Dwyane Wade scored a career-high 55 points to help the Miami Heat tune up for the playoffs with an impressive 122-105 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday.
The victory ensured the Heat (42-38) would be seeded fifth in the Eastern Conference and Wade emphasized Miami’s desire to maintain momentum into the post-season.
“This was not just another game,” Wade, who had twice scored 50 points, told reporters. “It was an important game.”
He missed Glen Rice’s team record by a point.
“He could have went for a million the way he was shooting,” said teammate Michael Beasley, who finished with a career-best equaling 28 points and a personal-best 16 rebounds.
Wade nailed six three-pointers on his way to scoring 50 or more points for the third time this season after he hit the ground running from the opening tipoff.
“Early on I was on the court and had it locked in,” said Wade, who scored 16 points in the first quarter. “I knew it was going to be one of those nights.”
The NBA’s leading scorer hit his 50th point with 26 seconds remaining in the third quarter and left the game with 1:06 to go in the fourth.
Al Harrington and Wilson Chandler each tallied 21 points for New York (31-50).
SPURS 95, KINGS 92
At Sacramento, California, Michael Finley’s three-pointer won the game with 1.3 seconds left despite his apparent shot-clock violation.
Tony Parker had 25 points and nine assists for the Spurs, who moved into a tie with Houston atop the Southwest Division with two games left.
San Antonio kept Tim Duncan out of uniform to rest his sore knees, and the NBA-worst Kings led for most of the night before Finley’s winner — even if television replays appeared to show the ball still in Finley’s hands with the shot clock at 00.
Referee Dan Crawford’s crew explained that shot-clock violations are unreviewable to irate Sacramento coach Kenny Natt, whose Kings lost their eighth straight.
HORNETS 102, MAVERICKS 92
At New Orleans, Chris Paul narrowly missed his seventh triple-double with 31 points, 17 assists and nine rebounds. David West scored 31 points to help New Orleans (49-31) move a game ahead of Dallas for the sixth playoff seed in the Western Conference. Each team has two games left in the regular season.
Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Mavericks, who had pulled even with New Orleans on Friday by beating the Hornets in Dallas.
RAPTORS 111, 76ERS 104
At Toronto, Chris Bosh scored 22 points as the Raptors handed the 76ers their season-high fifth straight loss.
Anthony Parker scored 18 points, Andrea Bargnani had 17 and Shawn Marion had 14 for the Raptors, who won for the first time in five games.
Louis Williams had 23 points and Andre Iguodala had 21 for the 76ers, with Samuel Dalembert adding 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Andre Miller and Marreese Speights each had 10 points for the 76ers, who have their first five-game losing streak since dropping seven in a row between Jan. 2 and Jan. 14 last year.
LAKERS 92, GRIZZLIES 75
At Los Angeles, Andrew Bynum scored 18 points in his third game back from a knee injury to help the Lakers to victory.
Kobe Bryant took just nine shots, made seven, and finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Pau Gasol, often matched against his brother Marc in the middle, scored 12 points and had 13 rebounds.
The 2.13m Bynum, who missed 32 games after tearing a ligament in his right knee on Jan. 31, played 25:03 against the Grizzlies.