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At Last, Bulls Return to the Playoffs

Associated Press
Sunday, April 10, 2005; Page E08

The Chicago Bulls secured their first playoff berth since the Michael Jordan era, beating the visiting Toronto Raptors, 110-97, last night.

Chicago is headed to the playoffs for the first time since the 1997-98 season, when Jordan led the Bulls to their sixth NBA title.


The Nets' Vince Carter, left, moves past the Celtics' Ricky Davis during the first quarter. Carter scored 24 points to the Celtics' 19 in the quarter. (Bill Kostroun -- AP)

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The Bulls have won three straight and 12 of their last 13 and are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, two games ahead of idle Indiana.

Kirk Hinrich scored 25 points and five Bulls scored in double figures. Tyson Chandler had a season-high 18 points and finished with 21 rebounds in a reserve role. Antonio Davis had 13 points and 13 rebounds, Andres Nocioni scored 16 and Othella Harrington added 12.

NETS 99, CELTICS 86: Making a pregame speech about being ready for the opening tip-off wasn't enough for Vince Carter. His contribution to host New Jersey's playoff push was a career-best quarter and almost a career-best game.

Carter outscored the visiting Boston Celtics 24-19 in the first quarter en route to a season-best 45 points. The 24 points were a single-quarter high in the NBA this year.

Jason Kidd added a season-high 17 assists and rookie center Nenad Krstic had 17 points.

The Nets (38-39) have five games to play in their bid to catch Philadelphia or Cleveland for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

CAVALIERS 98, BUCKS 81: LeBron James made sure the only thing that dropped for host Cleveland were his shots.

James made a career-high seven three-pointers and scored 40 points -- 28 in the first half -- as the Cavaliers kept their weak grasp on a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

By snapping a three-game losing streak and winning for just the fifth time in 15 games, Cleveland (39-37) slowed its free fall through the Central Division standings. With six games left, the Cavaliers are tied with Philadelphia for the No. 7 spot in the East, 1 1/2 games ahead of New Jersey.

James added 10 assists and 10 rebounds for his third triple-double this season.

HAWKS 105, TIMBERWOLVES 98: Tyronn Lue scored 23 points, including 12 straight in the fourth quarter, and host Atlanta ended a 14-game losing streak and handed Minnesota a devastating blow to its dwindling playoff hopes.

The Timberwolves, led by Kevin Garnett's 31 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists, fell four games behind eighth-place Memphis in the race for the final playoff spot in the West with five games remaining.


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