ATLANTA (AP) — Dwight Howard had 19 points and 12 rebounds as the resurgent Atlanta Hawks won their fourth straight game, routing the listless Charlotte Hornets 103-76 on Tuesday night to wrap up the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks will face the Washington Wizards in the opening round of the playoffs.
A week ago, Atlanta’s playoff hopes were in jeopardy after a dismal stretch that included two losses to Brooklyn, the worst team in the NBA.
Then, in a sudden turnaround that epitomized the team’s maddening inconsistency this season, the Hawks knocked off East-leading Boston and recorded two straight stunning victories over the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, including Sunday’s comeback from a 26-point deficit.
DALLAS (AP) — Gary Harris scored 20 points and Denver beat Dallas with the Mavericks honoring retiring Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo as a ceremonial player.
With nothing at stake in a lost season that will be the worst for Dallas (32-49) since going 20-62 in 1997-98, the Mavericks followed through with an idea hatched in part by star Dirk Nowitzki weeks ago when it was clear Romo wasn’t returning to the Cowboys.
Romo was honored exactly a week after announcing he was leaving football to become the No. 1 NFL analyst at CBS.
The soon-to-be-37-year-old had the crowd on its feet in the final minute hoping he could play, but Romo wasn’t on the roster or under contract.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Victor Oladipo scored 20 points and hit a jumper with 6.3 seconds to play to lift Russell Westbrook-less Oklahoma City over Minnesota.
With Westbrook resting for the first time this season, Oladipo also had nine rebounds and six assists, and the Thunder outrebounded Minnesota 54-35. Starters Taj Gibson and Andre Roberson also sat out as the Thunder prepare for a first-round series against Houston. Domantas Sabonis added 19 points and nine rebounds.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Metta World Peace scored a team-leading 18 points during what might have been his final home game for the Lakers, and Los Angeles extended its late-season winning streak to five games with a victory over New Orleans.
World Peace made his 840th career NBA start and hit four 3-pointers while scoring all of his points in the second half, thrilling his younger teammates and setting off chants of his name from the Staples Center crowd.
Although he hasn’t announced his retirement, the 37-year-old veteran of 17 NBA seasons got several standing ovations down the stretch.
Cheick Diallo scored 19 points for the Pelicans, who lost their fifth straight while playing without big men Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.