Lakers get No 7 seed; Anthony wins scoring title
Updated: 2013-04-19 08:20
By Associated Press in Los Angeles (China Daily)
The Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol loses control of the ball during their game against the Houston Rockets in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The Lakers won in overtime, 99-95, and gained the No 7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
Though it will be without an injured Bryant, LA ready for Spurs in playoffs
The Los Angeles Lakers secured a playoff spot even before taking the court, then needed overtime of their own game to learn where they were seeded.
The Clippers also had to wait until the final minutes of the NBA regular season to learn their fate, clinching home-court advantage for their first-round series against Memphis.
The Grizzlies guaranteed the Lakers' turbulent season would continue earlier on Wednesday when they beat the Utah Jazz 86-70. The Lakers then moved up to the No 7 seed by outlasting Houston 99-95 in overtime of their regular-season finale.
Without the injured Kobe Bryant, the Lakers will face the No 2 San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
The Grizzlies were hoping their victory would give them home-court advantage against the Clippers, but Los Angeles earned it by winning 112-108 at Sacramento in what could be the Kings' final game there.
The Clippers, who won their first Pacific Division title, earned the No 4 seed and will host the Grizzlies on Saturday in a rematch of their seven-game victory in the first round last year.
Carmelo Anthony won his first scoring title when he and Kevin Durant both sat out their games. The New York Knicks beat Atlanta 98-92 without Anthony, and Chicago took the No 5 seed in the Eastern Conference and the Hawks settled for No 6.
The playoffs will open on Saturday with New York hosting Boston, and Chicago visiting the Nets in the first post-season game in Brooklyn. Defending champion and top-seeded Miami hosts Milwaukee on Sunday, when the Hawks visit the Indiana Pacers.
Also in the West, No 3 Denver, a league-best 38-3 at home, hosts No 6 Golden State on Saturday.
Anthony finished with 28.7 points per game in becoming the first Knicks player since Bernard King in 1984-85 to win the scoring title. The Knicks went 54-28, their best season since going 57-25 in 1996-97.
"He's just been solid all the way across the board in everything he's done for this team and that's why we're in the position we're in today," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.
Durant averaged 28.1 points, falling short in his bid to join Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to win four straight scoring titles.
Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder are the No 1 seed in the West and will play Houston and All-Star James Harden, the league's top sixth man last season, whom the Thunder dealt to the Rockets in the preseason.
"I certainly know going into this last stretch of the season, we had a lot of tough games on the road, a lot of good playoff teams," Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "We had a stretch there, it seems like every night was a game of a lot of implications on playoff positioning.
"I like how we're playing. You always want to play good basketball down the stretch. It doesn't mean you're going to have guaranteed success in the playoffs, but we know what we have to do and we're looking forward to the challenge ahead of us."
(China Daily 04/19/2013 page24)