The New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets played like they want to meet the Chicago Bulls.
The two New York-area teams, hoping to finish seventh in the Eastern Conference and earn a first-round playoff matchup with Miami, each lost at home Tuesday night. New York fell 104-102 to Washington and New Jersey dropped a 96-92 decision to Toronto."This game stunned me," coach John Calipari said after the Nets blew an 11-point third-quarter lead in failing to clinch their first playoff berth since 1994. "But I can't point to one guy. I have to point to the whole roster."
But the Nets, who are one-half game ahead of New York, didn't lose ground to the Knicks, who on the same day lost to Washington and a protest over their controversial loss on Sunday at Miami.
"We obviously lost twice tonight," coach Jeff Van Gundy said after his team missed an opportunity to clinch the playoffs. "The one thing that was in our control we didn't take care of."
New York, who can clinch the playoffs with one win in its final two games, failed to eliminate the Wizards from playoff contention and to move ahead of New Jersey. The eighth-place team in the East plays Chicago in the first round, while the seventh-place team plays Miami.
"It was there for us, we knew our situation and we didn't play well enough to get it done," Van Gundy said.
The Wizards must win their final three games and hope either New York or New Jersey loses the rest of its games to make the playoffs.
Keith Van Horn had 25 points and a career-high 16 rebounds for the Nets, who can clinch a playoff berth by winning one of their final three games.
SUPERSONICS 110, GRIZZLIES 98: Gary Payton scored 27 points and Seattle reached the 60-win plateau for the third time in five seasons. The Sonics remained a game in front of the Los Angeles Lakers in the Pacific Division.
Tony Massenburg led visiting Vancouver with 22 points.
HORNETS 104, BUCKS 82: Glen Rice scored 30 points and Charlotte snapped a five-game road skid. The Hornets remained one game ahead of Atlanta for fourth place in the East and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Ervin Johnson had 17 rebounds and 16 points for Milwaukee.
HAWKS 95, 76ERS 94: Alan Henderson scored a career-high 39 points, and Mookie Blaylock's 10th steal of the game prevented a potential game-winning shot for host Atlanta.
Blaylock finished with 11 assists and 14 points and to record his second triple-double of the season. Allen Iverson led Philadelphia with 26 points.
CAVALIERS 95, CELTICS 86: Shawn Kemp had 22 points and 10 rebounds as host Cleveland clinched at least sixth place in the East. The victory was the Cavs' 46th of the season, four more than last year's total after changing the entire starting lineup.
Antoine Walker led the Celtics with 31 points.
ROCKETS 94, NUGGETS 88: Mario Elie scored 23 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, as Houston overcame a 14-point halftime deficit.
Hakeem Olajuwon finished with 13 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists as the Rockets dropped Denver to 2-37 on the road. LaPhonso Ellis and Cory Alexander led the Nuggets with 22 points each.
TRAIL BLAZERS 92, KINGS 66: Reserve Walt Williams scored all 19 of his points in the second quarter as host Portland clinched the No. 6 playoff spot in the Western Conference. Corliss Williamson scored 12 for Sacramento.
LAKERS 111, MAVERICKS 95: Shaquille O'Neal scored 34 points as Los Angeles rolled to its 14th victory in 16 games. Michael Finley scored 23 points for host Dallas.