NEW ORLEANS (AP) — LeBron James scored 25 points before he appeared to mildly aggravate a right ankle injury and the Los Angeles Lakers closed out the regular season with a 110-98 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.
While the victory was the Lakers’ fifth straight, it was not enough to pull them high enough in the Western Conference standings to skip the NBA’s new play-in format involving the seventh through 10th seeds.
No. 7 Los Angeles will host No. 8 Golden State on night in the Western Conference play-in with the winner taking the seventh seed and a spot against Phoenix and the loser having to play another game to determine the eighth seed.
Willie Hernangomez had 19 points and 13 rebounds for New Orleans.
WARRIORS 113, GRIZZLIES 101
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry became the oldest scoring champion since Michael Jordan at age 35 in 1998, finishing with 46 points as Golden State held off Memphis in a regular-season finale that determined the play-in tournament’s eighth and ninth spots.
The Warriors wrapped up the No. 8 seed and will play Wednesday at the Los Angeles Lakers, while Memphis finished ninth and will host San Antonio on Wednesday.
At 33, Curry and Jordan are the only scoring champions age 33 or older. Curry also joins Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players with multiple scoring titles, MVPs and championships.
Two-time MVP Curry locked up his first scoring title since 2015-16 with his second basket of the game late in the first quarter. He made 9 of 22 3s and also contributed nine assists and seven rebounds in Golden State’s sixth straight win. Curry averaged 32 points during his second 2,000-point season.
Jonas Valanciunas led Memphis with 29 points and 16 rebounds.
NETS 123, CAVALIERS 109
NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant had 23 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds and Brooklyn beat Cleveland to take the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Kyrie Irving added 17 points for the Nets, who will open the playoffs next weekend against either Boston or Washington. The Celtics and Wizards will meet Tuesday in the play-in tournament to determine the No. 7 seed.
Durant made his first eight shots, one of them a dunk to finish one of the highlight plays of the season, to bounce back nicely from a 4-for-17 outing Saturday. It was a strong finale to his first season back after missing 2019-20 while recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Cleveland's Collin Sexton scored 16 points but was ejected midway through the third quarter for a flagrant foul against Durant.
JAZZ 121, KINGS 99
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Jordan Clarkson scored 33 points, Rudy Gobert added 13 points and 16 rebounds and Utah beat Sacramento to take the the No. 1 spot in the NBA playoffs.
Utah (52-20) won its final two to edge Western Conference-rival Phoenix for the top spot. It’s the first time in franchise history that the Jazz have finished with sole possession of the best record in the NBA.
Utah awaits one of the surviving teams from the play-in games that begin Tuesday and end Friday.
Terence Davis had 20 points for Sacramento.
SUNS 123, SPURS 121
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — E’Twaun Moore scored 22 points and made a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds remaining to lift Phoenix past San Antonio.
The Suns finished second overall in the NBA, a game behind behind West-rival Utah when the Jazz beat Sacramento later Sunday.
Playing without Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton, the Suns were bailed out late by Moore. He also made a 3 with 1:08 remaining to stop a 9-0 run by San Antonio and finished 9 of 10 from the field. Jevon Carter has 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and Cameron Payne also had 19 points.
DeMar DeRozan had 23 points for San Antonio.
KNICKS 96, CELTICS 92
NEW YORK (AP) — Julius Randle capped his All-Star season with 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists New York beat Boston to take the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
RJ Barrett scored 22 points for the Knicks. They won their third straight to finish 41-31 and set up a first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks. The Knicks are headed to the playoffs for the first time since winning the Atlantic Division title in 2012-13.
Jabari Parker scored 18 points for Boston. The Celtics were already locked into the play-in tournament at the No. 7 spot and rested all their top players. They will face Washington.
WIZARDS 115, HORNETS 110
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bradley Beal scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and Washington rallied to beat Charlotte to finish eighth in the Eastern Conference.
The Wizards will play at Boston in a play-in game. The Hornets closed the regular season on a five-game losing streak to drop to the 10th spot in the East and will play at Indiana in the play-in round.
Russell Westbrook had 23 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists for Washington for his 184th career triple-double — three more than Oscar Robertson’s previous NBA record — and 38th this season alone.
HAWKS 124, ROCKETS 95
ATLANTA (AP) — Rookie Onyeka Okongwu set career highs with 21 points and 14 rebounds and Atlanta beat Houston.
The Hawks went with a makeshift lineup after their Eastern Conference playoff spot was locked in before taking the court.
New York clinched the fourth seed and home-court advantage in the first round against the fifth-seeded Hawks with a 96-92 victory over Boston.
Atlanta raced away from Houston in the second quarter and led 72-54 at halftime as Collins scored 15 points, De’Andre Hunter added 13 and Young 10.
Houston finished 17-55, the worst record in the league and its most dismal season since a 14-68 campaign in 1982-83. D.J. Augustin and Armoni Brooks each scored 18 points to lead the injury-ravaged Rockets.
PACERS 125, RAPTORS 113
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Oshae Brissett scored a career-best 31 points, Domantas Sabonis added 25 points, 16 rebounds and three steals and Indiana beat Toronto to lock up the Eastern Conference’s ninth seed.
Indiana snapped a two-game losing streak and secured home-court advantage for a play-in game against Charlotte.
Malachi Flynn scored a career-best 27 points for Toronto.
76ERS 128, MAGIC 117
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tyrese Maxey had 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia beat Orlando in a meaningless regular-season finale.
Philadelphia didn’t play any of its usual starters after clinching the top spot in the East with Friday’s victory over the Magic. Joel Embiid (illness), Ben Simmons (back), Tobias Harris (right knee), Seth Curry (right hip) and Danny Green (left hip) were all sidelined.
Cole Anthony scored a career-high 37 points for the injury-plagued Magic.
TRAIL BLAZERS 132, NUGGETS 116
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard had 22 points and 10 assists and Portland beat Denver to secure their eighth straight playoff berth, the longest active streak in the NBA.
The Blazers secured the sixth seed, which means they’ll face the Nuggets in the opening round. Denver wound up with the third seed in a crazy night that saw the West’s teams in a scramble for playoff position. Denver was assured of the No. 3 seed when the Clippers fell to the Thunder.
CJ McCollum added 24 points for the Blazers. Denver's Nikola Jokic had 21 points in the opening half then sat for the rest of the game.
HEAT 120, PISTONS 107
DETROIT (AP) — Nemanja Bjelica scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half and Miami routed Detroit despite holding out several key players in a relatively meaningless game.
Precious Achiuwa scored a career-high 23 points and Max Strus added 20 for the Heat.
Miami, locked into the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, played without Bam Adebayo (rest), Trevor Ariza (rest), Jimmy Butler (lower back), Goran Dragic (lower back, right knee), Andre Iguodala (left hip) and Kendrick Nunn (left calf).
Saddiq Bey led the Pistons with 22 points.
TIMBERWOLVES 136, MAVERICKS 121
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Edwards scored 30 points in his final audition for NBA Rookie of the Year, leading Minnesota past Dallas.
Luka Doncic had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists in 21 minutes for the Mavericks, who were unharmed by the meaningless defeat. They get the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, pitted against the No. 4 seed Los Angeles Clippers in a first-round series beginning next weekend.
BULLS 118, BUCKS 112
CHICAGO (AP) — Thaddeus Young scored 20 points, Coby White added 19 and Chicago beat Milwaukee with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the rest of the Bucks’ starters missing the regular-season finale.
Milwaukee finished third in the East and will face Miami in the first round.
Bucks rookie Jordan Nwora set career highs with 34 points and 14 rebounds.
THUNDER 117, CLIPPERS 112
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Rookie Aleksej Pokusevski scored a career-high 29 points and Oklahoma City beat Los Angeles. to snap a nine-game losing streak
Terance Mann scored 19 points for the Clippers, who ended up with the No 4 seed in the Western Conference. Los Angeles sat stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for the second straight game.
The Associated Press