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Archive for Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Heat clinch top seed in East

Wade matches career-high with 39 points in win

April 6, 2005

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— Cross another item off Miami's to-do list. The Heat have wrapped up home-court advantage for the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Dwyane Wade matched a career-high with 39 points to help offset the absence of Shaquille O'Neal and lift the Heat to a 104-86 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night -- a win that assured Miami the No. 1 seed for the East playoffs.

And never before has a Heat team enjoyed such home dominance. Miami's franchise-record home winning streak is now 18 games; the Heat have held double-digit leads in all but one of those. Tuesday's largest lead was 23 -- against a Bulls team that came in with a nine-game winning streak.

Miami led by 14 after one quarter and 20 at the half, even though their 7-foot-1, 327-pound center was home, fending off a stomach ailment that ravaged him the prior two days.

"The only thing we're going to be judged on is the playoffs. Fine; that's the nature of the business," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. "But it's a long season, and you've got to take some pride in the accomplishments along the way. ... To play 82 games better than anybody in your conference is a heck of an accomplishment."

Pacers 97, Knicks 79

New York -- Stephen Jackson scored 33 points on his 27th birthday, and Indiana beat New York despite poor shooting from Reggie Miller in his final appearance at Madison Square Garden. Miller, who plans to retire, long has tormented the Knicks and their fans -- most notably film director Spike Lee -- with his clutch play in crucial games at the Garden. This time, however, he was 3-for-15 and finished with 13 points.

Clippers 104, Bobcats 102

Charlotte, N.C. -- Shaun Livingston made a layup with one second to play, and Los Angeles handed the Bobcats their fifth final-shot loss of the season. Corey Maggette had 34 points to lead the Clippers, and Elton Brand had 27 points and 10 rebounds.

Celtics 116, Wizards 108

Washington -- Boston blew a 16-point lead, but made all 17 of its free throws in the final quarter and beat the Wizards behind 25 points from Paul Pierce and 21 from Raef LaFrentz, both former Kansas University standouts.

Hornets 96, Hawks 86

Atlanta -- Lee Nailon scored 19 points, and New Orleans extended Atlanta's losing streak to 13 games. The Hornets snapped a five-game road losing streak despite not having a starter score in double figures.

Nets 111, Cavaliers 80

Cleveland -- Vince Carter scored 27 points, and New Jersey continued its push for a playoff berth. Nenad Krstic scored 18 points, and Jason Kidd had 13 points and 12 assists for the Nets.

Mavericks 114, Magic 105

Dallas -- Erick Dampier scored 16 points in his first start since returning from a long stay on the injured list.

DeShawn Stevenson scored a career-high 29 points, but Orlando fell 11/2 games behind Philadelphia for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and a half-game behind New Jersey.

Nuggets 94, Grizzlies 91

Memphis, Tenn. -- Carmelo Anthony had 24 points, and Kenyon Martin 20 as Denver took over seventh place in the Western Conference playoff race. The victory put the Nuggets at 42-31 on the season. Eighth-place Memphis is 41-32. Denver also got 18 points from Andre Miller.

Jazz 90, Trail Blazers 79

Salt Lake City -- Matt Harpring had 17 points and seven rebounds, and Utah ended a three-game losing streak. Reserves Ben Handlogten and Kris Humphries each added 11 points, and the Jazz held off the short-handed Blazers, who had just nine players because of injuries.

Suns 125, Lakers 99

Phoenix -- Quentin Richardson led Phoenix's record-setting three-point barrage with seven, and the Suns knocked the defending Western Conference champion Lakers out of the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. The Lakers, with Kobe Bryant resting his injured right leg, lost for the 12th time in 13 games.

Kings 122, SuperSonics 101

Sacramento, Calif. -- Peja Stojakovic scored 24 points, and Cuttino Mobley had 21 for the Kings. Kenny Thomas scored 20 points, and Mike Bibby had 15 points and 10 assists as the Kings made a season-high 58.8 percent of their shots. They also prevented the Sonics from clinching the Northwest Division title while scoring more points than any of Seattle's opponents this season.

Warriors 122, Rockets 117

Oakland, Calif. -- Baron Davis scored 17 of his career-high 40 points in the third quarter, and finished with 13 assists as Golden State earned its season-high sixth straight victory.

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