NBA roundup: Rockets clinch final playoff spot in West

NBA roundup: Rockets clinch final playoff spot in West
Rockets guard James Harden pulls up for a jump shot over Kings guard James Anderson during the first half Wednesday. (Stacy Revere / Getty Images)

James Harden scored 38 points and the Houston Rockets clinched the final Western Conference playoff spot with an easy 116-81 victory over the visiting Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

The Rockets won their last three games to sneak into the playoffs after losing three of the previous four to fall behind Utah and into ninth place in the West. Houston will meet top-seed Golden State in the first round of the playoffs this weekend.


Ben McLemore had 24 points for the Kings, in what was probably coach George Karl's final game with the team amid reports that he could be fired as soon as Thursday. Karl went 44-68 since taking the job in February 2015, and this season is the 10th straight season in which the Kings did not make the playoffs.

at Boston 98, Miami 88: Isaiah Thomas had 21 points to help the Celtics rally from 26 points down to beat the Heat. Coupled with Atlanta's loss to Washington, Boston earned the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Miami scored only five points in the third quarter.

at Minnesota 114, New Orleans 109: Karl-Anthony Towns had 28 points and 14 rebounds and the Timberwolves sent Coach Sam Mitchell out in style. Shabazz Muhammad scored 28 points for the Timberwolves (29-53), who learned before the game that owner Glen Taylor planned to open up a search for a new president of basketball operations and coach.

Toronto 103, at Brooklyn 96: Rookie Norman Powell scored a career-high 30 points and the Raptors wrapped up the best regular season in franchise history (56-26). With the No. 2 seed in the East already secured, the Raptors didn't even bring All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, plus Jonas Valanciunas, James Johnson and DeMarre Carroll to the game.

at Charlotte 117, Orlando 103: Al Jefferson scored 26 points as the playoff-bound Charlotte Hornets closed out their best regular season in 16 years (48-34).

at Chicago 115, Philadelphia 105: Nikola Mirotic scored 32 points, Justin Holliday added a career-high 29, and the Bulls closed a disappointing season with a victory over the 76ers, who had an NBA-worst mark of 10-72.

Detroit 112, at Cleveland 110 (OT): All the starters for both teams rested for their first-round playoff matchup as Jodie Meeks scored 20 to lead the Pistons.

San Antonio 96, at Dallas 91: Rookies Boban Marjanovic and Jonathon Simmons set career scoring highs and the Spurs rallied past the Mavericks despite sitting four starters and two key reserves in a meaningless regular-season finale for them.

at Washington 109, Atlanta 98: With a seemingly halfhearted showing in their final regular-season game, the Hawks lost to a bunch of backups for the Wizards and wound up with the No. 4 seed in the East.

Indiana 97, at Milwaukee 92: Solomon Hill scored a season-high 25 points, and the Pacers won despite resting four starters.

at Portland 107, Denver 99: Damian Lillard had 21 points and the Trail Blazers warmed up for their playoff series against the Clippers.