HOUSTON (AP) James Harden scored 38 points and the Houston Rockets took the final Western Conference playoff spot with an easy 116-81 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
The Rockets never trailed and had a 64-44 lead at halftime behind 16 points from Harden and 10 each from Dwight Howard and Michael Beasley.
They won their last three games to sneak into the playoffs after losing three of the previous four to fall behind Utah and into ninth place in the West. Houston will meet top-seed Golden State in the first round of the playoffs this weekend.
Ben McLemore had 24 points for the Kings, in what was likely coach George Karl's final game with the team amid reports that he could be fired as soon as Thursday. Karl went 44-68 since taking the job in February 2015, and this season is the 10th straight season in which the Kings did not make the playoffs.
SPURS 96, MAVERICKS 91
DALLAS (AP) – Rookies Boban Marjanovic and Jonathon Simmons set career scoring highs and San Antonio rallied past Dallas despite leaving home four starters and two key reserves.
The loss left the Mavericks at risk of falling to the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference and having to face the second-seeded Spurs again in the first round of the playoffs after San Antonio's 4-0 sweep of its Texas rival in the regular season.
Marjanovic, a 7-foot-3 Serbian center making his fourth start, had 22 points and matched a career high with 12 rebounds as the Spurs erased an 18-point halftime deficit in the third quarter and finished off the rally in the fourth. Simmons scored 19.
Kyle Anderson, a second-year player, matched his career best with 15 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. He had 10 rebounds for his first career double-double.
PISTONS 112, CAVALIERS 110, OT
CLEVELAND (AP) – LeBron James wore a black blazer and watched from the bench and all the starters for Cleveland and Detroit rested for their first-round playoff matchup as Jodie Meeks scored 20 to lead the Pistons past the Cavaliers.
James rushed onto the court to celebrate when Jordan McRae's 3-pointer tied it 103-all and forced OT. But Meeks, who played just 17 minutes all season because of a foot injury, scored four in the extra session. McRae scored 36 and had a chance to tie it in the final second, but missed two free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer.
The teams will play Game 1 this weekend.
RAPTORS 103, NETS 96
NEW YORK (AP) – Rookie Norman Powell scored a career-high 30 points and Toronto wrapped up the best regular season in franchise history by beating Brooklyn.
With the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference already secured, the Raptors didn't even bring All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, plus Jonas Valanciunas, James Johnson and DeMarre Carroll to the game. They won anyway, improving to 56-26 after coming into the season as the only NBA team that had never previously even won 50.
Powell added nine rebounds and five assists, while Terrence Ross had 24 points and 10 rebounds. Delon Wright scored 18 points. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 29 points for the Nets, who lost their final 10 games and finished 21-61.
CELTICS 98, HEAT 88
BOSTON (AP) – Isaiah Thomas had 21 points and Boston rallied from 26 points down to beat Miami.
Coupled with Atlanta's loss to Washington, Boston earned the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks' loss also gave Miami the third seed and its fifth Southeast Division title in six years. The Celtics will face the fourth-seeded Hawks in the first round. Miami will take on No. 6 seed Charlotte.
Avery Bradley added 17 points and seven rebounds. Evan Turner finished with 16 points for Boston.
Joe Johnson and Hassan Whiteside each had 19 points to lead the Heat. Goran Dragic added 18 points, and Dwyane Wade had 17.
WIZARDS 109, HAWKS 98
WASHINGTON (AP) – With a seemingly half-hearted showing in its final regular-season game, Atlanta lost to a bunch of backups for Washington and wound up with the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
After the game, a person familiar with the decision said Washington coach Randy Wittman has been told he will not be back. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the move has not been announced by the team.
Atlanta finished 48-34 – the same record as the Miami Heat, who lost 98-88 at the Boston Celtics but owned the tiebreaker over the Hawks and so earned the No. 3 seed. Because of Miami's loss, Atlanta would have moved up to No. 3 with a victory. Instead, the Hawks dropped their second game in a row and will face the No. 5 Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
Washington finished 41-41 and 10th in the Eastern Conference, missing out on the playoffs after reaching the second round each of the previous two seasons.
Al Horford led the Hawks with 19 points. Ramon Sessions, one of four reserves who started for Washington, scored 22 points.
MAGIC 117, HORNETS 103
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Al Jefferson scored 26 points and playoff-bound Charlotte closed out its best regular season in 16 years with a victory over Orlando.
The Hornets are the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and will face the third-seeded Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Troy Daniels added 13 points and Spencer Hawes and Jeremy Lamb had 12 each for Charlotte, which finished the regular season 48-34 – the fifth-most wins in franchise history.
Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon each had 22 points for the Magic.
PACERS 97, BUCKS 92
MILWAUKEE (AP) – Solomon Hill scored a season-high 25 points to help Indiana beat Milwaukee.
Lavoy Allen and Glenn Robinson III each added 14 points for Indiana, which clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday night after beating the New York Knicks.
With the Pacers locked into a first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors, coach Frank Vogel sat starters, including Paul George and Monta Ellis.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 19 points and nine rebounds.
BULLS 115, 76ERS 105
CHICAGO (AP) – Nikola Mirotic scored 32 points, Justin Holliday added a career-high 29, and Chicago closed a disappointing season with a victory over Philadelphia.
Mirotic hit seven 3-pointers. Holiday made five from long range, matching a personal best. Jimmy Butler added 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Bulls wiped out an early 24-point deficit and led by as much as 19.
That's little consolation for a team that expected to challenge Cleveland for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. Instead, they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 at 42-40.
Robert Covington led Philadelphia with 27 points. The 76ers finished an NBA-worst 10-72.
TIMBERWOLVES 144, PELICANS 109
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Karl-Anthony Towns had 28 points and 14 rebounds and Minnesota sent coach Sam Mitchell out in style with a victory over New Orleans.
Gorgui Dieng had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Shabazz Muhammad scored 28 points for the Timberwolves (29-53), who learned before the game that owner Glen Taylor planned to open up a search for a new president of basketball operations and coach. GM Milt Newton and coach Sam Mitchell were fired after the game.
Minnesota shot 65 percent, made 13 of 28 3-pointers and set a franchise record for points in a game.
Omer Asik had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Pelicans.