3 East teams hold on to tenuous playoff spots
LOS ANGELES, USA – The battle rages for the last 3 playoff berths in the NBA Eastern Conference.
The sixth-placed Detroit Pistons helped their cause by ending Portland's six-game winning streak in a 99-90 decision on Saturday, March 30 (Sunday, March 31, Manila time).
Reggie Jackson scored 28 points and Andre Drummond added 22 with 19 rebounds as the Pistons overcame the absence of Blake Griffin, who was a late scratch with a sore left knee.
The Pistons (39-37) remained half a game ahead of the seventh-placed Brooklyn Nets (39-38), who beat the playoff-bound Boston Celtics, 110-96.
D'Angelo Russell scored 20 of his 29 points in the 3rd quarter as the Nets broke open a close game and ended a two-game skid.
The Miami Heat (38-38) kept their tenuous hold on the 8th and final Eastern berth with a 100-92 victory over the Knicks in New York.
Dion Waiters led Miami with a season-high 28 points, while Goran Dragic added 10 points and 10 assists.
"We understand, obviously, every game it means something in the standings of the playoff push," Heat veteran Dwyane Wade said before the game.
But the Heat trailed 33-29 after the 1st quarter and 61-55 at halftime.
Tied at 79-79 heading into the 4th, the Heat opened the final frame with an 8-0 scoring run and finally pulled away from the last-placed Knicks.
But the Orlando Magic (38-39) are still snapping at the Heat's heels, downing the Indiana Pacers 121-116 to stay in touch.
Aaron Gordon scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Nikola Vucevic added 19 points as the Magic rebounded from Thursday's loss to Detroit.