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Magic throttle Cavaliers 116-87

DWIGHT Howard had 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Orlando Magic rode a strong second-half start to go ahead by 41 points and hand the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers their most lopsided loss of the season with a 116-87 blowout yesterday.

Rashard Lewis had 22 points, and Hedo Turkoglu added 13 for the Magic, who remained percentage points behind Boston - but tied in the loss column - for the Eastern Conference's second seed.

LeBron James finished with 26 points and nine rebounds, but shot 7-for-20 from the floor. James stayed in for part of the fourth quarter to help Cleveland dodge its worst loss since he was drafted in 2003. Cleveland's 35-point loss at Detroit on November 11, 2007, was the most lopsided in the LeBron Era, and a 17-point loss against the Lakers in January had been the Cavs' worst this season.

Heat 97, Bobcats 92

At Charlotte, North Carolina, Dwyane Wade had 27 points and 10 assists as Miami clinched a playoff berth a year after an ugly 15-win season by beating Charlotte.

Joining the 1968-69 San Diego Rockets as only the second NBA team to reach the playoffs after going 15-67 the season before, the Heat rallied from an early 15-point deficit to snap a two-game losing streak.

Gerald Wallace had 21 points in a damaging loss for the Bobcats, who dropped their second straight to fall two games behind idle Chicago for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Lakers 93, Rockets 81

At Los Angeles, Pau Gasol had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Kobe Bryant added 20 points as the Los Angeles Lakers downed Houston for their 60th victory.

Derek Fisher added 15 for the Lakers, who reached 60 wins for the 11th time in franchise history and the first since they went 67-15 in 1999-2000. Los Angeles pulled within a game of Cleveland for the NBA's best record.

Ron Artest had 21 points for Houston.

Celtics 104, Hawks 92

At Boston, Paul Pierce scored 21 points, and Rajon Rondo had 20 to help Boston beat Atlanta and maintain its hold on the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.

Kendrick Perkins had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Glen "Big Baby" Davis added 19 points in place of Kevin Garnett, who missed his fourth straight game and his 17th of 21 because of a right knee strain. Flip Murray had 21 points for Atlanta.

Spurs 126, Pacers 121

At Indianapolis, Tony Parker had 31 points and 10 assists, and Tim Duncan had 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead San Antonio past Indiana.

Michael Finley added 18 points, and Drew Gooden had 17 for the Spurs, a half-game behind Denver in the race for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Danny Granger had 35 points for Indiana, four games behind Chicago for the No. 8 spot in the East.

Suns 139, Kings 111

At Phoenix, Steve Nash had 29 points and nine assists to help Phoenix beat Sacramento and gain ground in its last-ditch playoff drive.

The Suns' seventh straight home victory, combined with Dallas' 107-102 loss at Memphis, left Phoenix three games behind the Mavericks for the final playoff spot in the West with six to play. The Suns are at Dallas on Sunday.

Francisco Garcia scored 29 for Sacramento.

Trail Blazers 107, Thunder 72

At Oklahoma City, LaMarcus Aldridge had 35 points and a career-high 18 rebounds as Portland beat Oklahoma City to close in on a playoff spot.

Brandon Roy added 15 points for Portland. Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 13.

Grizzlies 107, Mavericks 102

At Memphis, Tennessee, Rudy Gay had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Mike Conley added 25 points as Memphis downed Dallas for its third straight victory and fourth in five games.

Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki scored 25 of his 36 points in the second half.

Timberwolves 103, Jazz 102

At Salt Lake City, Rodney Carney scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, including a tiebreaking 3-pointer with a minute left, as Minnesota snapped a nine-game road skid and ended Utah's home winning streak at 15.

Ryan Gomes also scored 25 points for Minnesota. Deron Williams missed a shot at the buzzer that would have won it for Utah. He finished with 34 points and 11 assists.

Warriors 111, Hornets 103

At Oakland, California, Jamal Crawford scored 39 points, and Anthony Randolph had 20 points and a career-high 15 rebounds as Golden State downed New Orleans.

Anthony Morrow had 24 points on a career-high five 3-pointers, the last of which gave the Warriors a 99-92 lead with 2:36 remaining. New Orleans' Chris Paul had 43 points, nine assists and four rebounds, and David West added 31 points and 14 rebounds.


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