Malone Makes Sure Jazz Will Stay Home
The Utah Jazz clinched homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs Friday night with a 102-99 victory in Phoenix that ended the Suns’ 10-game winning streak.
Karl Malone scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Bryon Russell matched his season-high with 21 points off the bench. Russell made three free throws in the final minute to help secure the victory.
Utah and Chicago can both finish with 62-20 records if the Jazz lose Sunday to the Lakers and the Bulls win today, but Utah has the tiebreaker edge from winning the season series 2-0.
The Jazz has won 32 of its last 36 games.
Rex Chapman scored 25 points and Clifford Robinson had 24 points and seven rebounds for the Suns.
The loss dropped the Suns (55-26) into a tie with San Antonio for the fourth playoff spot in the Western Conference. Phoenix has the tiebreaker edge.
San Antonio 89, Seattle 87--The Spurs knocked Seattle into a tie for the Pacific Division lead as David Robinson, who returned after a three-game absence, and Tim Duncan led the Spurs at Seattle.
Duncan had 31 points and Robinson scored 22.
Orlando 121, New Jersey 109--The Magic played spoilers again in Orlando, handing the Nets their third straight loss. New Jersey has missed three straight chances to clinch a playoff spot.
Nick Anderson scored 29 points and Bo Outlaw had 25 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists as the Magic ruined its opponent’s plans for the second straight game.
The Nets remained in the eighth playoff position, one game ahead of Washington.
Washington 97, Miami 89--Chris Whitney sank four free throws in the final 92 seconds to help stave off a Heat rally at Miami.
Combined with New Jersey’s loss at Orlando, it kept alive the Wizards’ hopes of squeezing into the postseason.
Chicago 87, Philadelphia 80--Amid another sea of flashbulbs in what may have been his last regular-season road game, Michael Jordan scored 24 points at Philadelphia as the Bulls ended a two-game losing streak.
The possibility that Jordan, who has said this might be his last season, might be playing his last game in Philadelphia drew a sellout crowd of 21,305.
Atlanta 121, Charlotte 104--The Hawks had their highest-scoring game of the season and remained alive for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a victory over the Hornets at Atlanta.
Steve Smith scored 27 points, Alan Henderson had 25 and Mookie Blaylock 20 for the Hawks.
Detroit 108, Milwaukee 102--Grant Hill had 31 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists to lead the Pistons at Auburn Hills, Mich.
Minnesota 102, Houston 95--The Timberwolves solidified the order of the final two spots in the Western Conference playoff picture, clinching seventh place with a victory over the eighth-seeded Rockets at Minneapolis.
Indiana 107, Toronto 98--Dale Davis had 20 points and reserve Jalen Rose 19 as the Pacers won at Indianapolis.
Rik Smits continued to show his ailing feet were improving by contributing 17 points.
Boston 78, Cleveland 71--Rick Pitino missed the game and his two best players, Antoine Walker and Ron Mercer, kept missing shots, but the Celtics still won at Boston.
Walker and Mercer each missed 13 of 19 shots, although Walker led the Celtics with 17 points and Mercer had 12.
Denver 109, Portland 101--Anthony Goldwire scored a career-high 22 points as the Nuggets enjoyed their home finale with a victory over the Trail Blazers.
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