Thunder clinch West's second seed
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 112
DETROIT PISTONS 111
Kevin Durant's dunk with 16.5 seconds to play lifted Oklahoma City to a 112-111 victory over Detroit Pistons yesterday morning (Singapore time) on the final night of the NBA regular season.
With the victory, the Thunder secured the second seed in the Western Conference play-offs.
Durant drove past Kyle Singler on the left side for the two-handed slam - giving the Thunder their first lead since early in the third quarter. Detroit's Brandon Jennings couldn't get an off-balance three-point attempt to fall in at the buzzer.
Durant scored 29 of his 42 points in the second half, including 21 in the fourth quarter, and sealed his fourth NBA scoring title in the last five years.
"A lot of good things took place, a lot of improvement and growth," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Oklahoma City's season.
"I thought our guys really competed all year. With that said, I'm not overly thrilled with how we played tonight."
The Thunder will open the playoffs on Saturday against the Memphis Grizzlies, who defeated the Dallas Mavericks 106-105 in overtime in a battle for the seventh seed in the West.
KEY MEN RESTED
Oklahoma City's victory meant the Los Angeles Clippers were sure to be the West's third seed, even before they finished the season with a 110-104 loss at the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Clippers will face sixth-seeded Golden State in the first round, while fourth-seeded Houston will face the No. 5 Blazers.
The eighth-seeded Mavericks will face the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs.
San Antonio, who had already clinched the best record in the league and the top seed in the West, were among the teams who rested key players in their regular-season finales.
Tim Duncan sat out the entire game and All-Star point guard Tony Parker skipped the second half as the disappointing Los Angeles Lakers downed the Spurs 113-100.
The Toronto Raptors wrapped up the third seed in the Eastern Conference, despite falling to the New York Knicks.
J.R. Smith scored 30 points to lead the Knicks - already eliminated from post-season contention - in a 95-92 triumph at Madison Square Garden.
New York erased a 21-point first-half deficit against a Raptors team who rested most of their starters for the second half, after learning they had secured the third seed after Chicago's 91-86 overtime loss to Charlotte Bobcats.
The Raptors will take on the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the play-offs.
All 16 play-off teams, eight in the East and eight in the West, had been decided before yesterday's final regular-season games, but some of the seedings to decide the first-round match-ups were still at stake.
The Washington Wizards rolled to a 118-102 victory over the Boston Celtics to secure the No. 5 seed in the East.
The Wizards won their last four games of the regular season for their best record in nine years (44-38) and will face the fourth-seeded Bulls in Chicago on Sunday in their first play-off game in six years.
Eastern top seeds Indiana Pacers closed out the season with a 101-86 victory over Orlando Magic and will face the Atlanta Hawks in the first round in a rematch of last year's first-round series won in six games by the Pacers.
Two-time defending champions Miami Heat, already assured of the Southeast Division title and second seed in the East, rested regular starters LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Mario Chalmers in a 100-87 loss to Philadelphia 76ers.
"There's a storm coming and it's time for us to really start preparing for that storm and getting ready for an incredible journey that's going to test all of us," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, looking forward to the post-season.
Dwyane Wade started and had 16 points for the Heat, who will take on Charlotte in the first round of the play-offs. - AFP.
EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAY-OFFS
- Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks
- Miami Heat v Charlotte Bobcats
- Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets
- Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards
WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAY-OFFS
- San Antonio Spurs v Dallas Mavericks
- Oklahoma City Thunder v Memphis Grizzlies
- Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors
- Houston Rockets v Portland Trail Blazers