NBA: Clippers clinch No 2 seed in Western Conference

Orlando, Aug 13 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 8/13/2020 1:19:06 PM IST

Paul George scored 27 points, Kawhi Leonard had 26 and the Los Angeles Clippers wrapped up the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a 124-111 victory over the third-seeded Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

The Clippers will face seventh-seeded Dallas when the playoffs get going next week. The Clippers took control with 13 straight points midway through the third quarter and barely let the Nuggets get back in it.

George and Leonard were big reasons why. George made two 3-pointers midway through the period, and Leonard sprinted to midcourt on a defense possession, picked off a pass at mid-court and glided in for a basket.

Los Angeles took the lead for good with 10 minutes left on Lou Williams’ jumper and steadily built the advantage to double digits on the way to its second straight win over the Northwest Division champions.

Williams was the third Clipper with 20-plus points, finishing with 23.

Jerami Grant led the Nuggets with 25 points. It was the third time in the past four games Grant, who came in averaging less than 12 points a game, went for 20 or more points.

Nikola Jokic finished with 17 points and 13 assists, but sat much of the fourth quarter as coach Mike Malone chose to rest many of his top line players down the stretch.

Indiana Pacers 108 – 104 Houston Rockets: Doug McDermott scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and Indiana held off a late rampage by James Harden — and an injury to T.J. Warren — to beat Houston.

By virtue of a win in its second-to-last regular-season game, Indiana clinched at least the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and a first-round playoff matchup with the fourth-seeded Miami Heat.

The Pacers rested Warren, whom Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said is dealing with plantar fasciitis. According to reports, the injury isn’t expected to keep Warren from playing in the postseason.

Toronto Raptors 125 – 121 Philadelphia 76ers: The 76ers welcomed back Joel Embiid for a first-half cameo, then blew a late seven-point lead and watched as the Raptor’s Stanley Johnson hit a tie-breaking follow shot with 5.9 seconds remaining to clinch a four-point victory.

Embiid, who injured his left ankle on Sunday against Portland and sat out Tuesday’s game with Phoenix, played 14 first-half minutes and had five points and nine rebounds. Tobias Harris had a game-high 22 points and Furkan Korkmaz 21 for Philadelphia, which is locked into sixth place in the East and a first-round playoff matchup with Boston.

Chris Boucher and Kyle Lowry led the Raptors with 19 apiece. Norman Powell added 17 points and Pascal Siakam had 15 for Toronto, which has clinched second place in the East.

Miami Heat 116 – 115 Oklahoma City Thunder: Darius Bazley scored 16 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, and Mike Muscala hit two 3-pointers in the final minute to lift Oklahoma City to a come-from-behind win over Miami that featured reserve players in the second half.

The Thunder trailed by as many as 22 points in the fourth period but outscored the Heat 34-15 in the quarter. The first tied it with 34.8 seconds to play. After Miami regained the lead on a Solomon Hill layup, Muscala hit another 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds remaining.

An attempted 3-pointer by Tyler Herro (career-high 30 points) hit off the front of the rim at the buzzer to seal Oklahoma City’s win.



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