The Toronto Raptors opened up a two-game lead for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after they beat the Los Angeles Clippers 114-92 on Wednesday.
Chris Bosh scored 34 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Andrea Bargnani added 21 and eight rebounds as the Raptors (37-37) used a big second half to put some breathing room between themselves and the ninth-placed Chicago Bulls.
Toronto trailed 75-74 with two minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the third quarter before outscoring the Clippers 40-17 over the remainder of the game.
“We knew we had to make adjustments and come out and play the second half correctly,” Bosh told reporters. “There wasn’t much said, we just addressed the problems.”
Sonny Weems boosted the Raptors with 15 of his 17 points coming in the second half.
Weems, a second-year player who was inserted into the starting lineup four games ago, made all eight of his field goal attempts and added five rebounds.
Chris Kaman had 22 points and 13 rebounds for Los Angeles, while forward Drew Gooden recorded 17 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
Los Angeles, who lost their third successive game and fell to 27-48 on the season, were again without point guard Baron Davis who is having trouble with back spasms.
“I thought the first half we played hard and we made a little run there,” Kaman said. “We’ve got to give them credit. They deserved to win, they’re fighting for that last playoff spot and they wanted it more than we did.”
CAVALIERS 101, BUCKS 98
At Cleveland, Mo Williams made four free throws in the final 12.8 seconds as the Cleveland Cavaliers held on for a 101-98 win over the vastly improved Milwaukee Bucks, who showed they might be a dangerous team in the playoffs.
LeBron James scored 23 points and Williams 21 for the Cavs, who have won 10 of their past 11 and are closing in on the league’s best record and home-court advantage throughout the postseason.
John Salmons scored 28 points and Andrew Bogut had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks, who attempted just nine free throws — none in the fourth quarter — to 45 for Cleveland.
HAWKS 109, LAKERS 92
At Atlanta, Joe Johnson scored 25 points and Jamal Crawford got plenty of help off the Atlanta bench in a win over Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant scored 28 points but only eight in the second half as Los Angeles lost back-to-back games for just the fourth time this season. The Lakers won twice on a five-game road trip and missed a chance to possibly clinch the Pacific Division title before heading back home.
SUNS 116, NETS 105
At East Rutherford, New Jersey, Steve Nash had 24 points and 14 assists, and Jason Richardson scored 23 points as Phoenix ran its winning streak to nine games.
Amare Stoudemire had 15 points and three reserves were in double figures for the Suns, who followed a sluggish first half by hitting all six 3-point attempts in a 38-point third quarter that turned around the game.
Terrence Williams scored 21 points and Brook Lopez had 19 for New Jersey. Courtney Lee and Kris Humphries each added 17.
THUNDER 109, CELTICS 104
At Boston, Kevin Durant scored 37 points, and Jeff Green hit two 3-pointers in the last two minutes as Oklahoma City edged Boston.
Russell Westbrook added 21 points and 10 assists in the Thunder’s 46th victory of the season.
Boston was led by Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace with 18 points each.
In other NBA play, it was:
• Wizards 96, Hornets 91
• Timberwolves 108, Kings 99
• Bobcats 103, 76ers 84
• Heat 98, Pistons 81
• Mavericks 106, Grizzlies 102, OT
• Spurs 119, Rockets 102
• Jazz 128, Warriors 104
• Trail Blazers 118, Knicks 90
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