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Pistons clinch top seed in East

Associated Press
Published April 3, 2006


AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Chauncey Billups wants it all: NBA title No. 2 and an MVP trophy.

Billups helped the Detroit Pistons earn home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs and might have rekindled his MVP candidacy in the process.

He scored 35 points Sunday against reigning MVP Steve Nash and his 3-pointer with 3:40 left put the Pistons ahead in a 109-102 win over Phoenix.

"I think I made a good case," Billups said. "It would mean a lot. Not as much as another championship, but it means a lot to even be mentioned."

In a matchup of MVP candidates, Billups was sensational while Nash struggled, shooting 4-of-11 for 13 points.

"Chauncey was amazing," Nash said.

The Pistons (59-14) clinched the best record ahead of Miami.

Shawn Marion scored 32 for Phoenix, which has lost five of its last nine games.

TIMBERWOLVES 106, WARRIORS 104 (OT): Ricky Davis made three free throws in the final 12 seconds of overtime as host Minnesota beat Golden State for its first overtime victory in five tries.

Jason Richardson scored 33 points and Derek Fisher 22 for Golden State, which has lost four straight, the last three by a combined six points.

GRIZZLIES 98, HAWKS 87: Chucky Atkins scored 19 points and Mike Miller added 18 as host Memphis beat Atlanta.

Memphis used a 40-6 run that spanned the second and third quarter to take a 71-45 advantage midway through the third period.

MAVERICKS 103, NUGGETS 79: Dirk Nowitzki had 30 points and 12 rebounds to help host Dallas snap a seasonlong three-game losing streak.

Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points, and Andre Miller and Ruben Patterson contributed 14 points each for Denver, which had won four of its previous six.

LAKERS 104, ROCKETS 88: Kobe Bryant scored 22 of his 43 points in the third quarter to help host Los Angeles beat Houston.

The 40-point game was Bryant's 23rd of the season, tying a Lakers record set by Elgin Baylor in the 1962-63 season. Bryant has scored 40 or more four times in his past seven games.

Yao Ming had 33 points and 16 rebounds for the Rockets, but took only eight shots after halftime.

76ERS 114, KNICKS 95: Allen Iverson scored 32 points and dominated New York for the second straight game as host Philadelphia completed a home-and-home sweep over the injury-depleted Knicks.

Andre Iguodala added 20 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Sixers. The Knicks played without injured starters Jalen Rose and Stephon Marbury.

NETS 90, HEAT 78: Vince Carter scored 43 to outduel Dwyane Wade as host New Jersey beat Miami for its 12th straight win.

Miami's Shaquille O'Neal, playing in his first game after missing two games with a hyperextended left knee, was mired in foul trouble, picking up his fifth near the end of the third quarter. He finished with 18 points.

CAVALIERS 101, BOBCATS 97: LeBron James scored 35 points, including five free throws down the stretch, to help visiting Cleveland hold off Charlotte for its eighth straight win.

The win reduced Cleveland's magic number to clinch the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs to four.

HORNETS 120, RAPTORS 113 (2OT): Chris Paul had 24 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds for his first career triple-double as visiting New Orleans won its third straight after losing 12 of 13.

The game featured matchup of two of the best rookies in the league. Charlie Villanueva had 25 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for Toronto.

KINGS 106, CLIPPERS 96: Ron Artest scored 26 points, and Brad Miller had 25 points and nine rebounds as host Sacramento beat Los Angeles for the 12th straight time.

SUPERSONICS 122, TRAIL BLAZERS 83: Ray Allen scored 24 points to lead six Seattle players in double figures as the hosts handed Portland its 11th straight defeat.

MAVERICKS: Forward Keith Van Horn will be sidelined indefinitely with a broken right hand.