Walker’s big 4th quarter helps Hornets fly past New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Kemba Walker scored 21 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, and the Charlotte Hornets kept alive their slim playoff hopes with a 115-109 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.
The Hornets trailed by five in the middle of the fourth when Walker’s 3 ignited a 14-6 run that put Charlotte in front for good. He hit a pair of driving layups and a second 3 during the decisive spurt.
Frank Kaminsky added 21 points and rookie Devonte Graham scored a career-high 13 points for the Hornets (36-42), who, with four games to play, sit 2½ games behind Orlando (39-40) for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Julius Randle had 34 points and 11 rebounds for New Orleans, which has dropped five of six games.
HAWKS 130, 76ERS 122
ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young had 33 points and 12 assists, John Collins added 25 points, and the Hawks handed the playoff-bound Philadelphia 76ers their second straight loss.
The Sixers began the night needing one victory and a loss by Boston to secure the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they have dropped four of six, a stretch that began with a last-second setback at Atlanta 10 days ago.
T’WOLVES 110, MAVS 108
DALLAS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns had 28 points and 13 rebounds, Andrew Wiggins hit the go-ahead bucket in the final minute and the Minnesota Timberwolves turned back a fourth-quarter rally by the Mavericks.
NUGGETS 113, SPURS 84
DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic scored 20 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out nine of Denver’s season-high 41 assists as the Nuggets routed the Spurs in a game in which San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was ejected after just 63 seconds.
Jamal Murray added 14 points and 11 assists for a Nuggets team that’s currently holding down the No. 2 seed in the West with four games remaining.
An irate Popovich was given two quick technicals and was sent to the locker room at 10:57 of the opening quarter. The last time a coach was ejected within the first 2 minutes of a game was Washington’s Flip Saunders on January 2, 2012, at Boston, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. Saunders was ejected 1:46 into that game.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Lonnie Walker IV each had 16 points for the Spurs, who slipped into the eighth spot with the loss.
BULLS 115, WIZARDS 114
WASHINGTON (AP) — Walt Lemon Jr. scored a career-high 24 points, including two free throws with 1.8 seconds to play, to help the Chicago Bulls snap a five-game losing streak.
Lemon, in just his third game with Chicago, was one of seven Bulls in double figures in the matchup of teams whose seasons will end without a playoff appearance. JaKarr Sampson added 18 points for the Bulls.
Thomas Bryant scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Washington. Bobby Portis had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Bradley Beal added 19 points. The Wizards played their first game since Ernie Grunfeld was fired as team president after 16 seasons on Tuesday.
PACERS 108, PISTONS 89
DETROIT (AP) — Thaddeus Young scored 21 points, and the Indiana Pacers took advantage of Blake Griffin’s absence, beating the Pistons.
Griffin missed a third straight game for the Pistons, who are in the middle of a tight race for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The star forward has been dealing with left knee soreness.
Detroit came into the night in sixth place in the East, but just 1 ½ games ahead of ninth-place Orlando. The Magic gained ground with a win over New York on Wednesday.
The Pacers snapped a 10-game losing streak on the road, and they won for just the third time in their last 10 games. Bojan Bogdanovic and Myles Turner scored 17 points apiece, and Domantas Sabonis added 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Andre Drummond had 28 points and 19 rebounds for the Pistons, and Wayne Ellington scored 24 points.
CELTICS 112, HEAT 102
MIAMI (AP) — Gordon Hayward scored 25 points, Kyrie Irving added 23 and the Boston Celtics pulled away in the final minutes to beat the Heat.
Al Horford scored 21 and Jayson Tatum scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter for the Celtics, who went on a 10-2 run over a decisive three-minute late stretch. That little burst turned a two-point lead into a 10-point edge, and Boston finished off its second win over Miami in a three-night span — dealing the Heat’s playoff hopes a serious blow.
Aron Baynes had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Boston, which remained tied with Indiana for the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Dion Waiters scored 21 points for Miami, which was potentially playing the next-to-last home game of Dwyane Wade’s career.
RAPTORS 115, NETS 105
NEW YORK (AP) — Pascal Siakam had 28 points and 10 rebounds, Kawhi Leonard added 26 points and nine boards and the Toronto Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets for their fifth straight victory.
Serge Ibaka finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors (56-23), who need to win their final three games to match last season’s franchise record for victories. Their victory prevented the Milwaukee Bucks from clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
D’Angelo Russell had 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Nets, who fell to 39-40 and missed another chance to improve their playoff situation. They came into play seventh in the East but could have moved ahead of Detroit after the Pistons fell in Indiana.
MAGIC 114, KNICKS 100
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Nikola Vucevic had 29 points and 13 rebounds, and Terrence Ross scored 23 points off the bench as the Magic beat the New York Knicks.
Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon had 19 points apiece for Orlando, which is chasing Miami for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Mario Hezonja scored 22 of his 29 points in the second half, and Kevin Knox had 21 points for New York, which has lost seven of eight.
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