LeBron James tallied 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame Zion Williamson’s 40 points to clinch a playoff berth with a 110-106 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in the Western Conference play-in tournament on Tuesday night.

D’Angelo Russell added 21 points with five 3-pointers and Anthony Davis had 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who advanced to face the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets in a rematch of last season's West finals.

Williamson shot 17 of 27 and had 11 rebounds and five assists in his postseason debut before he went to the locker room after tying the game at 95 on a driving layup with 3:19 remaining. He threw a towel to the floor in disgust as he walked into the tunnel with what coach Willie Green called “left leg soreness.”

Williamson didn’t get much help, as Brandon Ingram scored 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting and CJ McCollum was limited to nine on 4 of 15, including 1 of 9 from 3-point range.

Soon after Williamson’s injury, James hit a jumper, Davis dunked on an alley-oop, Russell drained a 3 and Davis grabbed a crucial offensive rebound, then hit two key free throws.

New Orleans will take on Sacramento on Friday for the final playoff spot in the West.

 

Kings roll to eliminate Warriors

Keegan Murray scored 32 points with eight 3-pointers and every Sacramento starter scored in double figures as the Kings cruised to a 118-94 victory to eliminate the Golden State Warriors and stay alive in the play-in tournament.

Harrison Barnes scored 17 points, Domantas Sabonis added 16, 12 rebounds and seven assists and Keon Ellis contributed 15 points as the Kings moved on to a matchup with New Orleans on Friday with a chance to return to the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Golden State was kept out of the playoffs for the third time in five seasons, including two eliminations in the play-in tournament. The Warriors committed 16 turnovers, gave up 15 offensive rebounds and missed 23 of 33 from long range.

Stephen Curry had 22 points, but Klay Thompson didn’t score and missed all 10 shots from the field.

The Miami Heat are anticipating a "dog fight" in their play-in matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers, according to forward Caleb Martin.

The 8th-seeded Heat face the 7th-seeded Sixers - who have listed Joel Embiid as questionable - at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday.

Defeat for the Heat would see them in a win-or-go-home contest, but victory would see them open the playoffs against the New York Knicks.

Speaking ahead of the showdown with the Sixers, Martin is quoted by the Miami Herald as saying: "Everybody knows what's at stake going into that building, including them.

"We just expect a dog fight. We went through a lot of difficult games this year, over the last couple years, to get us prepared for these types of moments.

"So we'll definitely come in with the right mentality."

An injury-ravaged Heat ended the regular season with a record of 46-36, including a run of 7-3 across their final 10 games.

The Heat hope to have Duncan Robinson back after a four-game absence through a back injury, but Terry Rozier has been ruled out.

Miami and Philadelphia split the season series, and Heat center Bam Adebayo sees no reason why his side cannot come out on top this time around.

"We've been in a lot of big games before," he said. "We've all experienced it. We've been to the Finals. We understand what's at stake."

Steve Kerr is hoping for more of the same from "sublime" Steph Curry when the Golden State Warriors face the Sacramento Kings in the play-ins.

Curry produced a career-high 50 points to guide the Warriors to a Game 7 victory in Sacramento in the sides' most recent win-or-bust showdown.

The two-time MVP became the first player in playoff history to score 20 points or more from behind the arc and in the paint in the same game.

Asked about that performance on the eve of Tuesday's do-or-die matchup with Sacramento at Golden 1 Center, Kerr told reporters: "He's one of the great clutch players in the history of the league, we know that.

"That performance did not surprise me because he's 'that guy'. What I remember about that game is that we extended a lead at the end of the third, I think we went into the fourth up by 12 or something and so we had timeouts saved up.

"And the conversation you're referring to I think I was telling him we can take a timeout anytime you want just to get a couple of minutes of rest. And we were able to control that fourth quarter, but he was so sublime."

Curry leads the NBA standings across the regular season for average 3-point field goals made (4.8) and is ninth overall in terms of average points per game (26.4).

If the Warriors are to stay on course for the playoffs, the four-time NBA champion will likely have a major part to play.

"I think he led the league in player efficiency this year and clutch minutes," Kerr added of what to expect from Curry. 

"We've seen him win championships, win Finals MVP. I mean Steph Curry is Steph Curry."

Blake Griffin has dunked in an NBA game for the last time.

The six-time All-Star announced his retirement on social media on Tuesday after a 14-year pro career.

The first overall pick of the 2009 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers, Griffin missed the entire 2009-10 season with a broken patella in his left knee sustained in the preseason.

He made an immediate impact the following year, however, winning the 2010-11 Rookie of the Year Award, the 2011 Slam Dunk Contest and was named to the first of five consecutive All-Star teams while playing for the Clippers.

A three-time All-NBA Second Team selection and a two-time All-NBA Third Team pick, Griffin made his final All-Star Game appearance in 2019, with the Detroit Pistons.

The 35-year-old spent the 2023-24 season out of basketball as a free agent.

 

Griffin's best season came in 2013-14, when he finished third in MVP voting with averages of 24.1 points per game, 9.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists to help the Clippers capture the Pacific Division title.

In his final NBA season, Griffin averaged career lows of 4.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 41 games for the Boston Celtics in 2022-23.

Though injuries slowed him in recent seasons, Griffin, who also played for the Brooklyn Nets, still averaged 19.0 points per game and 8.0 rebounds in 765 career games.

One of basketball's top dunkers, Griffin may be best remembered for winning the Slam Dunk Contest by dunking the ball after jumping over a parked car on the floor at his home-court in Los Angeles.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is reportedly unlikely to play when the Milwaukee Bucks open the NBA play-offs.

The Bucks expect to be without Antetokounmpo for the start of their first-round series against the Indiana Pacers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on Tuesday.

The two-time league MVP will continue to go through treatment on his left calf strain, and the team remains hopeful he'll be able to take the court at some point during the series against the sixth-seeded Pacers.

Game 1 tips off Sunday in Milwaukee.

 

Antetokounmpo missed the final three games of the regular season after he strained his left calf in the third quarter of Milwaukee's 104-91 win over the NBA-best Boston Celtics on April 9.

It was a non-contact injury for Antetokounmpo, who was heading up the court when he awkwardly went down grabbing his left calf.

An MRI later confirmed it was a calf strain.

The eight-time All-Star is coming off another outstanding season, ranking second in the NBA in scoring with an average of 30.4 points per game and sixth in rebounding at 11.5 boards per game.

The Bucks lost two of the final three games of the season with Antetokounmpo injured to slip from second place in the Eastern Conference to the third seed.

On the season, the Bucks went 4-5 in games he missed and 45-28 in games he played.

Making matters even more difficult for Milwaukee is the Pacers went 4-1 against the Bucks in the 2023-24 regular season.

Caitlin Clark is living the dream after she was chosen as the first pick in the WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever.

The 22-year-old is stepping up to the professional league as the most successful college player in history, which has made her the new star of the sport.

She joins last year’s first pick Aliyah Boston – a former team-mate of hers in the United States Under-19s – at the Fever as the club try to revive their fortunes after again failing to reach the play-offs in 2023.

Clark said on the WNBA website: “I dreamed of this moment since I was in second grade, and it’s taken a lot of hard work, a lot of ups and downs, but more than anything, just trying to soak it in.

“Obviously going to an organisation that has, in my eyes, one of the best post players (Boston) in the entire world.

“My point guard eyes just light up at that. And obviously, Aliyah has been one of my team-mates before. I’m excited. I can’t wait.”

 

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Fever head coach Christie Sides said on the club’s website: “Caitlin is one of the most naturally gifted basketball players I have ever seen enter the WNBA from the college level.

“Her shooting and passing abilities captivated an entire audience of basketball fans, and her ability to make those around her better was even more evident during her collegiate career.

“We can’t wait to bring her to Indiana and incorporate her into our locker room with a group ready to get back to the postseason.”

Clark’s Fever career kicks-off in the WNBA opener against the Connecticut Sun on May 14.

Joel Embiid will be "ready to go" for the Philadelphia 76ers when they host the Miami Heat, coach Nick Nurse has confirmed.

The reigning MVP sat out the Sixers' 107-86 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in Sunday's regular-season finale at Wells Fargo Center.

Embiid returned from a two-month lay-off against the Oklahoma City Thunder two weeks ago, but his status has been questionable for every game since. 

And after missing the Nets game, concerns were raised with regards to his status ahead of Wednesday's 7-8 play-in contest with the Heat.

However, Nurse allayed any fears regarding the fitness of Embiid, who practised with the rest of his team-mates on Saturday.

"He did everything at practice yesterday," Nurse said after the Nets win. "But we decided out of caution to hold him out. He'll be ready to go."

Despite winning their final eight games, the Sixers finished seventh in the Eastern Conference and are set to contest their first play-in contest.

As a result of other results over the weekend, the Heat now stand between Philadelphia and a place in the playoffs.

"Obviously, we've had some great battles with them, and we always expect that facing them," Nurse said.

"The mindset is we're playing well and do everything we can, like we've been doing for the last month.

"We're digging in and playing our guys and doing whatever we have to do to win. We've got a good mindset, and we'll take that into Wednesday."

When Grayson Allen takes the court for the Phoenix Suns in their first play-off game this weekend, he'll be playing with a new contract.

Allen and the Suns agreed to a four-year, $70million extension on Monday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The six-year veteran is coming off his best NBA season, averaging career highs of 13.5 points per game, 3.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 0.92 steals while starting 74 of 75 contests.

He also shot a league-leading 46.1 per cent from 3-point range and averaged a career-best 2.7 made 3-pointers per game.

He had seven games this season with at least eight made 3-pointers, and only the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry had more such games with eight.

 

The 21st overall pick of the 2018 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz, Allen joined the Suns last off-season as part of the three-team trade that saw Damian Lillard go to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Prior to being acquired by Phoenix, Allen spent one season with the Jazz, two with the Memphis Grizzlies and two in Milwaukee.

He averaged 9.7 points per game in his first five seasons before becoming an important part of Phoenix's offence in 2023-24.

In the 30 games Allen scored at least 14 points, the Suns went 22-8, compared to going 27-25 when he scored 13 or fewer.

Phoenix won 10 of its last 14 games to end the season 49-33, and finish in sixth place in the Western Conference.

The Suns will face the third-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in a first-round play-off series, beginning on Saturday.

The Los Angeles Lakers will have Anthony Davis to call on when they face the New Orleans Pelicans in their upcoming play-in game.

After finishing eighth in the Western Conference, the Lakers will go up against the No.7 seed Pelicans on Tuesday.

While the loser will drop into a game against either the Sacramento Kings or the Golden State Warriors, the winner will go up against the Denver Nuggets in the first round.

The Lakers defeated the Pelicans 124-108 in their final regular-season game on Sunday, with an instant rematch now on the cards.

And Davis, who had to be treated for back spasms after the game, insisted he will be fit to feature.

"No doubt that I'm going to play," said Davis, who finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds.

LeBron James is heading into the playoffs in fine form.

He registered his fifth triple-double of the season, finishing with 28 points, a season-high 17 assists and 11 rebounds.

"I just read the game and I was just finding my teammates and I just tried to put the ball on time and on target for either jump shots or guys at the rim," James said.

"I just tried to be very efficient with my play."

James marked Zion Williamson on Sunday, with the 23-year-old limited to 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

However, James was full of praise for his opponent, adding: "He's a beast.

"I mean, it's almost impossible to stop him so I just tried to keep a body on him and just tried to keep it tough on him. He's a great player, man."

Looking towards Tuesday's matchup, James said: "Tuesday's game is going to be extremely hard, extremely difficult, extremely physical.

"I've always known that, when you play a playoff series, and I look at this like a two-game playoff series, if you win that first game, a team has multiple days to kind of sit on that feeling, or sit with that taste in their mouth of defeat.

"So they're going to be extremely ready for us and we have to come in with the same sense of urgency that we had the previous game."

Chet Holmgren and the Oklahoma City Thunder have their "eyes on the prize" as they target an NBA Championship tilt.

The Thunder clinched the No.1 seed in the Western Conference with a 135-86 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

Oklahoma City will face either the New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings or Golden State Warriors in the first round.

But for Holmgren, the celebrations for finishing top of the West will be short-lived.

"I wouldn't say celebratory so much as just kind of recognising the fruition of all the hard work that we've been putting in," Holmgren said.

"We're not in the position we're in by accident. There was a lot of dedication and hard work that went into it.

"But we're not celebrating, because what we're trying to do, we're not there yet. So, we're still eyes on the prize, locked in."

The Thunder finished the regular season with a 57-25 record, as they edged out the Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves in a three-horse race for the No.1 seed.

"It's super surreal. It's fun," said Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

"Obviously, you play to win. It's [more fun] like that, but I think it goes back to us chipping away at it every day and not worrying about the past or the future.

"Just chipping away, seeing where that gets us, and us taking that mentality has allowed us to get here.

"So, yeah, it feels good, something to be proud about. We have a lot more work to do."

Reigning NBA champions the Nuggets might have finished second in the West, but they did tie a franchise record with their 57 wins.

"To tie the franchise record for wins in a season is outstanding, especially on the heels of winning a championship," coach Michael Malone said.

"That's been the mantra all year long. Not being satisfied."

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 15 points in just one half of action to lead seven Oklahoma City players in double figures as the Thunder clinched the Western Conference's No. 1 seed with a 135-86 rout of the depleted Dallas Mavericks in Sunday's regular-season finale.

The Thunder, who missed the postseason in each of the previous three seasons, earned the conference's top spot for the first time since 2012-13 after winning a tiebreaker with the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets. Both teams finished with 57–25 records, but Oklahoma City won three of the four meetings between the clubs. 

Oklahoma City rested most of its starting five for the entire second half after building an insurmountable 82-41 lead over Dallas, which held out stars Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving and two other starters with its playoff seed already known.

The Mavericks were locked into the West's No. 5 seed and will face the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers in the quarterfinals.

Oklahoma City shot 60.7 per cent in the first quarter to own a 39-22 advantage after 12 minutes, then overwhelmed Dallas' makeshift lineup in the second to put the game already out of reach.

The Thunder outscored the Mavericks by a 43-19 margin for the period, with reserve Aaron Wiggins leading the way with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

Wiggins finished with 14 points and Chet Holmgren had 13 along with nine rebounds before also sitting out the second half.

Brandon Williams paced Dallas with 22 points, while rookie Olivier Maxence-Prosper had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Mavericks.

 

Suns thump Timberwolves to avoid play-in round

In another of the West's pivotal games on the season's final day, the Phoenix Suns secured a spot in the quarterfinals with a 125-106 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves to set up a first-round clash between the teams.

Phoenix's win coupled with New Orleans' 124-108 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday moved the Suns ahead of the Pelicans for the West's No. 6 seed. New Orleans will now host the Lakers once again on Tuesday in the play-in round.

Minnesota entered the day tied with Oklahoma City and Denver for the West's top record, but fell to the No. 3 seed and will face the Suns in the best-of-seven quarterfinals.

Phoenix set up the rematch behind a big performance from Bradley Beal, who made all six of his 3-point attempts while tallying 36 points. The Suns also received 23 points and seven assists from Devin Booker and 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting from Grayson Allen.

Beal set the tone right from the start, as he dropped in 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the first quarter as Phoenix took a commanding 44-22 lead into the second.

The Suns maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the way, with Minnesota never getting its deficit under 10 points over the final three quarters.

Rudy Gobert led the Timberwolves with 21 points and seven rebounds, but All-Star Anthony Edwards was held to 13 points in 35 minutes and committed five of Minnesota's 24 turnovers, which tied a single-game high for the season.

 

Knicks outlast Bulls in overtime to secure East's No. 2 seed

Jalen Brunson's 40 points and some big shots from his supporting cast catapulted the New York Knicks into the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed with a 120-119 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls.

The Knicks leapfrogged the Milwaukee Bucks in the standings after rallying from an eight-point deficit with nine minutes left in regulation and then holding off Chicago during the final stages of overtime. Brunson added eight rebounds and seven assists, while Donte DiVincenzo recorded 25 points and Bojan Bogdanovic chipped in 13 points off the bench.

Milwaukee finished one game back of New York following Sunday's 113-88 loss to Orlando, a result that enabled the Magic to avoid the play-in round. The Bucks would have won the tiebreaker with the Knicks had the teams ended with identical records.

New York appeared on the verge of defeat when down 90-82 early in the fourth quarter, but the Knicks scored 14 of the game's next 20 points to draw even.

A Bogdanovic 3-pointer with 6:48 left cut Chicago's lead to 94-93, and after DeMar DeRozan's jumper gave the Bulls some breathing room, DiVincenzo knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game at 96-96 with five minutes to go.

Chicago took a 109-107 edge on Coby White's layup with 1:19 remaining in regulation, but Brunson answered with a short jumper on the ensuing possession and neither team could score in the final minute.

After the Bulls' Alex Caruso opened overtime with a 3-pointer, New York scored seven straight points to own a 116-112 advantage with 2:27 left.

Chicago, which entered the contest already locked into the play-in round as the East's No. 9 seed, continued to battle back before missing out on a chance to win at the end.

Caruso's layup with 14.4 seconds on the clock brought the Bulls within 120-119 before DiVincenzo turned the ball over on the next possession. Chicago then got the ball to DeRozan, who couldn't get a short jumper to fall with 2.8 seconds left as the Knicks held on.

DeRozan finished with 30 points and Nikola Vucevic had 29 along with 11 rebounds for Chicago, which also received 26 points from White.

The Bulls will host the 10th-seeded Atlanta Hawks in Wednesday's play-in round.

 

The San Antonio Spurs will be without Victor Wembanyama for their final game of the season on Sunday.

San Antonio face the Detroit Pistons in their last fixture of the 2023-24 campaign.

The Spurs have a 21-60 record on the season, and sit 14th in the Western Conference.

Wembanyama has nevertheless enjoyed a fine rookie season in the NBA, having been selected as the No.1 overall pick in last year's Draft.

The seven-foot-four French youngster will sit out against the Pistons due to an ankle injury, meaning he ends his rookie campaign with 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and an NBA-leading 3.6 blocks per game.

Wembanyama has played 71 times for the Spurs, who he helped to overcome the Denver Nuggets on Friday, finishing with 34 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.

After that game, the 20-year-old said: "As a growing team, a young team, it's big for us.

"We're going to need these kind of wins in the future. We're going to need any win. But big-time wins against big teams, first seeds, we're going to need those in the future.

"We've got the potential to be great. The fact that we have the chance to live this, with the fans, I can only hope it's as incredible as it can be."

Wembanyama became the first rookie to accumulate 1,500 points, 250 assists and 250 blocks across the season, while he is only the fourth player in the history of the NBA to do so, after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson.

The New York Knicks are under no illusions as to the importance of securing home-court advantage for the Eastern Conference playoffs, with Friday's win over the Brooklyn Nets keeping them in the hunt for the second seed.

The Knicks drew level with the Milwaukee Bucks at 49-32 with their 111-107 win at Madison Square Garden, boosting their chances of playing at the iconic venue through the postseason.

Jalen Brunson put up 30 points and added 11 assists as the Knicks made it four straight victories, with Josh Hart adding 16 and Mitchell Robinson tacking on 15.

The result saw New York secure a top-four seed, with the Bucks' subsequent 125-107 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder keeping their chances of finishing second in the East alive.

With the Bucks possessing the head-to-head tiebreaker, the Knicks must beat the Chicago Bulls in their season finale on Sunday and hope Milwaukee lose on the road against the Orlando Magic. If both teams lose, the Cleveland Cavaliers could yet usurp them.

Asked about the importance of playing at home, Hart said: "I heard the lights are really bright at MSG during that time, so it's really big for us."

Coach Tom Thibodeau, though, said the team cannot control anything other than their own results, saying: "We want to go through the finish line so that's the way we're looking at it. We want to improve and play our best."

With Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined by a left calf injury and Damian Lillard missing out due to pain in his left adductor, the short-handed Bucks let the Knicks into the race with their loss at Paycom Center.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 23 points and Chet Holmgren added 22 as the Thunder eased to victory, establishing a 17-point halftime lead which they never looked likely to surrender.

Asked about Milwaukee's failure to wrap up second place, Bucks coach Doc Rivers said: "I don't have much of a reaction. We've got to run to the finish line.

"The good news is, no matter what, we'll be at home for game one. That we do know."

That result was also an important one in the race to top the Western Conference, with the Thunder now locked in a three-way tie with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets.

It's in Oklahoma City's hands going into their season finale against the Dallas Mavericks, with Mark Daigneault's team edging the three-way tiebreaker.

"I think the big exponential jumps come from small incremental steps," Daigneault said after Friday's game. "I talk all the time about stacking and we really are trying to live that out. 

"We just try to have a good day in the day that's in front of us, have a good possession in the possession that's in front of us, a good game in the game that's in front of us and just be very present in the process of improving and competing."

LeBron James said "every seed matters" for the Los Angeles Lakers after he combined with Anthony Davis to power them past the Memphis Grizzlies and go eighth in the Western Conference.

The Lakers entered Friday's game – their penultimate outing of the regular season – on a two-game losing streak and jockeying for position with the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors. 

However, James put up 37 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Davis added 35 points as the injury-hit Grizzlies failed to hold on after going 118-117 up with one minute and six seconds left.

James sank six points in the final minute to lift Los Angeles one game clear of Sacramento and Golden State, both of whom suffered defeats later on Friday.

"Every game matters. Every seed matters. Wherever you fall, you can't play in the past," James said.

"I can't say I would much rather be where we are today than be the number one seed. That would be a lie. Seeds matter, and wherever you fall, you take that challenge."

The Lakers emerged from the Play-In Tournament to reach the Western Conference Finals last year before being dispatched by the eventual NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets.

With coach Darvin Ham plotting a route through the postseason, he left James out on the court for 41 minutes on Friday, while Davis played 43 minutes on his return from a left eye injury which kept him out of Tuesday's loss to the Warriors. 

Asked about the risks of keeping the duo out there, Ham said: "In the moment, you're not worried about that. You're worried about securing the victory you came to get. 

"Everyone knows what time it is. It's that time of the year. Everyone knows what's at stake. 

"Whatever we need, and however long we need to push guys, we've got to have it, and they understand that."

Memphis are guaranteed to end a frustrating campaign 13th in the West, and Scotty Pippen Jr. said they were simply playing for future opportunities after scoring a career-high 28 points.

"The emphasis going into the game was to play hard," Pippen said. "We knew they were playing for something, and they probably thought we were playing for nothing. 

"But a lot of guys here are playing for opportunities. That's our motivation."

Joel Embiid shook off an apparent injury to finish with 32 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists and the Philadelphia 76ers extended their winning streak to seven with a 125-113 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday.

Embiid had 21 points, nine boards and seven assists in the first 17 minutes but appeared to land awkwardly on his left knee late in the first half. He limped to midcourt and gave up on the play.

After coach Nick Nurse called timeout, Embiid went straight to the locker room. But he returned for the second half and promptly hit a 3-pointer on his first touch of the third quarter.

Orlando, Indiana and Philadelphia are all 46-35 after the Pacers lost to Cleveland and are fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, in the Eastern Conference.

Franz Wagner scored 24 points and Paolo Banchero added 22 for Orlando, which dropped its third straight game. The Magic can win the Southeast Division with a victory over Milwaukee on Sunday.

Spurs rally to stun Nuggets

Devonte’ Graham scored on a floater in the lane with 0.9 seconds remaining and the San Antonio Spurs rallied from a 23-point deficit for a 121-120 win over the Denver Nuggets, who may have suffered a potentially damaging loss.

The loss dropped Denver out of sole possession of first place in the Western Conference and into a tie with Minnesota and Oklahoma City. After tiebreakers, the Timberwolves are first, the Thunder and second and the Nuggets are third heading into the final day of the regular season on Sunday.

Victor Wembanyama had 34 points and 12 rebounds for the West-worst Spurs, who trailed 76-53 early in the third quarter and were still down 17 early in the fourth.

Jamal Murray scored 35 points and Nikola Jokić had 22 and 12 rebounds for the Nuggets, who close the regular season Sunday at Memphis.

Thunder handle depleted Bucks

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 23 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder boosted their chances at capturing the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a 125-107 win over the short-handed Milwaukee Bucks.

Chet Holmgren had 22 points and nine rebounds and Aaron Wiggins added 19 points for the Thunder, who won their fourth straight and ended the night tied for the top seed in the West after Denver lost to San Antonio and Minnesota beat Atlanta.

Milwaukee played without superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (strained left calf) and All-Star Damian Lillard (sore left adductor) and dropped into a tie with the Knicks for the No. 2 seed in the East. The Bucks can still finish second with a win at Orlando on Sunday or a New York loss to Chicago.

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