Heat, Jazz chase berths in playoffs

MIAMI—The Miami Heat kept their NBA playoff hopes alive Monday with a 124-121 overtime victory over Cleveland that dropped the reigning NBA champion Cavaliers to second in the Eastern Conference.

The Cavs, locked in a duel with the Boston Celtics for the top seed in the East, nevertheless rested stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Miami.

They suffered their second overtime defeat in as many days, having squandered a 26-point fourth-quarter lead in a stunning loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

Against the Heat they took a 91-80 lead into the fourth, but Miami stormed back to force overtime and claim the win.

In Oakland the Utah Jazz, fighting for a playoff position in the Western Conference, up-ended league-leading Golden State 105-99, snapping the Warriors’ 14-game NBA winning streak.

With 20 points from George Hill and 17 points and 18 rebounds from French big man Rudy Gobert, the Jazz kept pace with the Los Angeles Clippers in the battle for the fourth seed in the Western Conference, despite the injury absences of top-scorer Gordon Hayward, forward Derrick Favors, guard Rodney Hood and guard Raul Neto.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, his team already assured of home court advantage throughout the playoffs, was careful with the playing time of his stars.

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) glides to the hoop past two Golden State Warriors defenders Javale McGee (left) and Kevin Durant (right). The Jazz beat Golden State 105-99 on Monday to snap the Warriors’ 14-game NBA winning streak. AFP
Klay Thompson had the night off and Stephen Curry’s strong night ended after three quarters during which he scored 28 points.

“Steph, I just wanted to give him his usual run, but I didn’t want him to finish the game,” Kerr said. “He played the whole third quarter, had a great run, shot the ball well... you know with the playoffs starting Saturday or Sunday, no point in bringing him back in this game.”

Meanwhile, Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris made sure the Detroit Pistons’ Palace at Auburn Hills era wouldn’t end with a victory for the home team.

Beal and Morris scored the Wizards’ last 15 points in a 105-101 victory in the Pistons’ final game at the Palace, their home in the Detroit suburbs since 1988.

Washington coach Scott Brooks put the pair in the game with less than five minutes remaining, when the visitors were leading by two.

“Coach wanted to ruin their going-away party, so he threw me back out there and I just closed it out,” said Beal, who poured in 33 points. “Credit to my teammates. We all did a terrific job throughout the game. We had some letups in the third and fourth quarter, but we did a good job of executing down the stretch.”

The Pistons will be moving to the new downtown Little Caesars Arena next season, where the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings will also play.

Champions from all three NBA title teams that the Palace produced were on hand on Monday to say goodbye, receiving standing ovations from the crowd during a halftime ceremony.

The 29 years of the Palace saw the Pistons “Bad Boys” of Isiah Thomas crowned champions in 1989 and 1990, with Detroit also capturing the title in 2004.

Tyler Johnson had 24 points and Hassan Whiteside added 23 and 18 rebounds as the Heat snapped a three-game home losing streak.

Deron Williams, starting at point guard in place of Irving, led Cleveland with 35 points. Kevin Love added 25 with 10 rebounds before he fouled out with 34 seconds left in overtime. 

With the Celtics beating the Brooklyn Nets 114-105, the defeat dropped the Cavs one game behind Boston for first place in the conference.

For the Heat, the victory means they will be fighting with the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls for the last two playoff spots in the East when the regular season concludes on Wednesday.

The Pacers, with 27 points from Paul George, defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 120-111 on Monday and lie second in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls crushed the Orlando Magic 122-75 and at 40-41 have the same record as Miami with one game remaining for each.

But Chicago own the tiebreaker, so if they finish with the same record as the Heat the Bulls will claim the eighth and final playoff spot.

Robin Lopez scored 18 points and Jimmy Butler and Jerian Grant had 17 apiece to pace the Bulls. Nikola Mirotic added 16 points and veteran Dwyane Wade chipped in 13 as Chicago won by their biggest margin of the season.

Kevin Durant added 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in his second game back from a knee injury.

After a quiet first half, Durant scored eight points in the third quarter, including an explosive move past Jazz guard Dante Exum for a dunk.

The win kept the Jazz tied for fourth seed in the West with the Clippers, who routed the Houston Rockets 125-96.

Topics: Miami Heat , Cleveland Cavaliers , Utah Jazz , NBA playoff
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