Thunder, Spurs seal their playoff spots
LOS ANGELES – Agence France-Presse
Paul George scored 27 points and Russell Westbrook bagged a triple-double as the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame an 18-point deficit to clinch a playoff berth with a 115-93 victory over the Miami Heat on April 9.
Westbrook finished with 23 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in a dynamic performance which assured the Thunder of a postseason berth and kept them in the hunt for home-court advantage in the first round.
The Thunder improved to 47-34 with the win, leaving them level on wins in the Western Conference standings with fourth-placed Utah, who have played a game fewer.
George and Westbrook were backed by Carmelo Anthony, who finished with 11 points, while Jerami Grant contributed 17 off the bench as the Thunder overcame a determined Miami side.
Josh Richardson led the scoring for the Heat with 18 points while Hassan Whiteside had 16. The defeat saw Miami slide back to seventh place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of Washington.
The Thunder were joined in the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs, who sealed their 21st consecutive appearance in the postseason with a 98-85 win over the Sacramento Kings.
The Spurs advanced after strong performances off the bench, with Manu Ginobili chipping in with 17 points and Rudy Gay 18 points.
It remains to be seen where San Antonio will start in the playoffs however, with the Spurs one of four teams locked on 47 wins heading into the final rounds of the regular season.
New Orleans was the other team to clinch on, with the Pelicans trouncing the Los Angeles Clippers 113-100 at the Staples Center on the back of a 28-point display from Anthony Davis.
Elsewhere, Kevin Love and LeBron James combined for 54 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers kept alive their hopes of snagging third place in the Eastern Conference with a 123-109 win over the New York Knicks.
With just one regular season game remaining, the Cavaliers will likely need to defeat New York again on April 11 if they are to have any chance of sneaking past the in-form Philadelphia 76ers for the third seeding.
James finished with 26 points and contributed 11 assists in a comfortable win for the 2016 NBA champions.