Jazz into playoffs, Clippers loss gives Lakers division

(Reuters) – The Utah Jazz grabbed the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs with a 100-88 home victory over Phoenix, dashing the Suns’ own post-season hopes on Tuesday.

Blake Griffin

Paul Millsap recorded 26 points and 15 rebounds as the Jazz outpaced Phoenix in the fourth quarter to become the last NBA team to punch their ticket to the playoffs.

With one game remaining, Utah is locked into the number eight seed and will face the top seed San Antonio Spurs in the opening round. The Suns needed a victory to stay alive in the hunt and they led 76-74 early in the fourth before the home team pulled away with an 11-2 run. Steve Nash led Phoenix with 14 points and 11 assists but that was not enough in the end.

In the race for the Pacific, the Los Angeles Lakers were handed the division title after the Clippers went down 109-102 to Atlanta.

Blake Griffin scored 36 points and Chris Paul put up 34 but it was not enough for the Clippers, who are now locked into a first-round matchup against Memphis. “Our effort could have been better,” Griffin told reporters.

“”We just have to forget about it, and turn around and get a win (Wednesday, at New York).” The Clippers are tied in the standings with the Grizzlies but own the tie-breaker. They can clinch home-court in the upcoming series by winning their final contest against the Knicks. In Boston, the Celtics earned a 78-66 win over Miami in a game that missed key players LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Heat side.

Boston played without Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo.

The Celtics are set to face the Hawks in the first round of the East playoffs.

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