The Indiana Pacers found the best cure for poor shooting and ineffective rebounding was a strong defensive effort.
The Pacers held Atlanta without a field goal for more than 10 minutes of the second half Wednesday night, posting their sixth straight victory while gaining home-court advantage for the second round of the playoffs with an 82-70 victory over the Hawks."The second half we played excellent defense," said Indiana coach Larry Bird after his team raised its franchise record for victories in an NBA season to 57 - an increase of 18 games over its 39-43 mark under Larry Brown last season.
Atlanta hit just 12 of 38 shots in the second half as its 10-point halftime lead disappeared.
Reggie Miller scored 22 points and Jalen Rose had 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. Antonio Davis also scored 13 for the Pacers, while Mark Jackson contributed 12 assists and Dale Davis grabbed 13 rebounds.
Indiana won despite being outrebounded (49-37) and shooting only 34 percent (14-of-41) in the first half.
The victory, combined with Miami's 99-87 loss to Orlando, clinched home-court advantage in the second round for the Pacers.
WIZARDS 101, CAVALIERS 93: Washington kept its slim playoff hopes alive. Tracy Murray scored 23 of his 25 points in the first half as the Wizards broke a four-game home losing streak.
Juwan Howard and Calbert Cheaney scored 20 points apiece, and Chris Webber had 14.
SUNS 98, NUGGETS 89: At Phoenix, Antonio McDyess scored 25 points, Steve Nash had a career-high 24 and Jason Kidd had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
The win put the Suns 11/2 games ahead of idle San Antonio in the race for fourth place and the home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
MAGIC 99, HEAT 87: At Miami, Nick Anderson scored 24 for the Magic, who have been eliminated from post-season contention.
"We wanted to ruin it for somebody else," Anderson said. "We are not even thinking about it (the playoffs) anymore. We know that we are not in, but we have basketball to play and we can play spoiler."
HORNETS 109, NETS 103: At Charlotte, the Hornets scored 12 of the final 14 points to move within one game of clinching home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
"That's a pretty good run at the end of the game. That shows good resolve," Dave Cowens said after the Hornets secured their second 50-victory season in his two years as their coach.
WARRIORS 92, CLIPPERS 80: At Los Angeles, Jim Jackson scored 27 points and Golden State made all 10 of its free throws in the final 1:43 to avoid a four-game season sweep.
BUCKS 117, CELTICS 109: At Boston, the Bucks sank 14 consecutive free throws in the final four minutes to put the game out of reach. Boston needs one more win to post its best record since 1992-93.