Hawks beat Heat to reach playoffs

(The Sports Xchange) ———The Dallas Mavericks qualified for the playoffs with a tense 101-98 points  home victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.

The Mavericks (49-32) are seventh in the Western Conference with one regular season game left.

Phoenix (47-33) still have a chance of catching eight-placed Memphis (47-32), but the loss did not help their cause.

Dallas guard Monta Ellis delivered his best performance of the season, scoring 37 points and the Mavericks rallied from a 13-point deficit in the third quarter.

The Mavs extended the lead to 99-91 with 1:33 to go, but had to sweat it out late as the Suns pulled within one point.

Suns’ forward Marcus Morris missed a three-point attempt to tie the game in the final seconds, and Dallas rebounded and ran out the clock.

By virtue of winning the season series against Phoenix, 2-1, Dallas secured the head-to-head tiebreaker, which they also hold over Memphis.

Dallas had a 12-year playoff streak halted last season.


– – –


Hawks 98, Heat 85


The Atlanta Hawks clinched their seventh straight playoff berth and delivered a blow to the Miami Heat’s hopes of earning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with an impressive home win over the defending champions.

Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague had 25 points, and guard Lou Williams came off the bench to add 23, 18 coming in the fourth quarter, as the Hawks recorded their second consecutive win over the Heat.

A day after beating the Indiana Pacers and moving into first place in the Eastern Conference, the Heat looked sluggish.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade returned to the starting lineup after missing nine games with a strained left hamstring. He hit his first seven field goals and finished with 24 points in 24 minutes.


Miami forward LeBron James had 27 points and eight rebounds.

Miami (54-26) enters their final two games tied with Indiana in the race for the No. 1 seed.

The Hawks (37-43) will be the eighth seed and will face either the Pacers or Heat in the first round of the playoffs.


– – –


Clippers 117, Kings 101


The Los Angeles Clippers overcame a rally by the Sacramento Kings and tied their record for most victories in a season.

The Kings got within two points early in the fourth quarter before Los Angeles pulled away as forward Blake Griffin notched 27 points and nine assists.

The Clippers (56-24) matched their win total of last season and got their team-record 33rd win at home.

They will finish the regular season third in the Western Conference.


– – –


Rockets 111, Pelicans 104


Guards James Harden and Jeremy Lin converted back-to-back driving layups as the Houston Rockets erased a 15-point deficit to beat the New Orleans Pelicans.

Harden supplied the playoff-bound Rockets (53-27) their first lead since the second quarter with 1:04 left as the Rockets closed out with a 15-0 run against the injury-ravaged Pelicans.


– – –


Wizards 104, Bucks 91


Guard Bradley Beal scored 26 points and all five starters scored in double figures as the Washington Wizards ran away from the Milwaukee Bucks in the second half for a home win.

Washington maintained their one game lead over the Charlotte Bobcats for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.


– – –


Bobcats 111, 76ers 105


Center Al Jefferson scored 29 points and the Charlotte Bobcats clamped down defensively in the second half to beat the lowly Philadelphia 76ers at home.

Around the Web