Sam Cassell and Gary Payton each scored 20 points and the Milwaukee Bucks closed with a 17-6 run over the final 41/2 minutes to beat the Heat, 91-86, last night in Miami.

The win gives the Bucks a one-game lead over the Wizards for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Cassell scored 12 of his points in the fourth quarter, when Milwaukee held off the Heat.

"Down the stretch, I'm supposed to make big shots," Cassell said. "I hit big shots everywhere. This is something I have become accustomed to doing. I'm not afraid to be the goat."

Brian Grant scored 15 points and had 17 rebounds for the Heat.

"We're going to get the eighth spot -- we're not fighting for it," Cassell said. "We have it right now. It isn't going to be easy, but nothing worth having does come easy."

* NETS 110, ROCKETS 86: Richard Jefferson had 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his first career triple-double, and Dikembe Mutombo delivered an elbow to Yao Ming's throat as host New Jersey won its fourth in a row.

Mutombo had four points and eight rebounds in his second game back from the injured list. It was his first career meeting with Yao, and Mutombo nailed him in the throat with an elbow late in the second quarter when Mutombo got into position to box out. Yao collapsed to his knees, holding his throat, and Mutombo was whistled for a foul despite his protests.

"I can't believe my elbow can reach his neck," Mutombo said. "I thought I was going to get it between his chest and stomach and box him out. Next thing I knew he was on the floor. I didn't realize that so I told him to 'get up.'

"I hope he understands me," Mutombo continued. "When we went to the other side. I asked him: 'Are you all right?' I don't know what he said."

Yao did not seem pleased -- either when the elbow hit him or when he discussed it afterward.

"I think his face is a little bit cuter than his elbow," Yao said through an interpreter.

* 76ERS 118, MAGIC 113: Allen Iverson scored 14 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter and overtime as visiting Philadelphia clinched its fifth straight playoff berth.

The 76ers won for the fourth time in five games, and for the fourth straight time on the road, to move a game ahead of idle Indiana for third place in the East. Philadelphia also kept pace, 11/2 games behind New Jersey for the Atlantic Division lead.

For Orlando, Tracy McGrady had 39 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. Orlando's primary centers, Shawn Kemp and Andrew DeClercq, combined for two points and one rebound in 19 minutes.

"I love our big men to death, but we've got to do something," McGrady said. "We can't allow a team to outrebound us by 23."

* LAKERS 110, GRIZZLIES 94: Shaquille O'Neal had 34 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocked shots, and Kobe Bryant added 29 points to lead host Los Angeles.

The win was the eighth in 11 games for the three-time defending NBA champions. The Lakers (43-31) are in seventh place in the Western Conference with eight games remaining.

The Lakers' strategy was to get the ball to O'Neal, who outweighs Grizzlies' center Lorenzen Wright by about 100 pounds.