Celtics end it on high note

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BOSTON – Ryan Gomes had 19 points and Tony Allen added 17 to help Boston snap a five-game losing streak in an 85-78 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

Miami (52-30) begins its playoff run on Saturday and could play either Chicago or Milwaukee.

The Celtics (33-49) also snapped a five-game slide at home and finished with a 21-20 record in Boston.

After leading 68-67 at the end of three quarters, the Celtics began the fourth period with a 14-0 run to open an 82-67 lead. Miami went 8:48 without a field goal in the fourth quarter until Dorell Wright hit a layup with 3:12 remaining.

Reserve Orien Greene tied a career-high with 14 points for Boston, who missed the playoffs for the first time in five years.

Wright led Miami with 20 points and Antoine Walker chipped in with 14 while Miami shot 32 percent for the game.

Boston averted a four-game season sweep by the Heat and took advantage of the absences of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade. The Celtics beat Miami for the second time in nine games.

Miami and Boston combined to shoot 11-for-42 in the first quarter, when the Celtics led 24-17. Walker buried a 3-pointer just before halftime to tie the game at 46.

Paul Pierce did not play for Boston, but finished the season averaging a career-high 26.8 points per game.

Bobcats 96, 76ers 86

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Matt Carroll scored 24 points and the Charlotte Bobcats set a franchise record with their fourth straight win, 96-86 over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.

Melvin Ely added 18 points for the second-year Bobcats, who closed the season at 26-56, eight more wins than last season.

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Cavaliers 100, Hawks 99

CLEVELAND – On Fan Appreciation Night, the Cleveland Cavaliers handed out free T-shirts, jerseys, plane tickets, cash, sneakers and pizzas.

They nearly gave away a victory, too. LeBron James and Larry Hughes got some needed rest before the first round of the playoffs and the Cavaliers tuned up for the postseason with a 100-99 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Pacers 89, Magic 83

INDIANAPOLIS – Jermaine O’Neal had 24 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks, and the Indiana Pacers beat the Orlando Magic 89-83 on Wednesday night to claim the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Indiana (41-41) barely avoided its first losing season since 1997. The Pacers won five of their final six games after being in danger of missing the playoffs, and will open the postseason on Sunday afternoon.

Wizards 96, Pistons 80

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Caron Butler had 33 points and 12 rebounds as the Washington Wizards earned a first-round playoff date with LeBron James by beating the apathetic Detroit Pistons 96-80 Wednesday night.

The Wizards needed a win to protect the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, while the top-seeded Pistons (64-18) just wanted to avoid injuries, and it showed. Chauncey Billups watched the game in a suit and his fellow starters were on the bench in the fourth quarter.

Spurs 89, Rockets 87

HOUSTON – Brent Barry scored 19 points and Michael Finley added 17 to help the San Antonio Spurs broke the franchise victory record with an 89-87 victory over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.

Clippers 85, Mavericks 71

DALLAS – Corey Maggette returned to action and tuned up for the playoffs with 18 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Dallas Mavericks 85-71 Wednesday night in a meaningless finish to terrific regular seasons for both clubs.

Grizzlies 102, Wolves 92

MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Timberwolves’ season is over. The Memphis Grizzlies’ is just beginning. Brian Cardinal scored nine of his 18 points in the second overtime and Lawrence Roberts added 10 points and 12 boards to lead the Grizzlies to a 102-92 victory over the Timberwolve

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