James pours 41 points as Miami wins playoff berth
MIAMI - Reuters
LeBron James scored a season-high 41 points as he led the Miami Heat into the NBA playoffs in the Eastern Conference.LeBron James delivered a season-high 41 points in the absence of injured sidekick Dwyane Wade as the Miami Heat clinched a playoff berth with their 99-93 victory over the visiting Philadelphia 76ers on April 4.
With Wade sidelined due to an ailing knee, James took on the burden of leading the scoring and pulling his team to within 2 1/2 games of the East-leading Chicago Bulls.
“It’s never really mattered to me about scoring,” James told reporters after making 15-of-25 shots from the field. “I’m happy to get a good team effort against a playoff team.”
The 76ers’ defeat dropped them 1 1/2 games behind Boston in the Atlantic Division as they sit seventh in the overall East standings.
In the final month of a truncated regular season, shortened from 82 to 66 games due to a protracted labour dispute, the fight for playoff places continues to gather steam throughout the league.
Well behind Miami, and third in the conference, the Indiana Pacers strengthened their position with a 112-104 comeback win against the New York Knicks.
The Pacers blasted the Knicks 40-17 in the fourth quarter to complete the dramatic turnaround. Despite the loss, New York have a 1 1/2-game advantage in the battle for eighth spot.
Fifth-place Orlando are now just one game up on Atlanta following their 102-95 defeat at the hands of Detroit.
Spurs continue chase
Over in the Western Conference, San Antonio crushed Cleveland 125-90 to pull within two games of top seed Oklahoma City.
The Spurs raced to their eighth straight victory to heap pressure on the Thunder.
Meanwhile, Memphis overcamed Golden State 98-94 to earn their third consecutive triumph. The Grizzlies are fifth in the West and trail the Los Angeles Clippers by one and a half games.
The Los Angeles Lakers enjoyed a 91-87 victory over New Jersey that gave them a 1 1/2-game lead over the Clippers in the race for third-place in the West heading into Wednesday’s showdown with their city rivals.