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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lakers claim home court

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The bumps and the bruises are starting to pile up for the Los Angeles Lakers as they prepare to defend their title.

Those annoyances always seem to heal just a little bit quicker in the comforts of home, and that's exactly where Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers will be spending most of their time in the postseason.

Pau Gasol had 29 points and 15 rebounds, and the Kobe-less Lakers locked up home court throughout the Western Conference playoffs with a 97-88 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Lamar Odom had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the reigning champs, who have the No. 1 seed in the West for the third straight season.

"Advantage goes to the people who have home court, no doubt about it," coach Phil Jackson said. "It doesn't guarantee you anything. It guarantees you an extra game."

Jonny Flynn scored 19 points and Kevin Love had 12 points and 18 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were missing their leading scorer as well. Al Jefferson missed his second straight game and has not been with the team for the last four days while attending to a relative who has been in the hospital.

Jackson rested Bryant for the second night in a row, clearly concerned more about getting his lead dog ready for the postseason than playing against the worst team in the Western Conference.

Bryant has been bothered by an aching right index finger, which contributed to his 13-for-47 shooting in his previous two games played. Jackson also wants Bryant's legs to be fresh for a run at another title in a rugged Western Conference that could feature all eight teams with at least 50 wins.

Pistons 106, Heat 99

In Miami, Ben Gordon scored 26 of his 39 points in the second half, and Tayshaun Prince added 28 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

Nets 127, Bulls 116 (2OT)

In East Rutherford, N.J., Devin Harris hit a go-ahead jumper early in the second overtime as New Jersey prevented Chicago from taking over the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Hawks 107, Raptors 101

In Atlanta, Jamal Crawford scored 15 of his 25 points when the Hawks took the lead in the second period, and Atlanta held on to win 50 games for the first time in 12 years.

Thunder 96, Suns 91

In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 35 points and rookie reserve Serge Ibaka hit a crucial basket in the final minute.

Mavericks 83, Blazers 77

In Portland, Dirk Nowitzki scored 40 points, making a key 3-pointer with under three minutes left, and Dallas clinched the Southwest Division.

Jazz 114, Hornets 103

In New Orleans, Deron Williams had 27 points and 16 assists, and Utah remained within striking distance of the second playoff seed in the Western Conference.

Pacers 116, Cavaliers 113

In Cleveland, Danny Granger had 36 points, including nine of Indiana's final 11.

Wizards 106, Celtics 96

In Boston, Andray Blatche had 31 points and 11 rebounds as Washington opened a 28-point first-half lead and held off a late flurry of 3-pointers.

Rockets 97, Bobcats 90

In Houston, Aaron Brooks scored 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, and Trevor Ariza added 17.

Bucks 95, 76ers 90

In Philadelphia, Carlos Delfino scored 23 points and Luke Ridnour had 18 to lead the Bucks into sole possession of fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Grizzlies 107, Spurs 99

In San Antonio, Zach Randolph had 28 points and 15 rebounds, and Memphis dealt the Spurs a heavy setback.

Magic 118, Knicks 103

In Orlando, Dwight Howard and Vince Carter scored 25 points apiece.

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