The Miami Heat, resting LeBron James and most of their top players for the playoffs, earned a 96-95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.
Norris Cole stripped Kyrie Irving of the ball with 2.2 seconds left to give to give the Heat the win, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
James was disappointed to not play in another homecoming game against his former team, but he appreciated coach Erik Spoelstra’s desire to get the NBA champions as healthy and refreshed as possible heading into the postseason.
The Oklahoma City Thunder clinched the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs by beating the Sacramento Kings 104-95 with 29 points from Kevin Durant.
Russell Westbrook had 21 before being ejected in the final three minutes.
Tyreke Evans, the Kings’ second-leading scorer, did not return after grabbing at his troublesome left knee following a drive to the basket late in the first quarter.
Denver’s Ty Lawson scored 26 points, including a jump shot in the lane with 9.3 seconds left as the Nuggets clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 112-111 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Wilson Chandler added 21 points for the Nuggets, who can secure the No. 3 seed in the West with one more victory or two losses by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Greg Monroe had 27 points and 16 rebounds as the Detroit Pistons made the most of their home finale by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 109-101.
For both teams, the game was overshadowed by uncertainty off the court. Doug Collins is on his way out as Philadelphia’s coach, and Pistons owner Tom Gores remained noncommittal before the game on the status of team president Joe Dumars and coach Lawrence Frank.
At Minneapolis, Al Jefferson had 22 points and eight rebounds to help the Utah Jazz keep their playoff hopes alive with a 96-80 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Mo Williams had 15 points and seven assists for the Jazz, who needed a win to avoid being eliminated in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Jazz need to win at Memphis today and for the Los Angeles Lakers to lose at home against Houston to get into the playoffs.
The Memphis Grizzlies rallied to a 103-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks to keep their chance of hosting a first-round playoff series alive, while Carlos Boozer scored 22 points and Luol Deng added 18 as the Chicago Bulls ended a two-game losing streak with a 102-84 victory over the Orlando Magic.
In other games, the Charlotte Bobcats downed the New York Knicks 106-95, the Brooklyn Nets beat the Washington Wizards 106-101, the Phoenix Suns defeated the Houston Rockets 119-112 and the Golden State Warriors were 116-106 winners over the San Antonio Spurs.