April 14, 2013

NBA Roundup: Celtics clinch No. 7 seed in East

The Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. - Coach Doc Rivers is going to be cautious with how hard he pushes Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce over the Boston Celtics' final two games of the regular season.

At the same time, he doesn't want his aging stars out of game shape entering the playoffs.

An easy night against the Orlando Magic allowed him to satisfy both concerns.

Courtney Lee scored 20 points and Jeff Green added 17 as the Celtics cruised to a 120-88 victory Saturday night.

The win locked up the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference for Boston, which never trailed in beating Orlando for the eighth straight time.

"It's a fine line between rest and health," Pierce said. "You want to be as healthy as we can get at this point. Right now we're as healthy as we're gonna be for the rest of the season. If we play the next couple of games or if we didn't, the most important thing is we're ready for the playoffs."

All five starters reached double figures, with Kevin Garnett scoring 14 and Paul Pierce 12 points after sitting out Friday night against Miami.

With the rest afforded to the veterans and extra playing time to the younger players, Rivers feels good about his team in spite of the surprises this season. He said he feels like the players are setting themselves up for a "pretty good run."

"I like our team. I like our team a lot," Rivers said. "The key for us is to get through these two games, have some great practices and get ready for the playoffs. That's what you play the whole season for."

The Celtics end their regular-season schedule against Indiana on Tuesday and at Toronto on Wednesday.

Pierce and Garnett combined for 20 first-half points as the Celtics built a 20-point lead.

"I'd like to see more consistency from us defensively," Garnett said. "Obviously the roster will shrink a bit, that will alleviate a lot of other things. I've always loved our team as long as we play the right way."

BOBCATS 95, BUCKS 85: Kemba Walker scored 21 points, Josh McRoberts nearly had a triple-double and Charlotte handed Milwaukee its ninth straight road loss.

TIMBERWOLVES 105, SUNS 93: Ricky Rubio had a career-high 24 points, 10 assists and five steals, and J.J. Barea scored 16 points to lead Minnesota at Minneapolis.

CLIPPERS 91, GRIZZLIES 87: Chris Paul hit a free throw with 18.3 seconds left, and Los Angeles won at Memphis, Tenn., in a possible preview of a first-round playoff series.

NOTES

LAKERS: Kobe Bryant had surgery on his torn Achilles tendon, ending his season with two games left in the playoff chase.

Trainer Gary Vitti thinks Bryant will need six to nine months for recovery from the most serious injury of his 17-year career. General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Bryant could be back for the opener in the fall.

CLIPPERS: Forward Caron Butler missed the second half of the game against Memphis because of a sore right knee.

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