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Heat 103, Washington 98
While LeBron James and Dwyane Wade chilled at the end of the bench — and with Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem also out of the lineup — Miami's B-squad set a franchise record for 3-point attempts, broke the franchise record for victories in a season and clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
So, here's the matter for debate. If they can beat Washington — a lottery team trying to finish ninth — how would the what-was-left-over of the Heat rank among all NBA teams?
"Most definitely we would be a playoff team," said Rashard Lewis, who scored 17 points in Wednesday's win. "Probably not a top-three team, but I think anywhere from there we'd be fighting for a playoff spot, just because we've got a lot of veterans on the team, a lot of smart guys on the team that know how to play the game."
Lewis must have been dreaming when he said that. At least that's how Washington's Martell Webster felt.
"Then he woke up, right?" Webster said. "Honestly, no. We should have blown that team out, to tell you the truth."
The Heat committed a season-high 25 turnovers and chucked up the ball AAU-style, shooting 41 3-pointers and making 17. Still, that was enough to get the win that assures they'll finish better than the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs.
The Heat, who have won four straight, also reached 62 wins for the first time, moving one ahead of the 1996-97 team.
"It does mean something to us in that locker room," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We haven't been here before as a franchise. It's a minor thing. We want to keep the main thing, the main thing. But at the same time it is a nice accomplishment.
"The home court, we have it. But we don't want to be afraid of it."
"You can't be afraid of success," Spoelstra said. "We've had a target on our back all year, and in the playoffs, that's the way it should be. ... They had to earn that home court, and so they'll have to prove it when they get there."
Ray Allen scored 23 points, leading five Heat players in double figures. A.J. Price tied a career high with 23 points, and John Wall had 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds for the Wizards, who had won nine straight at home.
James (right hamstring) and Wade (sprained ankle and bruised knee) watched the game looking like two guys sitting at a bus stop, Bosh stayed home and missed a third straight game with flu-like symptoms, and Haslem got the night off because of a sore right ankle.
James played in Tuesday night's 94-83 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, but the Heat are playing it safe with the reigning league MVP.
"Not a setback," Spoelstra said. "Want to make sure he feels right. He was a little bit tight yesterday after the game."
Wade missed his sixth consecutive game. Haslem sat out after recording his first double-double of the season on Tuesday. He said he felt a pain when he planted while chasing a rebound, but he doesn't expect to be sidelined for long.
The absence of the big names gave the game a low-key, exhibition feel. The Heat committed 11 turnovers in the first quarter, yet still had a three-point lead. Miami finished with more 3-pointers (17) than 2-pointers (16).
Neither team led by double digits until the Heat went ahead 98-88 with 2:53 remaining, with a three-point play and a 3-pointer by Allen keying the decisive run.
Lakers 113, Trail Blazers 106
Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 47 points and Los Angeles Lakers closer to a playoff berth with a victory over short-handed Portland.
The Lakers moved a game up on the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Portland, missing the playoffs for the second straight season, has lost nine straight, the most since an 11-game skid in the 2005-06 season. Rookie Damian Lillard led the Blazers with a career-high 38 points.
Pau Gasol had 23 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, while Dwight Howard added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers. Bryant was 18 of 18 from the free throw line.
The Lakers finish the season off with three games at home, all against playoff-bound teams: Golden State, San Antonio and Houston.
Gasol knotted the game at 96 with a layup and a jumper with 7:09 left. After Lillard's 15-footer, Gasol added another jumper to tie it again. His layup gave the Lakers a 102-100 edge before Bryant hit a pair of free throws and added a 23-foot jump shot with 4:09 left to make it 106-100.
Howard's alley-oop dunk from Gasol with 53 seconds left made it 110-104 and all but sealed it.
The deck was stacked from the start against the Blazers, who started four rookies for the first time in the team's history.
Portland was without starters Wesley Matthews (ankle), J.J. Hickson (back) and Nicolas Batum (right shoulder). As a result, two-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge was the only veteran starting with rookie forward Victor Claver, guards Lillard and Will Barton, and center Meyers Leonard.
Nuggets 96, Spurs 86
Wilson Chandler scored 29 points and Corey Brewer had 28 as Denver overcame a slow start to post its franchise-record 21st straight home win.
The Nuggets (54-24) also tied their franchise record for victories in an NBA season, with four games remaining, including two at home, where they improved to a league-best 36-3.
Andre Iguodala recorded a triple-double with 12 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds for the Nuggets, who haven’t lost at home since Jan. 18 against Washington.
They broke the old mark of 20 straight home wins set by Doug Moe’s 1984-85 team.
DeJuan Blair’s three-point play with 1:33 left made it 91-86 but the Spurs didn’t score again. Blair also finished with 17 points.
Point guards Ty Lawson and Tony Parker sat out the showdown, Parker with a sore back and Lawson with an ailing right heel, and their absences were felt when both teams shot just 36 percent in an ugly first half.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he didn’t want to risk playing Parker in light of his team’s injury epidemic.
Popovich revealed that Boris Diaw will miss two to three weeks with a back injury, and Manu Ginobili has missed several games with a strained right hamstring. Parker also has been dealing with a balky left ankle.
Suns 102, Mavericks 91
P.J. Tucker scored 17 points, including two key baskets in the closing minutes, and Phoenix pushed Dallas to the brink of playoff elimination for the first time since 2000.
The Suns blew a 14-point lead in the second quarter and almost did it again in the fourth before hanging on to snap a 10-game losing streak that was their longest in 16 years.
The loss meant a 12-season streak of playoff trips for the Mavericks (38-40) could officially end with a win by the Los Angeles Lakers, who played at Portland later Wednesday.
Goran Dragic led the Suns with 21 points and 13 assists, while Luis Scola had 11 points and a season-high 15 rebounds.
Shawn Marion led the Mavericks with 22 points and nine rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points and Vince Carter had 18.
Hawks 124, 76ers 101
Josh Smith had 28 points and 12 rebounds, John Jenkins added 21 points and Atlanta blitzed Philadelphia.
Mike Scott contributed 17, Al Horford had 16 and Jeff Teague 13 for the Hawks, who snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 43-36.
The Hawks pulled into a tie with the Chicago Bulls for fifth place in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. The Hawks recently clinched their sixth straight playoff berth but were coming off losses to the Sixers, New York Knicks and San Antonio.
Thaddeus Young led the reeling Sixers with 28 points, while Nick Young had 19 off the bench.
Magic 113, Bucks 103 (OT)
Nik Vucevic had a career-high 30 points and 20 rebounds, Tobias Harris added 30 points and 19 rebounds, and Orlando rallied for an overtime victory over Milwaukee.
The Magic overcame a five-point deficit in the final minute of regulation, sending it to OT on a 3-pointer by Harris with 1.9 seconds left. Vucevic and Harris combined for nine points in the extra period to help Orlando snap a five-game losing streak.
Monta Ellis led the Bucks with 21 points, and John Henson and Mike Dunleavy each added 17. Henson also had 25 rebounds for Milwaukee, which lost its 14th straight game in Orlando.
Pistons 111, Cavaliers 104
Andre Drummond scored a career-high 29 points and Detroit won a second straight game for the first time in two months.
Greg Monroe's basket with 38.8 seconds remaining gave Detroit a 105-103 lead and the Pistons, who hadn't won consecutive games since Feb. 8-9, swept the four-game season series from the Cavaliers. Detroit has beaten Cleveland six straight times.
Drummond also grabbed 11 rebounds, while Monroe scored 23 points and Rodney Stuckey added 18.
Kyrie Irving scored 27 points, including 21 in the second half, but missed a 3-pointer that would have given the Cavaliers the lead with 21 seconds left. The All-Star guard was playing on the second night of back-to-back games for the first time since returning from a shoulder injury.
Clippers 111, Timberwolves 95
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul led seven players in double figures with 19 points apiece, and Los Angeles beat Minnesota for its franchise-record 31st home win of the season.
Paul added 11 assists, and Willie Green had 15 points in breaking the old mark of 30 wins by the 1974-75 team, when it was known as the Buffalo Braves. The Clippers improved to 31-9 at home, three days after clinching their first Pacific Division title in franchise history.
Nikola Pekovic scored 20 points and Derrick Williams had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who got swept 4-0 by the Clippers for the first time since 1992-93.
Kings 121, Hornets 110
John Salmons had 22 points, and Jason Thompson and Marcus Thornton each added 20 to help Sacramento snap a four-game losing streak.
The Kings led by 17 at the half and surpassed the 100-point mark early in the fourth quarter when they stretched the lead to 28 points against the struggling Hornets.
The victory halted a season-high five-game home losing streak for the Kings, who have a 20-20 record at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings haven't had a .500 or better home record since the 2007-08 season when they went 26-15.
Isaiah Thomas had 15 points and DeMarcus Cousins 11 for the Kings.
Eric Gordon scored 23 points for the Hornets.