Fri, Apr 14, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Pacers, Bulls grab final NBA playoff spots


Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers, left, goes to the basket against Kris Humphries of the Atlanta Hawks in their NBA game in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Paul George delivered 32 points and 11 rebounds as the Indiana Pacers punched their ticket to the NBA post-season on Wednesday with a 104-86 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Jeff Teague added 19 points and seven assists before twisting his left ankle and leaving the game in the fourth quarter as the Pacers grabbed the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference on the final day of the 2016-2017 regular season.

Indiana open the post-season against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference to the Boston Celtics after the Cavs’ 98-83 defeat by the Toronto Raptors.

“I’m excited about the opportunity,” said George, who made 12 of his 21 field-goal attempts against the Hawks.

“I guess that’s because we’re doing everything right. When our back is against the wall, we figure things out,” he said. “It just showed the character of this team, that we knew all along that we should have been a playoff team. We just had to figure out how to play the right way.”

The Boston Celtics beat the Milwaukee Bucks 112-94 to help relegate Cleveland to the second seed and solidify home-court advantage through the first three rounds of the playoffs.

Elsewhere, Jimmy Butler scored a team-high 25 points as the Chicago Bulls clinched a playoff berth with a 112-73 victory over the hapless Brooklyn Nets.

“We all did our job to get us into the playoffs,” Butler said. “Now it’s about winning some games. We’ve just got to stick together and focus on ourselves.”

Rookie forward Paul Zipser added a career-high 21 points off the Chicago bench.

The Bulls claimed the eighth and final seed in the East and meet the Celtics in the first round.

Guard Archie Goodwin scored 20 points to lead the Nets.

Brooklyn dropped to 20-62 on the season and finished with the worst record in the NBA and the fourth-most losses in franchise history.

Chicago shot 43 percent from the field and 47 percent from beyond the arc.

The Bulls finished the regular season with an impressive 25-16 record at home, but it is a different picture when they go on the road, where they have just 16 wins and 25 losses.

However, that does not worry veteran Dwyane Wade, who is just happy to be in another playoff.

“As a player, 14 years, I think I’ve been in 12 playoffs,” Wade said. “This is what I play for. This is what I enjoy. You always want to play your best when the lights are the brightest.”

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