Sun, Apr 15, 2012 - Page 18 News List

NBA: Lakers beat Nuggets, clinch playoff spot

STEPPING UP:Matt Barnes played an enormous role in the absence of Kobe Bryant and coach Mike Brown, while the Hawks moved past the Magic with a 109-81 rout

AP, Los Angeles

Matt Barnes of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on Friday in Los Angeles, California.

Photo: AFP

The Los Angeles Lakers clinched an NBA playoff spot by beating the Denver Nuggets 103-97 on Friday despite the absence of Kobe Bryant and coach Mike Brown.

Andrew Bynum had 30 points and eight rebounds and Matt Barnes added a season-high 24 points for the Lakers, who have won three of four without Bryant, who is resting a bruised shin.

Los Angeles also played without Brown, who left shortly before tipoff for undisclosed personal reasons. Assistant coach John Kuester filled in.

Barnes played an enormous game in a reserve role while matching his highest-scoring performance in two seasons with the Lakers. He scored six consecutive points after Denver trimmed Los Angeles’ lead to one point, hitting a three-pointer and adding a clutch jumper with one minute, 29 seconds to play.

Andre Miller scored 20 points for the Nuggets, who are clinging on to a playoff spot.


The Atlanta Hawks extended their recent dominance of Orlando by cruising past the Magic 109-81 in Orlando, Florida, on Friday, moving above their rivals in the NBA’s Southeast Division.

Jannero Pargo hit five three-pointers and scored 17 points, and Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Marvin Williams each had 16 for the Hawks, who have won their past six regular-season games against Orlando.

Atlanta shot 50 percent from the field (40 for 79) for the game, including 14 three-pointers. The Hawks led by 35 at one point.

Glen Davis and Von Wafer each scored 16 points to lead the Magic, who were without center Dwight Howard due to back spasms.


In Houston, Phoenix boosted their playoff hopes with a win at Houston. Marcin Gortat had 20 points and 15 rebounds and Steve Nash had 18 points and 10 assists for the Suns, who moved into the ninth spot in the Western Conference. Phoenix also moved within one game of the Rockets, who came in holding the No. 7 seed in the West.

Marcus Camby had 14 points and 18 rebounds for Houston.


In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Kevin Durant had 29 points and nine rebounds to lead Oklahoma City past Sacramento.

Russell Westbrook scored 22 points for the Thunder, who did not even need their starters in the fourth quarter to hang onto the best record in the Western Conference.

Rookie Isaiah Thomas scored 21 points for the Kings, who dropped their seventh straight for their longest losing streak of the season.


In Portland, Oregon, Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points and nine rebounds as Dallas hung on to beat fast-finishing Portland.

Delonte West added 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Mavericks, who have a one-and-a-half game lead over Denver and Houston for the sixth playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Nicolas Batum had 20 to lead the Blazers, who trailed by 16 points with four minutes to go before closing hard, but fruitlessly in the closing stages.


In Indianapolis, Indiana, Danny Granger scored 18 points to help Indiana clinch a playoff berth with victory over Cleveland.

Tyler Hansbrough scored 16 points for the Pacers, who have won seven of eight to reach 37 victories this season, matching their total from last season.

Indiana, who are in third place in the Eastern Conference standings, are best known for their defense, but have reached three figures in eight out of nine games.

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