OKLAHOMA – Kevin Durant led the way as the Oklahoma City Thunder clinched home court advantage throughout the NBA’s Western Conference playoffs by beating Sacramento 104-95 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena last night.
Durant scored 29 points and also had eight assists and seven rebounds as the Thunder completed a sweep of their regular season matches against Sacramento.
Teammate Russell Westbrook finished with 21 points and eight assists, while Serge Ibaka had 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
The Thunder scored 62 points in the paint compared to just 46 for the Kings in front of a crowd of 18,203.
Isaiah Thomas was the lone starter to reach double figures for the Kings as he finished with 16.
In Minnesota, Al Jefferson had 22 points and eight rebounds and the visiting Utah Jazz stayed alive in the Western Conference playoff race with a 96-80 road victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Jazz avoided elimination to move one game behind the idle LA Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot with Wednesday’s regular-season finale to determine their fate.
For the Jazz to qualify, they need to win at Memphis and for the Lakers to lose at home against Houston. That would leave them with identical records but Utah owns the tiebreaker by winning the season series.
Elsewhere Jerryd Bayless scored 19 points, leading the visiting Memphis Grizzlies to a 103-97 road victory over the already playoff-eliminated Dallas Mavericks despite a game-high 26 points from Dirk Nowitzki.
Norris Cole stripped Kyrie Irving of the ball with 2.2 seconds left to cap a 16-point, 11-rebound, nine-assist effort as the top playoff seed Miami Heat edged the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers 96-95 despite the absence of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
Ty Lawson scored 26 points, including the game-winning jumper with 9.3 seconds left, and the visiting Denver Nuggets nailed down home-court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs with 112-111 win over the also post-season-bound Milwaukee Bucks, who wasted Monta Ellis’s game-high 38 points.
In other games, the visiting Chicago Bulls beat the Orlando Magic 102-84, the Charlotte Bobcats bounced the visiting New York Knicks minus league top gun Carmelo Anthony 106-95, the Brooklyn Nets slipped past the visiting Washington Wizards 106-101.
Also, the Golden State Warriors shot past the visiting San Antonio Spurs 116-106, the Phoenix Suns surprised the visiting Houston Rockets 119-112 and the Detroit Pistons stopped the visiting Philadelphia 76ers 109-101.††