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Bulls Are Home-Free, Cavs Stay Alive

Associated Press
Wednesday, April 20, 2005; Page D09

Rookie Ben Gordon scored 16 points and hit the game-winner with 5.8 seconds left in Chicago's 92-91 victory over the visiting New York Knicks last night as the Bulls locked up home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

Chicago will open its first playoff appearance since 1998 against Washington, which lost any chance for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference by losing at New Jersey.

Boston's Ricky Davis heads to the hoop against Sasha Pavlovic (3) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas during Cleveland's 100-86 victory in its home finale. (Mark Duncan -- AP)

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Kirk Hinrich scored 28 of his 34 points in the second half for Chicago, which will play its playoff opener Sunday.

With New York ahead 91-90, the Bulls had three chances to take the lead in the closing minute. Gordon missed a three-pointer and got his own rebound, but stepped out with 35 seconds left. Then with 12 seconds to go, Tyson Chandler was called for an illegal screen by referee Eddie Rush.

Chicago quickly fouled Jamal Crawford, who missed two straight free throws. Gordon then hit a 16-foot jumper over Jermaine Jackson with 5.8 seconds left, and Crawford missed an 18-footer that would have won it for New York. Gordon was carried off the court in celebration by Chandler.

CAVALIERS 100, CELTICS 86: Robert Traylor jumped onto the scorer's table, right above the spot where he had kicked open a hole moments earlier, and thrust his powerful arms into the confetti-filled air.

After an ownership change, a coaching change and a change in direction, Cleveland still has a playoff pulse.

"We've got a chance," Traylor said. "That's about all we can ask for. We put ourselves in this hole."

LeBron James and Traylor made sure host Cleveland's topsy-turvy season would have at least one more meaningful game.

James had 32 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, while Traylor came off the bench to score a career-high 22 points and Eric Snow added a season-high 13 assists for the Cavs (41-40), who are tied with New Jersey for the eighth and final playoff in the Eastern Conference but don't own the tiebreaker.

Cleveland, which won for just the third time in nine games, closed its final home game with a 10-0 run to put away the Celtics, who did not play Antoine Walker or Paul Pierce in the fourth quarter.

The Cavaliers' first playoff appearance since 1998 seemed a certainty before they went 10-19 after Feb. 25. Now, they need to win at Toronto in their season finale tonight and hope the Celtics can beat the Nets.

PISTONS 95, HAWKS 68: Tayshaun Prince scored 20 points and Ben Wallace added 15 points and 17 rebounds to power visiting Detroit to its 11th consecutive victory.

The Pistons, playing without injured starters Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace, also got a career-high 16 points from Darko Milicic, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 draft who made his first career start.

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