CHICAGO — Jimmy Butler scored 25 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the depleted Brooklyn Nets 112-73 in the regular-season finale to clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot on Wednesday.
Paul Zipser added a career-high 21 points off the bench as Chicago took advantage of a short-handed Brooklyn lineup to secure its first playoff appearance under Coach Fred Hoiberg.
The Bulls will play the Boston Celtics in the first round.
On Tuesday, the Nets, owners of the worst record in the league, announced Trevor Booker, Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez would be out due to rest, while Quincy Acy (ankle), Joe Harris (shoulder) and Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) because of injuries.
Raptors 98, Cavaliers 83: Jonas Valanciunas made his first career 3-pointer and visiting Toronto closed the regular season with a win over Cleveland, which didn’t play its “Big 3” All-Stars so they’re playoff ready.
Norman Powell scored 25 points as the Raptors beat the Cavs for the first time in four tries this season and gave the defending champions something to think about if they meet in the postseason. Cleveland took Toronto down in six games in last year’s Eastern Conference finals.
Although there was still a chance to secure the No. 1 seed in the East, the Cavs put more value on rest and sat LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Cleveland fell to 0-4 in games this season without the trio and 0-8 minus James.
ROCKETS 123, TIMBERWOLVES: James Harden had his 22nd triple-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists to help Houston win at home.
The MVP contender became the first player in NBA history to finish the regular season with at least 2,000 points (2,356), 900 assists (907) and 600 rebounds (659).
Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 28 points and 21 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who end the season with a six-game losing streak. Towns also made NBA history by becoming the only player to have at least 2,000 points (2,061), 1,000 rebounds (1,007) and 100 3-pointers (101) in a season.
KNICKS 114, 76ERS 113: Carmelo Anthony scored 17 points after deciding to play in what could be his final game with the Knicks, and New York beat Philadelphia.
Anthony had missed the previous two games with a sore left knee and wasn’t expected to play Wednesday, but told Coach Jeff Hornacek he wanted to go. He played 23 minutes, sitting out the final quarter while a couple of “We want Melo! We want Melo!” chants broke out.
The Knicks finished 31-51 in another dysfunctional and disappointing season that started with promise, but became a sideshow after a disconnect between team president Phil Jackson and Anthony led to trade rumors that engulfed the team.
HEAT 110, WIZARDS 102: Goran Dragic scored 28 points, Hassan Whiteside added 24 points and 18 rebounds, and Miami won at home while being eliminated from the NBA playoffs.
Miami needed a win, and either a loss by Indiana or Chicago, to reach the postseason. But Indiana downed Atlanta to clinch the No. 7 seed, and Chicago topped Brooklyn to grab the No. 8 spot.
Willie Reed scored 16, Josh Richardson had 15 and James Johnson scored 12 for Miami.
PACERS 104, HAWKS 86: Paul George finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds, Jeff Teague added 19 points and Indiana clinched a playoff spot with a victory over visiting Atlanta.
The Pacers completed the regular season on a five-game winning streak to earn the Eastern Conference’s No. 7 seed. They will face Cleveland in the opening round.
Ersan Ilyasova scored 15 points and Jose Calderon had 12 on a night the Hawks rested five of their top six players. Thabo Sefolosha played 23 minutes but didn’t score.
MAVERICKS 100, GRIZZLIES 93: Nicolas Brussino and Devin Harris each scored 15 points and visiting Dallas snapped a five-game losing streak.
The Mavericks won despite leaving starters Dirk Nowitzki, Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews at home. Reserve guard J.J. Barea, averaging 10.9 points, also remained in Dallas as Coach Rick Carlisle opted to use his younger players in the regular-season finale.
Memphis, the seventh seed in the Western Conference, was led by Mike Conley and Zach Randolph, who scored 15 points each. Marc Gasol added 13 points.
NUGGETS 111, THUNDER 105: Russell Westbrook played only in the first half of Oklahoma City’s home loss.
Westbrook was on pace for another triple-double at halftime with eight assists, five points and five rebounds in 18 minutes before Coach Billy Donovan decided to rest him for the second half.
MAGIC 113, PISTONS 109: Aaron Gordon had 32 points and 12 rebounds, Elfrid Payton scored 21 points and Orlando overcame a late-run by visiting Detroit to win its season finale 113-109 Wednesday night.
JAZZ 101, SPURS 97: Gordon Hayward scored 14 and Utah held on to beat visiting San Antonio.