Nuggets clinch playoff spot with win over Celtics
Will Barton added 20 points for the Nuggets, who clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2012-13. They have won four straight.
Both teams came into the night trying to improve their playoff position.
The Nuggets tipped off their four-game road trip just a game behind Western Conference-leading Golden State in the standings. The Celtics came in fifth in the East, a game back of fourth-place Indiana and two behind Philadelphia, whom they visit on Wednesday.
Payton finished with 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Dallas rookie Luka Doncic had a triple-double of his own with 29 points, 13 boards and 10 assists.
Nowitzki moved past Chamberlain (31,419 points) on one of his signature long-range jumpers with 8:35 remaining in the first quarter. The 40-year-old German took a feed from Doncic and backed down Kenrich Williams before turning and launching from the top of the key.
Entering the game needing four points to pass Chamberlain, Nowitzki started for the ninth time this season. He made his first two shots to end the suspense with a sellout crowd on its feet.
Stephen Curry had 25 points after a slow start and Kevin Durant added 24 for Golden State, which entered the game having won two straight. The Warriors have dropped into a tie with Denver for first place in the West with matching 47-22 records.
There were nine ties in the intense matchup between the West’s best and the league’s hottest team.
The Warriors had to rally in the second half after a sluggish start.
Curry and Klay Thompson opened the game a combined 0 for 11, but the Warriors’ defense allowed them to tie the game at 25 when Curry threw in a 61-footer to close the first quarter.
Thompson finished with 14 points.
The Blazers (43-27) won their 10th in a row against the Pacers in Portland.
Portland was playing its first game minus McCollum, who injured his left knee in Saturday’s loss at San Antonio.
McCollum, who is averaging 21.3 points per game, has a popliteus strain and will be re-examined in a week, the team said. It isn’t known whether he’ll be back before the end of the regular season.
Gobert, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, was perfect from the field (6 of 6) for Utah, which started the night seventh in the West, one-half game behind San Antonio.
Jae Crowder had 18 points while Joe Ingles had 16 points as the Jazz began a four-game trip by defeating Washington for the sixth straight time. Kyle Korver added 10 points off the bench, and Ricky Rubio had eight points and 10 assists.
Jabari Parker led Washington with 19 points and Bradley Beal added 15 on just 4-of-12 shooting as the Wizards wrapped up a five-game homestand at 3-2. Beal had scored 40 points in each of the previous two games.
Kelly Olynyk added 18 points and nine rebounds for Miami, which entered the game in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Heat snapped a six-game losing streak against Oklahoma City, which has lost nine of its past 13 games to fall to sixth in the Western Conference.
Paul George scored 31 points with nine rebounds and Jerami Grant had 27 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City. Dennis Schroder, who started in Westbrook’s place, scored 20 points. Steven Adams had 10 points and 12 rebounds but was limited by foul trouble to 25 minutes.
The victory came at a cost to the Raptors, who saw guard Kyle Lowry leave in the third quarter after suffering an injured right ankle. Lowry, who had 15 points and eight assists in 26 minutes, was back in the lineup after missing the previous two games because of a sore left ankle.
New York rookie center Mitchell Robinson collided with Lowry while chasing a loose ball at 5:15 of the third, falling onto Lowry’s legs and taking the All-Star point guard down from behind. Lowry slapped the floor in pain and frustration before being helped to his feet and limping to the locker room.
Andre Drummond nearly made up for Griffin’s absence with 21 points and 21 rebounds, but the Cavaliers hit clutch shots down the stretch against a Pistons team that is fighting for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Sexton’s 3-pointer gave Cleveland a 115-114 lead with 1:54 left. Following a missed shot, Cedi Osman hit another 3 with 1:24 to play, putting the Cavaliers up 118-114.
Zach LaVine had 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Lauri Markkanen added 17 points and nine boards for Chicago. Lopez shot 11 for 14 from the field as the Bulls were 52 percent (46 for 89).
- Boston Celtics
- Chicago Bulls
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Dallas Mavericks
- Denver Nuggets
- Golden State Warriors
- Miami Heat
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Toronto Raptors
- Utah Jazz