head coach Jim O'Brien said.
Pierce hit a career-high 18 free throws including eight in the fourth quarter as the Celtics extended their longest home winning streak since the 1992-93 season.
In addition, it was was the first time the Celtics defeated the Jazz in Boston since Dec. 20, 1991.
"We didn't execute on the defensive end," Jazz forward Karl Malone said. "It's disappointing, but you have to give them credit, they won the ballgame."
Pierce scored eight straight points in the fourth, including four straight free throws to give the Celtics a 99-93 lead.
Trailing 95-92 following a layup by Pierce, Bryon Russell hit the front end of a pair of free throws. Greg Ostertag, who scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Jazz, grabbed the rebound and tipped it to Russell. John Stockton missed a three-pointer and Ostertag missed the putback, leading to Pierce's string of free throws.
"It was a grind-it-out game, and whoever made the big plays down the stretch was going to win the game," Pierce said.
Antoine Walker scored 26 points and Bryant Stith added 14 for Boston.
The lead changed 14 times in the third quarter, with neither team leading by more than four points.
Russell scored 18, Malone added 17 points, and Donyell Marshall and Stockton had 12 apiece for the Jazz, owners of the top mark in the Western Conference who defeated the Celtics soundly in Salt Lake City on Feb. 19, 114-99.
"They have a lot of solid players. There's not a lot a lot of difference between the teams at the top and the teams at the bottom, but it's about attitude," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said.
The Celtics held a 54-50 lead at the break thanks in large part to the shooting of Walker, who was 7-for-8 from the field, including 5-of-5 from three-point land.
76ers 107, Wizards 102
Philadelphia Allen Iverson scored 41 points to make up for his team's lackluster defense as Philadelphia held off Washington. Dikembe Mutombo had 16 rebounds and 14 points, including three key free throws in the final minute after Washington tied the game twice in the fourth quarter and closed to 102-100 with 1:19 left. Richard Hamilton scored a career-high 34 points for Washington, which lost its sixth in a row. Mitch Richmond and Courtney Alexander added 17 points each.
Indianapolis Seattle blew a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter before Rashard Lewis hit back-to-back baskets and the SuperSonics held off Indiana. Lewis finished with 18 points, while Gary Payton led the Sonics with 26 points and 10 assists. The SuperSonics scored just 13 points in the fourth quarter, avoiding a season-low only when Shammond Williams hit two free throws with 14.1 seconds left. Reggie Miller and Jermaine O'Neal missed game-tying three-pointers in the closing seconds.
Raptors 107, Nets 90
Toronto Vince Carter scored 38 points to become the Toronto Raptors' career scoring leader. Carter, who passed former teammate Doug Christie on the scoring list in his third NBA season, gave the Raptors their first four-game winning streak since November. The Raptors outscored the Nets 36-19 in the final quarter to hand New Jersey its 11th straight road loss. Toronto outrebounded New Jersey 54-31.
Hornets 105, Hawks 99
Atlanta Baron Davis scored a career-high 28 points and David Wesley added 17 as the Charlotte Hornets won their sixth straight game. Davis' running five-foot jumper cut Atlanta's lead to 91-89 with 6:19 left, and he followed consecutive three-pointers the last with 4:20 remaining to put Charlotte ahead for good. Toni Kukoc scored a season-high 27 points in a reserve role for the Hawks, who lost their sixth straight.
Magic 120, Cavaliers 94
Orlando, Fla. Tracy McGrady scored 15 of his 36 points in the first quarter, John Amaechi added 16 points and Monty Williams had 15 for the Magic, who are 12-3 in their last 15 games. Andre Miller's 22 points and nine rebounds led the Cavaliers, who lost for the 15th time in 17 games. Chris Gatling scored 14 points before being ejected late in the third quarter for a flagrant foul on Williams.
Heat 97, Pistons 93, OT
Auburn Hills, Mich. Eddie Jones scored eight of his 25 points in the final 1:23 of regulation to help the Miami Heat to a comeback overtime win. Detroit led by 14, 76-62, with less than eight minutes to play, but couldn't hold the lead. The Heat overcame a career-high 36 points from Chucky Atkins.
Bulls 81, Knicks 72
Chicago Elton Brand had 21 points and 11 rebounds as the Chicago Bulls upset the cold-shooting Knicks. Bryce Drew added 15 as the Bulls won only their 10th game of the season. The Knicks shot only 3-of-20 in the fourth quarter. Allan Houston scored a game-high 23 but missed all four of his final-quarter attempts.
Timberwolves 89, Nuggets 71
Denver Kevin Garnett had 24 points and 14 rebounds as Minnesota beat Denver in a matchup of teams fighting for the final playoff spot in the West. The Nuggets had a season-low point total and failed to capitalize on their impressive victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. They fell 5 1/2 games behind the Timberwolves (35-24) for the eighth playoff spot.
Clippers 88, Kings 81
Los Angeles Corey Maggette scored a career-high 23 points, including 11 straight in the fourth quarter, as the Clippers snapped a three-game losing streak. The Clippers beat the Kings for the first time in three meetings this season, including their second in four days.