Raef LaFrentz and Antoine Walker combined to hit three three-pointers in the final 1 minute 32 seconds to lead the Boston Celtics to a 119-110 victory over the Bobcats last night in Charlotte.
Walker finished with 25 points to lead the Celtics to their fourth straight victory and a four-game season sweep of the Bobcats. Boston has won eight of nine games since reacquiring Walker in a trade with Atlanta last month.
The Celtics' Antoine Walker finds quickest way to the basket between the Bobcats' Primoz Brezec, left, and Jason Hart.
(Chuck Burton -- AP)
"Right now we are playing good basketball and at a high energy level and we are trying to make a run for this Atlantic Division title," Walker said.
Ricky Davis led the Celtics with 27 points. Paul Pierce and LaFrentz scored 15 each, Gary Payton finished with 12 and Tony Allen had 11.
Matt Carroll, a guard signed from the NBDL last month, scored 18 points to lead the Bobcats, who lost their seventh straight game. Jason Kapono added 17 and Emeka Okafor, Brevin Knight and Keith Bogans had 16 each.
It was a contentious game, with five technical fouls called, including consecutive calls on Charlotte Coach Bernie Bickerstaff that forced him to the locker room with more than 10 minutes to play in the game.
Boston led just 93-89 when Bickerstaff was kicked out, but the Bobcats went scoreless on six consecutive possessions and the Celtics pulled away. Davis, who started his career in Charlotte as a Hornet, hit a three-pointer and a jumper for a 100-89 lead.
Long before Bickerstaff's technical, Knight was called for one and was so angry he had to be restrained by all four of his teammates on the floor. Bickerstaff took him out of the game, and the two had a heated exchange.
HEAT 110, BUCKS 71: Securing the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs appears to be little more than a formality. Now, Dwyane Wade and Miami are focused on the best record in the NBA.
Wade scored 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting in just 26 minutes, Shaquille O'Neal added 21 points and the Heat led by 40 points in its home win, which moved it into a virtual tie with Phoenix for the league's top overall record.
It was the largest victory margin of the season for Miami (49-16), which has won a league-best nine straight overall and 13 in a row at home.
PISTONS 114, HAWKS 108: Tayshaun Prince scored a career-high 31 points and visiting Detroit bounced back from the lowest-scoring game in franchise history.
Rasheed Wallace scored a season-best 28 points for the Pistons, who didn't have any trouble scoring against the NBA's worst team. Atlanta lost for the 15th time in 16 games despite Al Harrington's season-high 37 points.
SPURS 112, HORNETS 89: Tim Duncan had 18 points and 13 rebounds for host San Antonio after missing two games because of a sprained right ankle and tightness in his back.
While Duncan returned, point guard Tony Parker missed his first game of the season because of a quadriceps injury, and Manu Ginobili sat out with a groin injury.
GRIZZLIES 104, TRAIL BLAZERS 83: Mike Miller scored 27 points to lead host Memphis.
Lorenzen Wright had 19 points and nine rebounds for Memphis, which dropped an 80-66 decision to the Trail Blazers on Saturday.
ROCKETS 97, WARRIORS 94: Tracy McGrady had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists and Houston wrapped up its unbeaten West Coast swing. Juwan Howard added 18 points and seven rebounds before leaving with a sprained right knee late in the Rockets' fifth straight victory.