Basketball

Clippers and Celtics confirm play-off places

The red-hot Los Angeles Clippers clinched an NBA play-off berth yesterday morning (Singapore time) with their sixth win in a row, Danilo Gallinari scoring 25 points in a 122-111 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Clippers are back in the post-season after missing out last year, becoming the fifth Western Conference team to punch their ticket.

In the East, the Boston Celtics' play-off spot was confirmed with a 116-106 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, coupled with the Detroit Pistons' 95-92 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Al Horford and Marcus Smart came up big for the Celtics in the fourth quarter in Cleveland.

Boston were clinging to a 96-94 lead at the 6:26 mark of the final period when the veteran Celtics duo exploded, combining to outscore the Cavaliers 15-6 over the next 4min 20sec and putting the visitors up 111-100.

Lower in the table, the battle continued to rage for the last remaining berths, the Orlando Magic leapfrogging the Miami Heat for the eighth and final spot with a 104-99 victory at Miami.

The Heat squandered an early 17-point lead and lost for the third time in four games this season against Orlando - which gives the Magic the play-off tie-breaker.

The defeat spoiled Miami's celebrations honouring former Heat star Chris Bosh, whose No. 1 jersey was retired at an emotional half-time ceremony. - REUTERS

OTHER RESULTS: Charlotte 125 San Antonio 116 (OT), Toronto 112 Chicago 103, Milwaukee 108 Houston 94, New Orleans 120 Atlanta 130, Dallas 121 Sacramento 125, LA Lakers 124 Washington 106.

Basketball