Hawks 97, Celtics 92
Joe Johnson scored 30 points, and Atlanta edged the short-handed Boston Celtics Friday night to take a step toward landing homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Hawks (38-25) are in line to be the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, and Celtics (37-27) are on track to be No. 5. This, however, looked nothing like a playoff game early.
Both teams shot over 50 percent and Atlanta took a 58-49 halftime lead while Boston guard Avery Bradley scored 17 of his career-high 28 points.
Boston left Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus at home with injuries, and perennial All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce made the trip to Atlanta but Celtics coach Doc Rivers rested both stars after playing 11 games in 15 days.
Even without five players who either start or play big minutes, the Celtics pulled within one point five times in the fourth quarter.
Johnson's three-point play with 1:56 left gave Atlanta a 90-86 lead, and the Hawks held on for their first win in three games against Boston. Josh Smith had 19 points and 12 rebounds for Atlanta, and Keyon Dooling scored 17 points for the Celtics.
The Hawks lost a home game earlier this season when Miami Heat stars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James did not play, and there was danger of a repeat Friday, especially when Dooling scored on a layup with 2:33 left to close the deficit to 87-86. Johnson's three-point play came moments later.
If the teams finish with the same record, Boston would be considered the fourth seed by virtue of being a division champion. Plus, the Celtics beat the Hawks in two of three regular-season meetings.
Should Atlanta finish with a better record that would supersede Boston's division title in determining home court in a head-to-head playoff matchup.
Cavaliers 98, Knicks 90
Amare Stoudemire's return from a back injury didn't help the playoff-bound New York Knicks, who were stunned by Cleveland.
Stoudemire had missed New York's previous 13 games with a bulging disk. But even with him in the lineup, the Knicks couldn't handle the Cavs, who snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the fourth time in 19 games.
Stoudemire finished with 15 points and Carmelo Anthony had 12 before sitting out the fourth quarter.
Manny Harris had 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds to lead the Cavs, and rookie Kyrie Irving scored 21 points in his second game back from a shoulder injury. Samardo Samuels added 15 points for Cleveland.
Harris banked in a desperation 3-pointer from near half-court as the 24-second shot clock expired in the fourth quarter to keep Cleveland comfortably ahead.
The Knicks wrapped up a playoff spot on Thursday night, clinching when Milwaukee lost.
One day later, New York hardly looked ready for the postseason.
Stoudemire was in foul trouble in the first 5 minutes and never got into a groove. Anthony, who has had to carry the scoring load with his frontcourt mate out, went just 5 of 13 from the field in 29 uninspired minutes.
The Knicks didn't wake up until the final minutes when they cut a 19-point deficit to eight on two free throws by Stoudemire with 2:33 left.
New York had a chance to get closer, but Toney Douglas made a silly pass for a turnover and JR Smith then fouled Harris on a 3-point miss. Harris knocked down two free throws and Cleveland's Donald Sloan drove past four Knicks standing like statues for an easy layup to put the Cavs ahead 96-82. Earlier Friday, Cleveland decided to shut down center Anderson Varejao for the last five games because he's still bothered by soreness in the right wrist he broke in February.
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