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Pierce scores 36 as Celtics beat Wade-less Heat

PAUL Pierce scored 36 points as the Boston Celtics clinched the Atlantic Division title with a 112-108 victory yesterday over the Miami Heat, who played without NBA scoring-leader Dwyane Wade.

Wade missed his first game of the season because of a right hip flexor.

But Boston was without Kevin Garnett for the 13th straight game with a strained right knee and Ray Allen, who hyperextended his elbow Tuesday night in a loss at Chicago.

Rajon Rondo had 27 for Boston. Miami, in its third overtime game in its last five, was led by Michael Beasley with 21 points and Mario Chalmers with 19.

Wade's injury ended his career-long streak off 66 straight games played. The Heat did not say how long he would be sidelined, and he was not ruled out of games Friday night at New Jersey and Sunday against Detroit.

Suns 126, 76ers 116

At Phoenix, Jason Richardson scored 23 of his 25 points in the second half, and Shaquille O'Neal had 26 points and 11 rebounds in Phoenix's twin over Philadelphia.

Steve Nash added 24 points and 10 assists to help the Suns move within four games of idle Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Andre Miller had 23 points and eight assists, and Thaddeus Young also had 23 points for Philadelphia. The loss ended the 76ers' winning streak at four games.

Rockets 106, Pistons 101, 2 OT

At Houston, Yao Ming scored 31 points and Ron Artest added 26 to lead Houston past undermanned Detroit.

Aaron Brooks scored seven of his 14 points in the extra periods, helping the Rockets stay in third place in the Western Conference standings.

Arron Afflalo scored 24 points, Rodney Stuckey added 21 points with 10 assists and Antonio McDyess grabbed 20 rebounds for the Pistons, who played without Richard Hamilton (groin), Allen Iverson (back) and Rasheed Wallace (calf strain).

Hornets 94, Timberwolves 93

At New Orleans, Chris Paul capped a 26-point, 10-assist, five-steal performance for New Orleans by setting up David West's dunk with 12.6 seconds left against Minnesota.

Minnesota's Randy Foye missed a 17-foot jumper as time expired, allowing New Orleans to escape with the victory. But it was an officials' review of a long-range shot Foye made earlier in the fourth quarter that also affected the outcome. The shot was initially ruled a 3, but the Wolves had a point taken off the board after a replay review during a timeout a few minutes later.

Kevin Love had 23 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota.

Bulls 103, Thunder 96

At Oklahoma City, Derrick Rose scored 20 of his 25 points and didn't miss a shot in the second half as Chicago snapped a seven-game road losing streak with a win over Oklahoma City.

Rose was unstoppable in the second half. The No. 1 pick in last year's draft hit all 10 of his shots. Russell Westbrook, the fourth overall pick in the draft, had 15 points

Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 28 points.

Magic 106, Bucks 80

At Milwaukee, Dwight Howard had 28 points and came up three assists short of a triple double, powering Orlando past Milwaukee.

Howard finished with 12 rebounds and seven assists, while Hedo Turkoglu added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando. The Magic rebounded from a loss to Cleveland on Tuesday night to win for the eighth time in their last 10 games.

Charlie Villanueva had 17 points for the Bucks.

Nets 115, Knicks 89

At New York, Vince Carter scored 29 points and Brook Lopez had 23 to help New Jersey beat New York and salvage the final game of an otherwise miserable five-game trip.

The Nets lost the first four games of the trip out West, losing All-Star point guard Devin Harris to a sprained left shoulder along the way. Al Harrington scored 21 points, and Nate Robinson had 18 points for New York.

Trail Blazers 95, Pacers 85

At Indianapolis, Brandon Roy scored 20 points, and Portland center Greg Oden won his first pro game in his hometown.

Oden, the top pick in the 2007 draft, returned to Portland's lineup after missing more than a month because of a bone chip in his left knee. He finished with four points and seven rebounds in 12 minutes.

Danny Granger had 35 points and 10 rebounds in his first start for Indiana since leaving a game Feb. 18 against Charlotte because of a right foot injury.

Bobcats 104, Kings 88

At Charlotte, North Carolina, Gerald Wallace had 25 points and 12 rebounds as Charlotte beat short-handed Sacramento to keep the Kings winless against the Eastern Conference.

Emeka Okafor added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Bobcats, who pulled away in the fourth quarter as the Kings played without top scorer Kevin Martin (illness), Andres Nocioni (quadriceps) and then lost Rashad McCants (ankle) after he scored 30 points.

Nuggets 111, Grizzlies 109

At Memphis, Tennessee, Carmelo Anthony scored 35 points, including the go-ahead three-point play with 33.2 remaining, as Denver overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to beat Memphis.

The Nuggets snapped a six-game road losing streak. Chauncey Billups added 18 points and 12 assists for Denver.

Rudy Gay led Memphis with 30 points.

Clippers 123, Wizards 108

At Los Angeles, Eric Gordon scored 15 of his 26 points in the third quarter, and Baron Davis tied a career high with 20 assists as Los Angeles downed Washington.

Steve Novak had 21 points for the Clippers, and Davis added 11 points and eight rebounds. Antawn Jamison led Washington with 24 points.


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