Wizards keep Pacers out of playoffs, 117-110

The Baltimore Sun

The Washington Wizards' backups were more than enough to eliminate the very sub-.500 Indiana Pacers from the playoff race, 117-110, last night in Washington.

Wizards coach Eddie Jordan went to his bench early and often, getting 31 points from Roger Mason, 14 from rookie Nick Young and little resistance from the Pacers' defense.

The Wizards, who have won five of six, entered the game with a chance to gain home-court advantage in their coming first-round playoff series against Cleveland. Even so, Washington gave Gilbert Arenas the night off and gave Caron Butler another night to recover from a bruised knee.

And the Cavaliers won in Philadelphia to guarantee finishing ahead of Washington in the Eastern Conference.

With Indiana's loss, the Atlanta Hawks claimed their first playoff berth since 1999, ending the NBA's longest postseason drought.

The Pacers, needing to win their final two games and have Atlanta lose two straight to make the playoffs, trailed from the beginning. Washington's starters frequently gave way to the reserves, who the first five 70-47.

Suns 122, Warriors 116 -- Amare Stoudemire scored 11 of his 28 in the fourth quarter, and host Phoenix recovered after blowing a 17-point lead to eliminate Golden State from playoff contention. Golden State played nearly the entire second half without Baron Davis, who was benched by coach Don Nelson after shooting 2-for-13 in just under 17 minutes.

Cavaliers 91, 76ers 90 -- Devin Brown sank two free throws with 0.2 of a second left -- after host Philadelphia, thinking the game was over, was brought back from the locker room -- to lift Cleveland. The Sixers appeared to have won after Lou Williams hit a fadeaway jumper with 5.1 seconds left -- his second go-ahead basket in the final minute. But Brown was fouled by Samuel Dalembert with the clock near zero. The Sixers thought the game was over and ran off the court while the refs huddled at midcourt to look at the replay.

Spurs 101, Kings 98 -- Tony Parker had a season-tying 32 points and 11 assists as visiting San Antonio clinched the West's third seed.

Jazz 105, Rockets 96 -- Carlos Boozer scored 21 as host Utah pulled even with Houston in the muddled West standings with one game left.

Bulls 151, Bucks 135 -- Luol Deng scored 32 points on 15-for-20 Shooting and Chris Duhon added 22 points and 15 assists as visiting Chicago fell short of the team points record by five. The Bulls shot 67 percent, the highest ever allowed by the Bucks, who lost their seventh in a row.

Raptors 91, Heat 75 -- Rasho Nesterovic scored 20 and host Toronto earned the sixth seed in the East.

Celtics 99, Knicks 93 -- With All-Stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen resting, Rajon Rondo had 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead visiting Boston to victory.

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