The Indiana Pacers earned the right to be the “home” team to begin their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series against the Heat by beating Miami 109-92 on Friday in the both teams’ regular-season finale near Orlando.
The Pacers and Heat will next play in a best-of-seven playoff series, beginning Tuesday. Indiana will enter the postseason as the fourth seed in the East, while Miami will be No. 5.
With a majority of the teams’ best players sitting the game out -- including the Pacers’ T.J. Warren and Domantas Sabonis, and the Heat’s Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo -- the loosely played game saw Indiana’s Doug McDermott and Miami’s Kendrick Nunn share game-high honors with 23 points.
The scary moment occurred when Heat swingman Derrick Jones Jr. took a hard fall in the third quarter and had to be tended to on the court for several minutes. Fearing a neck injury, he was taken off the floor on a stretcher. Jones was diagnosed with a strained neck.
Philadelphia 76ers 134 - Houston Rockets 96
Tobias Harris paired 18 points with seven rebounds in 24 minutes while Joel Embiid added 14 points and six rebounds in limited action as Philadelphia turned a blistering first-half shooting display into a runaway victory over Houston.
The 76ers shot 60 percent prior to the intermission, including a robust 10 of 16 on 3-pointers, in cruising to a 24-point halftime lead.
James Harden recorded his 22nd double-double for the Rockets, posting game-highs in points (27) and assists (10). With a pair of free throws at the 5:39 mark of the first quarter, Harden passed Hall of Famer center Walt Bellamy (20,941 points) for 36th in NBA career scoring.
Toronto Raptors 117 - Denver Nuggets 109
Stanley Johnson scored a season-best 23 points to lift Toronto past Denver in the final regular-season game for both teams.
Several regulars either did no play or had limited minutes for the Raptors, who went 7-1 since the restart, have the second-best overall record in the NBA and begin the postseason next week as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Paul Watson added 22 points for Toronto, which rested Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka were out with knee injuries.
P.J. Dozier scored 20 points and Monte Morris added 16 for Denver, which is slotted as the fourth seed in the West. Top players Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray both played less than 11 minutes.
Los Angeles Clippers 107 - Oklahoma City Thunder 103 (OT)
Terance Mann recorded career bests of 25 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists, and Los Angeles defeated Oklahoma City in overtime in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Amir Coffey scored a career-high 21 points before fouling out with 6.7 seconds left for the Clippers. Patrick Patterson had 17 points and a career-best 14 rebounds, while JaMychal Green added 13 points and eight rebounds for Los Angeles.
Hamidou Diallo led the Thunder with a career-high 27 points, while Dennis Schroder contributed 17. Schroder, who recently returned to the bubble after the birth of his second child, played in his first game since Aug. 1.
--Field Level Media
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