Hawks beat Clippers, close in on home court in first round

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ATLANTA — Joe Johnson scored 28 points, including a wild 3-pointer in the final minute, and the Atlanta Hawks held on for a 109-102 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, moving a step closer to wrapping up home-court in the first round of the playoffs.

Blake Griffin scored a season-high 36 points, while Chris Paul added 34 in a back-and-forth game that was never in double figures until the Hawks went on a 15-2 run at the end of the third quarter, sparked by Jeff Teague and Josh Smith.

Johnson clinched it with a pair of 3s, knocking down a desperation shot with 38 seconds remaining and the shot clock running down. He threw up a two-handed heave that somehow banked in, giving the Hawks a 103-96 lead.

CELTICS 78, HEAT 66

In Boston Sasha Pavlovic scored 12 of his of his season-high 16 points in the fourth quarter, leading a group of Boston reserves as both teams rested their top players.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were out for the Heat.

Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo didn’t play for the Celtics, who hold the No. 4 seed in the East.

THUNDER 118, KINGS 110

In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 32 points, reserve Daequan Cook had all 19 of his points in the fourth quarter and Oklahoma City won its first game since top James Harden took an elbow to the head.

DeMarcus Cousins, who was allowed to play only after his 13th technical foul was rescinded earlier in the day, led Sacramento with 32 points.

WORLD PEACE IS BANNED 7 GAMES

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Lakers forward Metta World Peace was suspended seven games by the NBA on Tuesday for throwing a vicious elbow at Oklahoma City’s James Harden, meaning the Los Angeles starter likely will miss six playoff games.

World Peace was ejected from Sunday’s game against the Thunder for striking Harden in the head, giving him a concussion. World Peace claimed the contact was an accidental, overzealous celebration of a dunk.

World Peace will miss the Lakers’ season finale on Thursday at Sacramento and the next six games for which he is eligible. Los Angeles is likely to be the Westerns third seed.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said the team “accepted” the suspension.

“His most recent lapse in judgment is not to be condoned or accepted,” Kupchak said “His actions could have seriously injured another player, and his absence during this suspension will hurt our team as well.”

– Associated Press


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