Bucks beat Suns, clinch playoff berth with 50th victory
PHOENIX (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 36 points, Brook Lopez added 21 and the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks clinched a playoff spot by beating the Phoenix Suns 116-104 on Tuesday night to become the first team to 50 wins this season.
The Bucks pulled away late for their 21st win in 23 games and are the first team to secure a postseason berth. The Suns have dropped three straight.
Antetokounmpo added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Lopez shot 10 of 14 from the field and added 10 rebounds. The Bucks closed the game on a 24-9 run.
Devin Booker led the Suns with 30 points on 13-of-27 shooting. Deandre Ayton had 19 points and eight rebounds despite playing just 26 minutes because of foul trouble.
RAPTORS 125, NUGGETS 110
TORONTO (AP) — Fred VanVleet scored 36 points, O.G. Anunoby had 24 and Toronto used a franchise-record 49-point first quarter to hand Denver its season-high fourth straight loss.
Nikola Jokic scored 28 points, Michael Porter Jr. had 23 and Aaron Gordon had 18 for the Western Conference-leading Nuggets, who are winless since a March 6 home victory over the Raptors.
VanVleet shot 13 for 22 and made a season-high eight of his 12 attempts from distance as Toronto extended its home winning streak to five.
Jakob Poeltl had 12 points and 11 rebounds, Pascal Siakam scored 12 points and Gary Trent Jr. had 11 for the Raptors.
Jamal Murray shot 5 for 18 and scored 14 points and Bruce Brown added 12, but the Nuggets lost the opener of a season-high, five-game trip.
LAKERS 123, PELICANS 108
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis had 35 points and 17 rebounds, Malik Beasley hit seven 3-pointers in the first half, and Los Angeles built a 36-point lead in the second quarter in its win over New Orleans.
Beasley finished with 24 points for the Lakers, who shot 18 of 39 from 3-point range — including 15 of 27 before halftime. D’Angelo Russell added 17 points to help Los Angeles (34-35) move one game ahead of New Orleans (33-36) in the Western Conference standings.
Brandon Ingram returned to New Orleans’ lineup after missing two games with a right ankle injury, but his 22 points were not nearly enough.
Herbert Jones and Trey Murphy III each scored 20 for the Pelicans, who trailed 75-40 at halftime.
KNICKS 123, TRAIL BLAZERS 107
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Immanuel Quickley scores 26 points and New York mounted a rally in the third quarter to beat Portland.
Julius Randle added 24 points for the Knicks, who were again without injured guard Jalen Brunson.
Quickley scored 14 of his points in the third quarter and the Knicks outscored the Blazers 42-26 to lead 91-81 lead going into the final period. The Knicks stretched the lead to 108-92 on former Blazer Josh Hart’s layup with 7:32 left in the game. New York led by as many as 19 points in the fourth.
Damian Lillard was questionable before the game with a calf injury, but he started for Portland and led all scorers with 38 points.
SPURS 132, MAGIC 114
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Jeremy Sochan had 29 points and 10 rebounds and San Antonio had a franchise-high 22 3-pointers and season-high 39 assists in beating Orlando.
San Antonio center Zach Collins added 25 points, six rebounds and five assists. The Spurs are 6-27 in 2023, but have now won four of seven.
Orlando rookie Paolo Banchero had 27 points and Wendell Carter Jr. added 16 points. The Magic have lost five of their last seven games in their push for a berth in the postseason play-in tournament.
Sochan returned from a one-game absence, but the Spurs were without Keldon Johnson, Malaki Branham, Tre Jones, Rome Langford. The Spurs responded with their best shooting game of the season, making 57% of its shots from the field and going 22 fof 41 from 3-point range.
THUNDER 121, NETS 107
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 35 points, Josh Giddey had 15 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists and Oklahoma City beat Brooklyn for its sixth win in seven games.
Lu Dort matched his season high with 24 points and added nine rebounds for Oklahoma City, which rallied from a 14-point, first-half deficit thanks mostly to a sizzling third quarter, during which Dort made five 3-pointers.
Mikal Bridges scored 34 points and Cam Johnson added 23 for Brooklyn, which had won five of its last six games, with four of those wins on the road.
WIZARDS 117, PISTONS 97
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bradley Beal scored 36 points, and Washington snapped its three-game losing streak with a victory over Detroit.
Playing without Kyle Kuzma, the Wizards still raced out to a 22-point advantage in the first quarter, and although they’ve had issues holding those types of leads this season, the last-place Pistons represented little threat.
Washington (32-37) moved percentage points ahead of Chicago (31-36) for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference.
Killian Hayes scored 20 points to lead Detroit, which had snapped an 11-game skid by beating Indiana on Monday.
CAVALIERS 120, HORNETS 104
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Evan Mobley had 26 points and Cleveland scored 35 points off Charlotte turnovers and beat the Hornets for the second time in three days.
Cedi Osman scored 24 points off the bench and Caris LeVert added 22 points and seven assists for the Cavaliers, who played without All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell (sprained finger) and center Jarrett Allen (eye contusion). Darius Garland chipped in 19 points.
Kelly Oubre Jr. had 28 points and Terry Rozier added 22 points and 10 assists for the Hornets, who have lost three straight and fell to 11-27 at home.
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The Associated Press