|Waiters scores 26 as Cavs beat Magic 119-98|
|Thursday, April 03, 2014 12:00 AM|
ORLANDO, Fla. — At this point in the season, the Cleveland Cavaliers are hoping to make one last run at the playoffs and the Orlando Magic are looking for luck in the NBA draft lottery.
Both improved their chances of reaching those goals Wednesday night as the Cavaliers beat the Magic 119-98 behind 26 points from Dion Waiters and 20 each from Spencer Hawes and Tristan Thompson.
The easy win moved the Cavaliers within two games of New York and Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Cavs play at Atlanta Friday night.
"This was a big game for us but every game is big because of the position we've put ourselves in," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "There is nothing tricky that we have to do. We just have to out and play hard and give ourselves a chance."
Waiters shot 10-for-15 from the field, including 3-for-3 on 3-pointers.
"We've still got a chance, we just need to take full advantage of it," he said. "We came in knowing we should get a win but every game is hard. We have no choice at this point. We control our own destiny. Everybody knows what is at stake. We just have to stay focused."
It helped the Cavaliers that All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving returned with a thump in his step after missing the last eight games with a torn bicep muscle. Irving had 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds in a seamless transition from the bench to the court.
"Kyrie came in and got right in step with us," Brown said. "He helped us get the ball up the floor quickly and get into our attack. He gave us another weapon with a very high skill level."
The Magic had little to be satisfied with other than solidifying their lottery spot with the third-worst record in the NBA.
The Magic gave up 70 points in the first half, the best half all season for Cleveland and the most points Orlando has allowed in a half this year.
"There is going to be a game in the course of the year where you just don't have it and when it's coupled with a team like the Cavs who had it ... it just wasn't a good mix," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "Some days, it's just not your day."
The Magic placed only one starter, Maurice Harkless, in double figures and he had 10 points. Rookie Victor Oladipo led Orlando with 16 points, Doron Lamb had 14, Tobias Harris 11 and E'Twaun Moore 10, all off the bench.
"Terrible, terrible game," Harris said. "It's not how we wanted to play and that shows us that there is no effort."
Every Cleveland player in uniform scored as the Cavs shot 60.5 percent in the first half and 57.7 percent for the game in rolling over a defenseless Magic team that lost its second straight.
Cleveland was 9-for-18 from beyond the 3-point line, most of them wide-open looks as Orlando struggled with defensive rotations the entire game.
Cleveland had four of the five starters already in double figures by halftime. Hawes was 6-for-8 in the first two periods, including 4-for-5 on 3-pointers on his way to 18 points.
Thompson had 14, Irving 13 and Waiters 10 as the Cavaliers starters combined to hit 24-of-33 shots (72.7 percent) in the first two quarters. Deng was the only starter not in double figures but still shot 4-for-5.
The Magic, by contrast, didn't have a player score more than six points in the first half. Orlando had 11 turnovers that Cleveland turned into 16 points.
The Magic trailed 49-42 after Oladipo's 3-pointer with 6:11 left in the second quarter but got only one field goal the rest of the half and were outscored 21-6 as Cleveland rolled to a 70-47 halftime lead.
The closest Orlando got in the second half was 17 when Arron Afflalo's 3 with 4:11 left in the third quarter made it 82-65. Afflalo, the Magic's leading scorer this season, finished with seven points.
Cleveland responded with a 10-0 run that started with a floater in the lane by Jack and ended with two free throws by Thompson to make it 92-65.
Cleveland led by as many 28 points and cruised through the fourth quarter with little effort.
NOTES: Cavs' C Anderson Varajeo sat out the game with a sore shoulder. ... Magic C Nikola Vucevic, who had three straight games scoring 20-plus points for the first time all season coming into the game, scored only seven. ... Cleveland has beaten Orlando seven straight times. ... The Magic are 1-18 this season when teams shoot over 50 percent. Cleveland shot 57.7 percent in the game.
WIZARDS 118, CELTICS 92
WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008, clinching an Eastern Conference berth Wednesday night with a 118-92 win over the Boston Celtics.
Marcin Gortat scored 22 points to lead the Wizards, who gathered for a celebratory huddle at midcourt after the final whistle. John Wall, the 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick playing the first meaningful late-season games of his career, added 13 points and 10 assists.
The Wizards' playoff position had been relatively secure for several weeks in the weakened East but seeing the magic number reach zero was a milestone worth noting for a franchise whose win totals since their last postseason appearance have been 19, 26, 23, 20 and 29 — never finishing better than 24 games below .500.
Jared Sullinger had 25 points and Rajon Rondo had 13 to lead the Celtics.
SPURS 111, WARRIORS 90
SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker had 18 points and eight assists, Tim Duncan had 15 points and eight rebounds and San Antonio extended its franchise-record winning streak to 19 games.
San Antonio (59-16) extended its league-leading record to four games over the Thunder City (54-19) ahead of their matchup tonight in Oklahoma City.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was able to rest his core players with his team leading by as many as 26 points and never trailing after the opening three minutes.
Marreese Speights scored 22 points and fellow reserve Jordan Crawford added 16 points for Golden State. Klay Thompson had 15 points and Stephen Curry 11 for the Warriors, who were playing on the second night of back-to-back games.
BULLS 105, HAWKS 92
ATLANTA — D.J. Augustin scored 23 points and Chicago bumped slumping Atlanta out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with two weeks left in the season.
Chicago took control with a 16-3 run in the second quarter and led the rest of the way, fending off the last of Atlanta's runs when Jimmy Butler swished a 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining.
The Hawks lost for the 21st time in 28 games, this one dropping them slightly behind New York for the eighth playoff seed. The Knicks (33-43) routed Brooklyn 110-81 to climb percentage points ahead of Atlanta (32-42). Cleveland is also in the mix after beating Orlando.
Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 22 points.
KNICKS 110, NETS 81
NEW YORK — J.R. Smith had 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists, Carmelo Anthony added 23 points and 10 rebounds and New York beat city rival Brooklyn to extend a late-season playoff push.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points a game after spraining his right ankle to help the Knicks win for the 12th time in 15 games, dominating a team that had the best record in the Eastern Conference since the new year. New York won its third straight and moved percentage points ahead of Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East when the Hawks lost to the Bulls.
The Knicks made 24-of-36 shots in taking a 63-38 halftime time in front of new president Phil Jackson, finishing at a season-high 60 percent and outrebounding Brooklyn 41-23.
Joe Johnson scored 16 points for the Nets, who had won three straight.
RAPTORS 107, ROCKETS 103
TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan scored 29 points, Jonas Valanciunas and Greivis Vasquez each had 15 and Toronto won its seventh straight home meeting with Houston.
Terrence Ross scored 14 points and John Salmons had 12 as the short-handed Raptors won for the fourth time in five games.
James Harden scored 26 points and Chandler Parsons had 20 for the Rockets, who lost their third straight after winning the previous five.
The Rockets hurt themselves by missing 8-of-30 free throw attempts, including five misses in the fourth quarter.
Jeremy Lin scored 16 points and Donatas Motiejunas had 13 for the Rockets, who could have clinched a playoff spot with a win and a loss by either Memphis or Phoenix.
HEAT 96, BUCKS 77
MIAMI — LeBron James scored 17 points, Chris Bosh added 15 and Miami stayed atop the Eastern Conference with a win over Milwaukee.
Mario Chalmers added 14 for the Heat, who never trailed despite again being without Greg Oden, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen. The win kept Miami percentage points (52-22) ahead of Indiana (53-23) in the East.
Ramon Sessions scored 19 points for Milwaukee, which got 14 from Jeff Adrien, 11 from Brandon Knight and 10 from John Henson. Zaza Pachulia grabbed 16 rebounds in 26 minutes for the NBA-worst Bucks, who have now had 11 games this season in which they never led.
The Bucks fell to 14-61 with seven games remaining and are now only one loss away from tying the franchise record for most defeats in a season.
PACERS 101, PISTONS 94
INDIANAPOLIS — Paul George had 27 points and 13 rebounds, David West scored 15 points and Indiana snapped a 3-game skid with its win over Detroit.
George hit a 3-pointer from 35-feet to give the Pacers a 94-90 lead with 3:19 remaining and Indiana never trailed the rest of the way.
Josh Smith had 24 points and five rebounds and Greg Monroe added 16 points for the Pistons, who have lost four of their last five games.
Brandon Jennings hit a 3 to get Detroit within 94-93 before George scored, forced a turnover and West hit a jumper to give the Pacers a 98-93 lead with 1:35 left to play.
BOBCATS 123, 76ERS 93
PHILADELPHIA — Al Jefferson had 25 points and 10 rebounds to lead Charlotte past Philadelphia 76ers and closer to a playoff berth.
Gary Neal added 15 points for the Bobcats (37-38), who have the seventh-best record in the Eastern Conference. They entered 4½ games ahead of the ninth-place New York Knicks and needed four wins in the final eight games to clinch their first playoff berth since 2010.
The Bobcats raced to a 13-point lead in the first quarter, stretched it to 35 and never once let the Sixers threaten.
Michael Carter-Williams scored 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting for the Sixers. They have lost two straight since snapping an NBA-record tying 26-game losing streak on Saturday.
TIMBERWOLVES 102, GRIZZLIES 88
MINNEAPOLIS — Kevin Love had 24 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his third career triple-double and Minnesota dealt Memphis a loss it could ill afford.
Ricky Rubio had 14 points, seven assists and three steals and Kevin Martin scored 21 points for the Timberwolves, who are trying to play spoiler down the stretch of what has been a disappointing season.
Marc Gasol had 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Grizzlies. But Zach Randolph had just four points on 1-for-8 shooting and Memphis dropped a game that coach Dave Joerger called a must-win before tipoff.
The Grizzlies (44-31) entered in seventh place in the jam-packed West.