Jackson, Pistons clinch playoff spot
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Reggie Jackson and Aron Baynes pushed the Detroit Pistons into the playoffs.
Jackson had 39 points and nine assists, Baynes hit eight fourth-quarter free throws and the Pistons clinched their first postseason spot in seven years with a 112-99 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
"This is huge, especially to give all of our other starters a chance to finally make it," Jackson said.
He then pointed to coach Stan Van Gundy.
"It's also great for Coach," Jackson said. "In two years, he's turned this whole franchise around, and that's why we made sure he was part of the celebration."
Andre Drummond started the post-game festivities by dumping an ice tub over Van Gundy, and that made it open season.
"We were getting him with bottles of water, ice bags and anything we could find," Jackson said. "He's the one who got us here."
Van Gundy was in a sweatsuit by the time he made it to his post-game press conference.
"Thank God it was only ice water," he said. "This is a special year for me, because it is the first time for our ownership, the first time for four of our starters, and the end of a long drought for the people that have been with this organization for a long time and seen some great moments. They've been waiting to get back."
Detroit's last playoff berth came in 2009 when it was swept in the first round by LeBron James and Cleveland. The Pistons will either face James and the Cavaliers again or play second-seeded Toronto.
"Those are two great teams, and I don't care which one we play," Van Gundy said. "I just want to finish seventh, because it is better than eighth."
Detroit had to overcome 29 points from Markieff Morris, who did everything possible to keep twin brother Marcus out of the postseason. Bradley Beal added 25 for the Wizards, who were eliminated by the loss.
"It's tough to miss out with the talent we have on this team." Markieff Morris said. "We didn't have our best player (John Wall), and their best player stepped up for them."
Marcus Morris had 17 points and nine rebounds in the clincher.
The Wizards had come back from 19 down to take the lead early in the fourth quarter, but Jackson continued to attack on offense. He helped the Pistons take a 100-94 lead with five minutes left, and clinched the game two minutes later.
After grabbing a defensive rebound away from Markieff Morris, Jackson drove the length of the court and hit a jumper. His free throw to finish the three-point play made it 103-96 with 2:45 left.
That brought the crowd to its feet, where they stayed as the Pistons ran out the clock.
PELICANS 110, LAKERS 102: At New Orleans, Alexs Ajinca and the Pelicans dominated Los Angeles in retiring Lakers star Kobe Bryant's final game in New Orleans.
Bryant had 14 points, had four assists and three rebounds, delighting fans who cheered his every touch of the ball. The Lakers have games in Houston and Oklahoma City before Bryant's grand finale at home Wednesday against Utah.
Ajinca helped the Pelicans break open a game in which they were trailing late in the second quarter, setting career highs with 28 points and 15 rebounds. New Orleans shot 53 percent.
D'Angelo Russell led the Lakers with 32 points, and Jordan Clarkson had 26.
RAPTORS 111, PACERS 98: At Toronto, rookie Norman Powell scored a season-high 27 points and Toronto beat Indiana, spoiling a chance for the Pacers to clinch a playoff spot.
The Pacers need one more win or a Chicago loss to qualify for the postseason. They will clinch if the Bulls lose to Cleveland tonight, or by beating Brooklyn on Sunday.
Powell surpassed his previous best of 18 points, set against the Oklahoma City last month.
MAGIC 112, HEAT 109: At Orlando, Fla., Nikola Vucevic scored 29 points and Evan Fournier added 28 to help Orlando beat Miami.
Vucevic had driving basket from the baseline in the waning seconds to give the Magic a 111-109 lead. Then, reserve Devyn Marble stole Luol Deng' inbounds pass to Joe Johnson with 3.4 seconds remaining to all but seal it. Evan Fournier converted one of two free throws with 2.7 seconds left, and Miami's Dwyane Wade missed a halfcourt shot.
Wade led the Heat with 17 points.
MAVERICKS 103, GRIZZLIES 93: At Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points and Dallas overcame an injury to sparkplug J.J. Barea while moving to the brink of another playoff spot.
The Mavericks, who had already slowed their pace considerably because of injuries, had to reconfigure their offense again when Barea left with a right groin strain in the first half.
Tony Allen scored 25 points to lead injury-riddled Memphis. They lost for the seventh time in eight games, a night after clinching a playoff spot when the Rockets lost at home to Phoenix.
CELTICS 124, BUCKS 109: At Boston, Tyler Zeller tied his career high with 26 points and Boston continued its playoff push with a victory over Milwaukee.
Isaiah Thomas added 20 points, and Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk each finished with 16 as Boston claimed its fourth straight victory. It sets up a stretch to close the regular-season against three playoff-bound teams.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 points and seven assists, and Miles Plumlee added 16 points for Milwaukee.
HORNETS 113, NETS 99: At Charlotte, N.C., Kemba Walker scored 22 points, Troy Daniels made his first five 3-point attempts and finished with 17 points, and Charlotte completed a four-game season sweep of Brooklyn.
With the win, the Hornets assured they'll be no lower than the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Charlotte still has an outside shot of hosting a playoff series.
Nicolas Batum had 14 points and Marvin Williams added 12 for the Hornets, who improved to 29-11 at home. Wayne Ellington had 21 points, and Thomas Robinson had 16 points and 17 rebounds for the Nets. They have lost seven straight.
KNICKS 109, 76ERS 102: At Philadelphia, Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points and Robin Lopez had 24 points and 15 rebounds to lead New York past Philadelphia.
Sasha Vujacic scored 16 points in a game between two of the worst teams in the NBA.
Robert Covington scored a career-high 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Sixers. Nerlens Noel had 17 points and 10 rebounds. The NBA-worst Sixers have only 10 wins and failed to earn back-to-back victories for the first time this season.
NUGGETS 102, SPURS 98: At Denver, Jusuf Nurkic scored a career-high 21 points, Gary Harris had two pivotal defensive plays in the waning seconds and the Denver Nuggets snapped a 10-game skid to San Antonio.
Emmanuel Mudiay added 20 for the Nuggets, who knocked off San Antonio for the first time since April 10, 2013. They're the only team this season to beat both Golden State and San Antonio.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich gave every starter except Tim Duncan the night off following a loss at Golden State on Thursday. Duncan finished with a season-high 21 points as the Spurs dropped two straight for the first time this season.
CLIPPERS 102, JAZZ 99, OT: At Salt Lake City, Utah, Cole Aldrich recorded 21 points, 18 rebounds and five steals and Jamal Crawford scored 30 points for Los Angeles.