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Pistons Beat Kings With a Fast Finish

From Associated Press

The Detroit Pistons closed the game with a 15-1 run to defeat the Sacramento Kings, 99-88, Sunday at Auburn Hills, Mich.

The Pistons -- who trailed by 21 points midway through the second quarter and by 10 after three quarters -- handed Chris Webber his first loss against Detroit as a member of the Kings.

“I’m used to coming out of here with a win,” said Webber, who was born and raised in Detroit and played at Michigan.

Webber, who scored 22 points, missed two shots, had two turnovers and missed a free throw in the final 4:07. In all, he missed 16 of 25 shots.

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Detroit moved 1 1/2 games ahead of New Jersey for the best record in the Eastern Conference and maintained its 3 1/2-game lead over Indiana in the Central Division.

Detroit outscored Sacramento, 14-3, to open the fourth quarter and take an 81-80 lead -- its first since the opening minutes -- with 7:32 left. The Kings went ahead, 87-84, on Peja Stojakovic’s layup with 5:08 left, but then scored only one point the rest of the way.

Dallas 119, Minnesota 95 -- Dirk Nowitzki scored 33 points in 34 minutes at Minneapolis as the Mavericks prevented the Timberwolves from clinching their seventh consecutive playoff berth.

Steve Nash had a season-high 15 assists to go with 14 points in only three quarters, and reserve Nick Van Exel had 19 points and nine assists for the Mavericks, who led, 100-71, after the third quarter.

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Dallas (55-18), with the league’s best record, has had a playoff berth sewn up for some time, but San Antonio is only two games back in the Midwest Division. If the Mavericks don’t finish first, they can do no better than the No. 3 seeding, since the Midwest and Pacific Division winners get the top two spots.

San Antonio 92, New Orleans 90 -- After reaching 30 points for the second night in a row, Tim Duncan had one more big play.

Having saved a possession by diving for a loose ball and calling timeout, he made a three-point shot off an inbounds play with 32 seconds left to give the Spurs the win at New Orleans.

Duncan’s 33 points and 12 rebounds came one night after he scored 30 points in 32 minutes in a blowout victory over the Utah Jazz.

Indiana 92, Phoenix 81 -- By winning at Indianapolis, the Pacers clinched their 13th playoff berth in the last 14 seasons.

They have won two in a row after losing 15 of 19 to fall into fourth place in the Eastern Conference. They have two games left with teams ahead of them in the standings -- Detroit on Friday and New Jersey on April 16.

Toronto 95, New York 86 -- The loss at Toronto hurt the Knicks’ slim playoff hopes. They have lost three in a row, four of five and trail eighth-place Milwaukee by three games and are 2 1/2 games behind ninth-place Washington.

Vince Carter scored 28 points to lead the Raptors, including a jumper that gave them a nine-point lead with 1:12 left.

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Denver 88, Washington 72 -- Shammond Williams scored eight consecutive points early in the fourth quarter to help give the Nuggets a 13-point lead and they went on to spoil Michael Jordan’s final appearance in Denver. Jordan, who plans to retire after this season, scored 19 points.

Milwaukee 109, Miami 87 -- Gary Payton scored 24 points and Sam Cassell had 23 points and nine assists at Milwaukee as the Bucks ended a three-game losing streak and handed the Heat its 12th loss in 16 games.


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