With Howard Still Sidelined, Magic Lose

The shot 60.6 percent and made their first eight attempts of the fourth quarter to hold off , 115-107, on Tuesday night in Miami.

Kevin Garnett made 11 of 14 shots and had 27 points and 9 rebounds for Boston, and Paul Pierce scored 24 points. Rajon Rondo posted double-digit assists for the 18th straight game, extending the N.B.A.’s longest such streak in 20 years with an 18-point, 15-assist effort.

Boston shot well everywhere, including 9 for 14 from 3-point range and 20 of 25 at the free-throw line.

LeBron James finished with 36 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists for Miami, and Dwyane Wade added 20 points.

Boston improved to 18-7 since the All-Star break and dealt Miami a blow in the race for the No. 1 seed in the East. “It took a while, but we’re peaking at the right time,” Rondo said.

The Heat fell three games behind the Chicago Bulls, who defeated the Knicks later Tuesday.

76ERS 107, NETS 88 Center Spencer Hawes came off the bench for the first time and a scored a season-high 19 points to lead slumping Philadelphia in Newark. The 76ers got a big game from their bench, with Lou Williams adding 20 points and Thaddeus Young 19.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak and was only the fifth in 15 games for Philadelphia (30-27), which leads the Knicks by a game for the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The loss eliminated the Nets (21-38) from playoff contention for the fifth straight season.

MAVERICKS 110, KINGS 100 Dirk Nowitzki and Rodrigue Beaubouis each scored 15 points to lead six Dallas players in double figures, and the Mavericks won their last game before hitting the road.

The Mavericks, who had lost three of their previous four games, are seventh in the Western Conference, a half-game behind Houston and a half-game ahead of Denver. Dallas plays six of its last eight games on the road, with a four-game trip in five days starting Thursday at Golden State.

WIZARDS 93, MAGIC 85 Kevin Seraphin, a second-year forward from French Guiana, took advantage of Dwight Howard’s absence from Orlando’s lineup, getting career highs of 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead host Washington. Howard missed his second straight game because of back spasms and his fourth in six games. The Magic have lost three of four in his absence.

CAVALIERS 103, BOBCATS 90 Lester Hudson, signed from the N.B.A. Development League last month, scored 25 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, as host Cleveland handed Charlotte its 13th loss in a row. The Bobcats are a league-worst 7-49.

RECORD D-LEAGUE GRADUATES The Development League had 50 players called up to N.B.A. teams this season, 10 more than its previous high in the 2009-10 season. Twenty-five percent of N.B.A. rosters are D-League alumni.

SUMMER LEAGUE RETURNING The N.B.A. summer league will return to Las Vegas in July after it was canceled last year because of the lockout.

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Celtics Top Timberwolves as Garnett Outplays Kevin Love

The 35-year-old Garnett has heard some suggest that the 23-year-old Kevin Love has already usurped him as the best Timberwolves player ever. But on Friday night Garnett had 24 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists in a return to Target Center, and the outmuscled Love and the Timberwolves, 100-79.

“If you all know anything about me, you know that I was more than ready and prepared tonight,” Garnett said.

Love had 22 points and 11 rebounds but succumbed to Garnett’s physical defense.

Paul Pierce added 21 points and Rajon Rondo had 17 assists for the Celtics, who have won four in a row and are alone in first place in the Atlantic Division for the first time all season.

HEAT 113, RAPTORS 101 Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh scored 30 points each and visiting Miami beat Toronto for its seventh straight win over the Raptors.

LeBron James had 26 points and 9 assists, and Mario Chalmers added 14 points for the Heat.

DeMar DeRozan scored 28 points and Andrea Bargnani had 27 for Toronto, which lost for the sixth time in eight games.

WIZARDS 97, 76ERS 76 Host Washington built a big lead and held on to it for a change, ending a five-game losing streak. Cartier Martin tied a career high with 20 points in his second game under a 10-day contract.

The 76ers have lost six of nine and are struggling to score. The loss knocked them out of a first-place tie with the Celtics in the Atlantic Division.

Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young led Philadelphia with 14 points apiece.

BUCKS 121, CAVALIERS 84 Brandon Jennings scored 28 points as visiting Milwaukee routed Cleveland and closed to a game and a half behind the Knicks for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The rookie Kyrie Irving scored 29 points to lead Cleveland before leaving in the fourth quarter with a sprained right shoulder.

MAVERICKS 100, MAGIC 98 Dirk Nowitzki banked in a jumper with 5.9 seconds left and scored a game-high 28 points to lead Dallas to its sixth straight victory over the Magic in Orlando.

Jameer Nelson scored 24 points to lead the Magic. Ryan Anderson added 21 and Dwight Howard finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds.

BULLS 83, PISTONS 71 Luol Deng scored 20 points, and Joakim Noah added 19 points and 12 rebounds for host Chicago as the Bulls improved their league-best record to 42-11 even though the star guard Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton remained sidelined by injuries.

NUGGETS 99, BOBCATS 88 Arron Afflalo scored 12 of his team-high 19 points in the second half and added 11 rebounds as visiting Denver held off Charlotte.

Gerald Henderson had 21 points to lead the Bobcats, who have lost six straight games and remain the only team in the league with fewer than 10 victories.

ROCKETS 98, GRIZZLIES 89 Goran Dragic scored a season-high 25 points and Courtney Lee added 17 as the Rockets beat Memphis, which has not won in Houston since April 2006.

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N.B.A. ROUNDUP; Pacers’ Comeback Victory Keeps Celtics Stumbling

Roy Hibbert scored 26 points and the Indiana Pacers rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the visiting Boston Celtics, 107-100, on Monday night and remain in sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Danny Granger had 18 points and Darren Collison 17 for the Pacers. Indiana outscored Boston, 26-15, in the fourth quarter.

Hibbert said, ”I just came out aggressive and wanted to be a force down there offensively and defensively.”

Paul Pierce led Boston with 23 points, and Glen Davis added 20 for the Celtics, who are fading in their quest to catch Chicago for the best record in the East. Boston is 5-7 since March 9 and trails the Bulls by two games.

”We became a great team because we were known to do it for 48 minutes,” the Celtics’ Kevin Garnett said. ”We seem to be missing that right now.”

Indiana remained a game ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats in the East.

WIZARDS 100, JAZZ 95 The rookie John Wall scored 28 points and Jordan Crawford hit a key shot at the end of regulation and made two steals in overtime to lead Washington to only its second road win. Crawford finished with 25 points, including 8 in the fourth quarter and the game-tying shot with 4.4 seconds left. Utah has lost six in a row.

76ERS 97, BULLS 85 Thaddeus Young scored 21 points and Philadelphia built a 23-point lead and held on, ending Chicago’s 14-game home winning streak.

Chicago, losing for only the second time in its last 14 games over all, got 31 points from Derrick Rose, who also had 10 turnovers. Andre Iguodala added 19 points and 7 assists for the 76ers.

TRAIL BLAZERS 100, SPURS 92 Andre Miller scored 26 points and visiting Portland beat banged-up San Antonio as Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan sat out with injuries.

The Spurs have the best record in the N.B.A., 57-17, but have lost a season-high four games in a row and two in three days to the Blazers. San Antonio’s Western Conference lead over the Los Angeles Lakers is down to three and a half games.

BOBCATS 87, BUCKS 86 Gerald Henderson scored the final 7 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds left, and short-handed Charlotte staged an unlikely comeback to beat visiting Milwaukee.

Starting with no available centers before losing their top two point guards to injuries, the Bobcats remained in playoff contention after Brandon Jennings missed two layups and a 3-pointer in the final 15 seconds that would have put the Bucks ahead.

The Bobcats held Milwaukee scoreless over the final 3:52.

Kwame Brown, the Bobcats’ starting center, left the team Monday to be with his ill daughter in Georgia, and Joel Przybilla (knee) and DeSagana Diop (Achilles’ tendon) were already sidelined.

JAMES HOMECOMING, PART IILeBron James will play in Cleveland for the second time since rejecting the Cavaliers last summer as a free agent when the Miami Heat goes to Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night.

Nearly four months since his last visit, he is not expecting as much outward hostility. ”Can’t get no worse than it was Dec. 2,” he said. ”I know that for a fact.”

James scored 38 points and powered the Heat to a 118-90 victory, triggering a plunge by the Cavaliers, who have the league’s worst record (14-58).

PHOTO: The Bobcats’ Stephen Jackson, who had 18 points, got by the Bucks’ Luc Mbah a Moute. (PHOTOGRAPH BY CHUCK BURTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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