J.J. Barea leads Dallas Mavericks to a pivotal victory over Houston Rockets

J.J. Barea; James Harden

Mavericks guard J.J. Barea (5) drives to the basket against Rockets guard James Harden during the second half Wednesday.

(Ron Jenkins / Associated Press)

J.J. Barea scored 27 points Wednesday night and the Dallas Mavericks kept a slim cushion over the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets in the race for the last two Western Conference playoff spots with an 88-86 victory over the Rockets at Dallas.

The Mavericks’ fifth consecutive victory left them a game ahead of the Jazz and two up on the Rockets with four games remaining for all three teams.

Dirk Nowitzki was limited to seven points on eight shots but had a crucial strip of James Harden on a drive in the final seconds with the Mavericks clinging to a one-point lead.

at Portland 120, Oklahoma City 115: Al-Farouq Aminu scored 27 points, C.J. McCollum had 26 and the Trail Blazers clinched a playoff berth.


at Indiana 123, Cleveland 109: Paul George scored 29 points to lead the rout of the Cavaliers, who played without a resting LeBron James. The Pacers ended a four-game losing streak in the series and still lead the eighth-place Detroit Pistons by a half-game in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The ninth-place Chicago Bulls, still vying for one of the final two playoff spots in the East, trail the Pacers by thee games.

Detroit 108, at Orlando 104: Reggie Jackson scored 24 points to help the Pistons a half-game behind the Pacers.

Charlotte 111, at New York 97: Kemba Walker scored 34 points, Al Jefferson scored 24 and the Hornets bounced back from consecutive losses to renew their hopes of getting home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

at Washington 121, Brooklyn 103: Ramon Sessions, starting in place of the injured John Wall, had 18 points and a season-high 13 assists to help the Wizards remain at last mathematically alive in the playoff race.


The 10th-place Wizards (38-40) need to win out, have the Pistons (42-37) lose out and overcome the Bulls (39-39) to make the playoffs.

at Boston 104, New Orleans 97: Isaiah Thomas scored 32 points to help the Celtics fend off the short-handed Pelicans.

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