tampabay.com

Three teams in East join postseason party

By wire services
Published April 14, 2005


INDIANAPOLIS - Reggie Miller's resurgence has the Pacers back in the playoffs. His teammates hope they can extend his career with one more memorable postseason run.

Miller scored seven of his 22 points in a late 22-second flurry to help Indiana rally from a six-point deficit and beat New Jersey 90-86 Wednesday night, clinching Indiana's eighth straight playoff berth.

"Reggie is such a class guy and such a professional and such a great teammate, you definitely don't want to let him down," Pacers guard Anthony Johnson said. "A lot of it has to do with him and trying to send him out the right way."

New Jersey dropped 11/2 games behind idle Philadelphia in the race for the final East playoff spot.

Miller completed a rare four-point play to cut Indiana's deficit to 83-81, then hit another 3 to tie it at 84 with 2:00 left. James Jones followed with a 22-footer to make it 86-84 with 1:12 left.

WIZARDS 93, BULLS 82: Washington is in the playoffs for the first time since 1997, clinching a spot moments after beating short-handed Chicago. New Jersey's loss sewed up a berth for the Wizards.

Washington's players remained on the court after their game to watch the Nets-Pacers conclusion, which was broadcast on the MCI Center's scoreboard.

CELTICS 111, BUCKS 108: Paul Pierce scored 32, including the winning basket with 19 seconds left, as visiting Boston clinched a playoff berth and increased its lead in the Atlantic Division over Philadelphia to 31/2 games with four to play. Boston's magic number to clinch the title is two.

T'WOLVES 116, WARRIORS 100: Kevin Garnett had his first triple double this season with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists for host Minnesota, which avoided being eliminated from the playoff race.

Before the game, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor called the acquisitions of Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell two summers ago a "failed experiment."

"He told me right there he don't want me back," Cassell said when told of Taylor's comments. "You experiment with something, and it doesn't work. Would you try it again?"

JAZZ 93, SPURS 91: Mehmet Okur's putback with 2.4 seconds left won it for host Utah to spoil Tim Duncan's return and possibly San Antonio's shot at the league's best record. Duncan had 17 points and seven rebounds after missing 12 games with a sprained ankle.

NUGGETS 116, HORNETS 102: Carmelo Anthony scored 19 to lead seven players in double figures for host Denver, which extended its winning streak to a season-high nine.

ROCKETS 100, GRIZZLIES 92: Yao Ming scored 28 for host Houston, which denied Memphis a chance to clinch a playoff spot. The Rockets held off the Grizzlies, who nearly overcame a 16-point deficit.

BOBCATS 105, HAWKS 84: Emeka Okafor had 17 points and 11 rebounds for host Charlotte.

BUCKS: Guard T.J. Ford, out all season with a bruised spinal cord, is improving and will soon be able to resume workouts.

SUPERSONICS: After missing eight games, forward Rashard Lewis returned for the game against the Mavericks.