CLEVELAND – LeBron James watched from the bench in street clothes as Norris Cole stripped Kyrie Irving of the ball with 2.2 seconds left to give the Miami Heat, resting most of their top players for the playoffs, a 96-95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.
James was disappointed to not play in another homecoming game against his former team, but he appreciated Coach Erik Spoelstra’s desire to get the NBA champions as healthy and refreshed as possible heading into the postseason.
Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers joined James on the bench while Dwyane Wade, Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem stayed back in Miami with minor injuries.
BOBCATS 106, KNICKS 95: Gerald Henderson scored 27 points and Kemba Walker had 23 points and a career-high 13 assists as host Charlotte beat a New York team playing without Carmelo Anthony and a few others.
The victory was the second straight for the Bobcats, who pulled into a tie with Orlando for the worst record in the league.
BULLS 102, MAGIC 84: Carlos Boozer scored 22 points, Luol Deng added 18 and Chicago snapped a two-game losing streak with a win at Orlando, Fla.
The win, which was the Bulls’ fifth straight over the Magic, also keeps alive their hopes of catching of Atlanta for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
PISTONS 109, 76ERS 101: Greg Monroe had 27 points and 16 rebounds as Detroit made the most of its home finale at Auburn Hills, Mich.
For both teams, the game was overshadowed by uncertainty off the court, as Doug Collins is on his way out as Philadelphia’s coach.
NUGGETS 112, BUCKS 111: Ty Lawson scored 26 points, including a jumper in the lane with 9.3 seconds left, as Denver clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a win at Milwaukee.
Wilson Chandler added 21 points for the Nuggets, who can secure the No. 3 seed in the West with one more victory or two losses by the Los Angeles Clippers.
GRIZZLIES 103, MAVERICKS 97: Keyon Dooling scored 13 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer before consecutive baskets by Ed Davis, and visiting Memphis rallied to keep alive its chance of hosting a first-round playoff series.
Dirk Nowitzki had 26 points for the Mavs, who already knew they were going to miss the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons.
THUNDER 104, KINGS 95: Kevin Durant scored 29 points, Russell Westbrook had 21 before getting ejected in the final 3 minutes and host Oklahoma City clinched the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Tyreke Evans, the Kings’ second-leading scorer, did not return after grabbing at his troublesome left knee following a drive to the basket late in the first quarter.
JAZZ 96, TIMBERWOLVES 80: Al Jefferson had 22 points and eight rebounds to help Utah keep its playoff hopes alive with a win at Minneapolis.
Mo Williams had 15 points and seven assists for the Jazz, who needed a win to avoid being eliminated in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Jazz now need to win at Memphis on Wednesday and for the Los Angeles Lakers to lose at home against Houston that night to get into the playoffs.
NETS 106, WIZARDS 101: Andray Blatche led a bevy of Brooklyn bench players with 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Nets erased an early 17-point deficit at New York.
Kris Humphries, who was the team’s original starting power forward at the beginning of the season before falling out of the rotation, added 20 points and nine boards for Brooklyn.