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Nets ensnare at least a 7 seed for playoffs

Associated Press • Apr 17, 2007 at 12:33 PM

NEW YORK - Vince Carter had 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, and the New Jersey Nets clinched at least the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference by beating the New York Knicks 104-95 on Monday night to complete a season sweep.

New Jersey is still hoping to catch struggling Washington for the No. 6 seed. The Nets, who have won three straight and five of six, finish their season Wednesday night at home against Chicago.

Bostjan Nachbar added 19 points for the Nets, who won their sixth straight at Madison Square Garden and 10th in the past 11 meetings overall against their rivals across the Hudson River. New Jersey has won 22 of the last 26 in the series, including two victories in the past four nights, and is 20-4 against New York in the regular season since acquiring Jason Kidd.

Steve Francis scored 26 points and Mardy Collins had 23 for the Knicks (32-49), who are limping to the finish. They have lost a season- high five straight and need a victory at Charlotte on Wednesday to avoid losing 50 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since doing it three straight times from 1984-87.

MIAMI - Al Jefferson's jump hook with one-tenth of a second left lifted the Celtics. Delonte West scored 28 points, while Jefferson finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds for Boston. Rajon Rondo added 17 for the Celtics.

Jason Williams hit his first five 3-point tries - he finished 5-for-6 - and scored 16 points for Miami, as did Jason Kapono. Shaquille O'Neal added 14 points and Michael Doleac scored 10 for the Heat, who went with some unusual lineups in an effort to rest key players before the playoffs.

Dwyane Wade had eight points on 3-for-7 shooting in 23 minutes for Miami.

MEMPHIS - Pau Gasol scored 25 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had six assists to lead Memphis. Gasol connected on nine of his 15 shots to lead five Grizzlies in double figures.

Both teams were without key players. Spurs Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili took the night off because San Antonio was no longer playing to enhance its third seed in the West.

Memphis starters Mike Miller and Damon Stoudamire didn't play because of knee injuries, and rookie Rudy Gay left in the second quarter after aggravating an ankle injury.

Chucky Atkins scored 19 for Memphis.

MILWAUKEE - Mo Williams scored 26 points, Ruben Patterson added 23 and the Bucks snapped a four-game home losing streak.

The Hawks got 21 points from Marvin Williams and 16 points and 17 rebounds from Shelden Williams in a matchup between the teams with the third- and fourth-worst records in the league.

The two teams could finish tied in the league standings if the Hawks (29-52) lose to Indiana at home on Tuesday and the Bucks (28-53) beat Cleveland on the road on Wednesday.

Mo Williams and Patterson put on what could be their final performances in front of the home crowd. Both are eligible for free agency this summer.

The Hawks were without a slew of players and even coach Mike Woodson, who missed their final road game with food poisoning. Assistant coach Larry Drew led the team.

HOUSTON - Tracy McGrady had 39 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists as the Rockets secured home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Yao Ming added 34 points and nine rebounds for Houston, which won its fifth straight and snapped a six-game losing streak to Phoenix.

The Rockets secured their best record since 1997 and will open their first-round playoff series against Utah at home next weekend thanks to a better record. But the Jazz, winners of the Northwest Division, will be the No. 4 seed and Houston the fifth seed.

Amare Stoudemire scored 30 points and Shawn Marion added 27 for the Suns, who already clinched the No. 2 seed in the West. Steve Nash added 15 points and 15 assists.

SALT LAKE CITY - Carlos Boozer scored 26 points and the Jazz tied a season high for points. Utah won its 50th game of the season, but will still open the playoffs on the road against Houston.

Gordan Giricek scored 21 points after missing the past three games with a sore right side and was one of seven Utah players to score in double figures.

Travis Outlaw had 26 points to lead Portland.

DENVER - Allen Iverson scored 25 points, then sat back and watched the reserves close out the Nuggets' ninth win in 10 games.

Linas Kleiza scored 23 points and Carmelo Anthony added 21 in helping the Nuggets pull away with a 19-4 run in the third quarter.

Randy Foye and Justin Reed led the Timberwolves with 19 points each.

Both teams were without their big man. Kevin Garnett stayed back in Minneapolis with a sore right thigh, and Marcus Camby, the league's leading shot blocker, sat out with a sore right knee.

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