Knicks move closer to playoffs behind Brunson's 48 vs. Cavs

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Jalen Brunson scored a career-high 48 points and the New York Knicks moved closer to a playoff berth while waiting for All-Star Julius Randle to get healthy, outrunning the Cleveland Cavaliers 130-116 on Friday night.

The Knicks reduced their magic number to one in their first game without Randle, who sprained his left ankle Wednesday and will miss the rest of the regular season. New York hopes he’ll be back for the postseason and a potential first-round matchup against the Cavs.

New York won the season series 3-1 and denied Cleveland a chance to lock up home-court advantage in the first round.

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Donovan Mitchell scored 42 points to lead Cleveland, which closed within 123-116 before Brunson, who had seven 3-pointers and nine assists, put the Cavs away with a layup and 3-pointer. Brunson missed a floater in the final seconds that would have given him 50 points.


BOSTON (AP) — Jayson Tatum had 39 points and 11 assists and Boston pushed past Utah.

Malcolm Brogdon added 19 points and Derrick White finished with 17 as Boston continued to gain ground on the Milwaukee Bucks in the race for the Eastern Conference’s top playoff seed. Boston had 17 3-pointers, including five by Tatum.

The Celtics (54-24) are 1 1/2 games behind Milwaukee (55-22) and were coming off a 41-point win over the Bucks on Thursday. Milwaukee is off until Sunday, when it hosts the 76ers. The Celtics have four games remaining.

Talen Horton-Tucker led Utah with 28 points and eight assists. Walker Kessler added 20 points and 10 rebounds.

NETS 124, HAWKS 107

NEW YORK (AP) — Mikal Bridges had 42 points to continue his torrid scoring stretch in Brooklyn and the Nets increased their lead for the final guaranteed playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by beating Atlanta.

Dorrian Finney-Smith added 19 points in his best game with the Nets, who led by only four at halftime before outscoring the Hawks 42-24 in the third quarter to open a 101-79 lead. Brooklyn moved two games ahead of idle Miami for the No. 6 spot with five games to play.

Bridges surpassed 40 points for the second time in three games and the third time since coming to the Nets in February. He finished March with 461 points, the second-highest total by a Nets player in their NBA franchise history in a month beyond the 471 scored by Kevin Durant — the player traded by the Nets in the package for Bridges — last November.

Dejounte Murray scored 21 points for the Hawks.

76ERS 117, RAPTORS 110

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had 25 points and 12 rebounds, James Harden had 23 points and 11 assists and Philadelphia topped Toronto.

The Sixers made 30 of 39 shots (77%) in the first half and raced to a 24-point lead that nearly evaporated. Fred VanVleet, who scored 16 points, buried a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter that pulled the Raptors to 103-101 and silenced the sellout crowd.

Embiid, though, steadied the 76ers with a jumper and PJ Tucker buried a 3 that gave them some breathing room. Harden drove to the hoop for a bucket and a 110-101 edge that forced the Raptors to call timeout.

The Raptors didn’t have another run in them. Scottie Barnes scored 29 points and OG Anunoby had 19.


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan each scored 23 points and Chicago routed injury-plagued Charlotte.

Nikola Vucevic added 21 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls, who entered the game having lost three of their previous five games and clinging to the final spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament. However, Chicago’s win combined with the Orlando Magic’s 116-109 victory over Washington on Friday night left the Bulls three games ahead of the Wizards for the 10th spot in the East with five games remaining.

James Bouknight had 22 points behind six 3-pointers to lead the Hornets. They had their three-game winning snapped and lost yet another key player to injury. P.J. Washington, who scored a career-high 43 points Tuesday night in a 137-134 win over Oklahoma City, left in the second quarter with a sprained foot and did not return.


WASHINGTON (AP) — Paolo Banchero had 30 points and 12 rebounds, Markelle Fultz added 25 points and Orlando overcame a 16-point second half deficit to beat Washington.

The Wizards managed only 13 points in the final quarter and fell to three games behind Chicago for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference with five games remaining. Orlando remained four games behind the Bulls, who routed Charlotte 121-91.

Washington was without its top three players — Bradley Beal (left knee), Kristaps Porzingis (illness) and Kyle Kuzma (right ankle). Corey Kispert scored a career-high 27 points for Washington, but did not manage a shot attempt in the fourth until the final minute. He made nine of the Wizards’ 17 3-pointers.


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — T.J. McConnell had 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, Jalen Smith added 12 points and 15 rebounds and short-handed Indiana held off Oklahoma City.

Playing without injured All-Star Tyrese Haliburton and starting center Myles Turner, the Pacers shot 46% and outrebounded the Thunder 64-49. They had lost six of their last seven. Andrew Nembhard had 18 points and six rebounds for Indiana. Jordan Nwora, Isaiah Jackson and Buddy Hield each scored 13 points.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 39 points, going 17 of 17 on free throws, and nine rebounds for the Thunder. Josh Giddey added 21 points and seven rebounds for Oklahoma City.

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