Wizards drop fifth straight, make postseason anyway

Associated Press • Apr 11, 2007 at 12:21 PM

WASHINGTON - Jason Kidd's first basket of the game, a tip-in of a missed layup, gave the New Jersey Nets the lead for good with 30 seconds to play Tuesday night in a 96-92 victory over the Washington Wizards, who lost their fifth straight yet finally managed to clinch a playoff spot.

Richard Jefferson scored a season-high 35 points, Vince Carter had 31, and Kidd finished with four points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists as the Nets pulled within two games of the sixth-place Wizards in the Eastern Conference.

Antawn Jamison, the only one of the Washington's Big Three still standing, had 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Wizards, who nevertheless earned their third straight playoff berth with Indiana's 90-86 loss to Philadelphia. The Wizards' magic number had been stuck at one since last Wednesday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Gerald Wallace had 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead Charlotte to its second win in three days over injury-plagued and turmoil-filled Miami.

Miami dropped three games behind idle Toronto with four games left in the race for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Dwyane Wade, in his second game back after missing six weeks with a separated shoulder, scored 14 points and Antoine Walker had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Heat, but they got little help. Miami played without Shaquille O'Neal, Udonis Haslem and Gary Payton, while James Posey was ineffective a day after he was arrested on a DUI charge.

Walter Herrmann added 20 points and Derek Anderson, a member of the Heat's championship team who wasn't re-signed in the offseason, scored 17 for the lottery-bound Bobcats, who built a 24-point third-quarter lead and cruised to their sixth win in eight games.

Also Tuesday, Bobcats forward Adam Morrison was fined $25,000 by the NBA for making an obscene gesture to fans during Sunday's game in Miami.

PHILADELPHIA - Andre Miller had 19 points and 11 assists, and shorthanded Philadelphia dealt Indiana a huge blow to its playoff hopes.

Jermaine O'Neal, playing with a sore left knee and ankle, missed his first seven shots and finished with 21 points on a woeful 7-for-22 shooting. Indiana fell two games behind Orlando for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race and has five games left, including tonight at Milwaukee.

Jeff Foster added 15 points for the seemingly dispassionate Pacers, who shot only 33 percent, and Danny Granger missed his first 13 shots until his three- point play late in the fourth pulled the Pacers to 74-70.

MEMPHIS - Brad Miller had 17 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds to lead Sacramento over lowly Memphis, assuring the Grizzlies of the worst record in the NBA.

With three games left, Memphis has 19 wins, while the Boston Celtics, despite losing Tuesday night at Atlanta, already have 23 victories.

Mike Bibby scored 25 points for the Kings, who snapped a four-game road losing streak. Memphis has lost six straight.

Dahntay Jones led Memphis with 20 points, while Pau Gasol scored 17 and grabbed nine rebounds.

ATLANTA - Tyronn Lue scored 26 points with 10 assists, and Zaza Pachulia had 22 points and 12 rebounds to help Atlanta beat Boston.

Gerald Green's career-high 33 points led Boston, which has lost six straight on the road and 18 of 20. Overall, the Celtics have a four-game losing streak.

The Hawks, who had dropped eight of nine, were without their top three leading scorers after Josh Smith earned a two-game suspension for arguing with coach Mike Woodson in an overtime loss at Philadelphia on Sunday. Boston also didn't have its top three scorers; Paul Pierce, Al Jefferson and Wally Szczerbiak missed the game with injuries.

OKLAHOMA CITY - David West scored a season-high 33 points, including three straight baskets in overtime, to lead New Orleans into the thick of the playoff race with a victory over the Clippers.

Devin Brown scored 25 points to equal his career best, and Chris Paul added 17 points and 10 assists for New Orleans. The Hornets moved within one game of Golden State for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.

The Clippers are in ninth place, a half-game behind the Warriors and the same margin ahead of the Hornets.

Elton Brand tied his season high with 37 points, Corey Maggette had 24 points, and Chris Kaman added 10 points and 13 rebounds for Los Angeles, which has lost three straight.

CHICAGO - Ben Gordon scored 23 points, and Chicago moved a step closer to securing home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs by handing New York its most lopsided loss of the season.

Second in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls (47-32) lead fifth-place Cleveland by a half-game and Atlantic Division winner Toronto by 1½. Chicago owns the tiebreaker over both teams.

The Bulls still have an outside shot at the No. 1 seed, but one more loss by Chicago or a win by Detroit would clinch it for the Pistons.

Nate Robinson scored 24 points for New York (32-46), which lost for the sixth time in seven games. Former Bull Eddy Curry committed two offensive fouls in the opening 1:44 and finished with just four points and seven rebounds.

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