Mavs tune up for playoffs; Spurs crush Lakers
LOS ANGELES, April 21 — Defending NBA champions Dallas prepared for another playoff run with a 104-94 victory over the Golden State Warriors yesterday while red-hot San Antonio crushed the Los Angeles Lakers despite Kobe Bryant’s return to the court.
Vince Carter had 19 points, all in the second half, and four of his teammates scored in double figures for the playoff-bound Mavericks.
“I’m just getting ready for the playoffs and being another threat for the team,” Carter told reporters. “We need to prepare ourselves for the playoffs. So regardless of if we’re playing for something or not, everybody else will be ready to go.”
Dallas gained their 12th consecutive playoff berth when Houston lost to New Orleans on Thursday.
Klay Thompson had 26 points for Golden State, who lost their seventh successive game.
In San Antonio, the Western Conference leading Spurs rolled to their sixth win in a row as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili each scored at least 20 points in their 121-97 victory over the Lakers.
Duncan led the way with 21 with Parker getting 20 and 10 assists.
The victory kept the Spurs a half-game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the race for the West’s number one seed. The Thunder beat Sacramento 103-92.
Bryant, who had missed seven games with a bruised left shin, scored 18 for the Lakers.
“I feel great,” Bryant said. “It took me a half, but in the second half I felt like I was back in the rhythm.”
The Lakers could have clinched home court in the first round of the playoffs with a win. Instead, they now lead the Clippers by only a half game in the chase for the West’s third seed with two regular season games remaining.
The New York Knicks, who have also qualified for the playoffs, were beaten 98-90 by Cleveland despite the return of Amare Stoudemire after missing 13 games with a back injury.
Stoudemire scored 15 points for the Knicks, who qualified for the playoffs on Thursday when Milwaukee lost.
Manny Harris had 19 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland. — Reuters