CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Pascal Siakam scored 36 points, Fred VanVleet added 20 points and a career-high 20 assists and the Toronto Raptors beat the undermanned Charlotte Hornets 128-108 on Sunday to secure a spot in the NBA play-in tournament.

O.G. Anunoby added 23 points for the Raptors, who clinched after the Brooklyn Nets beat the Utah Jazz later in the day.

The Raptors (39-39) are now focused on seeding with four games remaining.

They entered the day tied with the Atlanta Hawks for eighth place in the Eastern Conference and looking to move up in the standings to secure a better chance of advancing out of the play-in tournament. The team finishing eighth needs just one victory; the team finishing ninth would need two to reach the postseason as the No. 8 seed.

“It’s really important for us” to get to the 8 seed, VanVleet said. “For the last couple of weeks it has been really simple for us – we’re in a win-every-game mode. There’s not much to think about. You have to go out and perform and play your best and try to take care of business. We are just trying to play our best basketball at this time of the year.”

VanVleet, who now owns the franchise single-game records for points and assists, made sure the Raptors were on top of their game.

The Raptors outscored the Hornets 90-44 in the paint in the opener of a two-game series, which helped offset 8-of-28 shooting from 3-point range. The teams meet again Tuesday night in Charlotte.


CHICAGO (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies looked as though they were well on their way to yet another win. The Chicago Bulls had other ideas.

Zach LaVine scored 36 points, DeMar DeRozan added 31 and the Bulls used a huge second half to beat the Grizzlies 128-107 and overcome Ja Morant’s triple-double Sunday.

The Bulls outscored the Western Conference’s second-place team 75-39 over the final two quarters after trailing by 23. They dominated the Grizzlies 40-16 in the third, ending it on a 17-0 run while taking the lead. And they responded with another big push in the fourth after Memphis pulled within three.

It wasn’t hard to see why LaVine called it “for sure” their best second half.

“For how much we were down, to be able to come back and get a lead like we did, I think it’s great,” he said. “You gotta definitely pat yourself on the back.”

Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 31 points and made five 3-pointers for the Grizzlies, who had won eight of nine. Morant had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Desmond Bane scored 21, but the Grizzlies committed 18 turnovers, leading to 31 points for Chicago.

The Bulls, eyeing a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament, tied a franchise low with three turnovers.

LaVine had nine assists. Coby White scored 19, and Nikola Vucevic added 13 points and 10 rebounds.


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Shaedon Sharpe scored 27 points, Kevin Knox II added 19 points and the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers beat the playoff-hopeful Minnesota Timberwolves 107-105 on Sunday.

Trendon Watford had 15 points and Skylar Mays finished with 13 points and nine assists in his second game with Portland, which had lost 11 of 12 and was without four regular starters.

The Trail Blazers trailed by 12 late in the third quarter before rallying to beat Minnesota, which started the day ninth in the Western Conference.

“Every single person that got out on that floor tonight, they gave it all they had and that’s all I want from our guys,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said. “To play as hard as you can, play unselfish and be a good teammate and see what happens.”

Anthony Edwards scored 37 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost three in a row and started the day a half-game behind the Los Angeles Lakers and a game ahead of Oklahoma City for the 10th and the final play-in spot in the West.

“We have too many guys not playing really well right now,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. “This was kind of who we’ve been all season in these types of games and we do it again. You know, obviously, timing of it is extra painful, but we got to get guys playing better.”

While they’re in the running for the playoffs, the Timberwolves are 5-10 against the five teams with the worst records in the NBA.


NEW YORK (AP) Mikal Bridges had 30 points and seven rebounds, helping the Brooklyn Nets move closer to clinching a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference by holding off the Utah Jazz 111-110 on Sunday.

Spencer Dinwiddie had 17 points and 12 assists, his eighth double-double in 23 games for Brooklyn. The Nets won their third straight, but only after blowing almost all of a 20-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.

“There’s only one winner and one loser in every single game; we won,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “So we’re going to take the win and we’re going to keep this thing moving.”

Cam Johnson scored 18 points as the Nets won for the fourth time in their past five games, opening a two-game lead over Miami for the No. 6 seed and dipping their magic number to two to clinch the last guaranteed playoff spot in the East.

“It was a nasty win,” said Nets center Nic Claxton, who had 14 points and seven rebounds. “We know where we are. We know every game is extremely important.”

Talen Horton-Tucker scored 32 points and Lauri Markkanen had 23 points and nine rebounds for the Jazz, who lost for the fifth time in six games and are 12th in the West, two spots behind the last play-in spot. Ochai Agbaji had 19 points.

“I love the competitiveness,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “I thought the guys dug in, stuck with it when they very easily could’ve folded at different times in the game.”

Brooklyn led by 11 at halftime, then outscored Utah 28-15 over a span of 10 1/2 minutes between the third and fourth quarters to build a 23-point lead. Bridges had 17 of his 19 second-half points in the third quarter.

“We were really moving the basketball,” Vaughn said. “Mikal had a good stretch where he was able to convert for us, but (Claxton) was getting to the rim for us, (Dinwiddie) was getting downhill. It was kind of spread throughout the team, which was a good thing.”

Horton-Tucker scored 15 in the fourth and Utah outscored Brooklyn 42-26 in the quarter. The Jazz used a 26-8 run to cut Brooklyn’s lead to one and had a chance to win after Seth Curry missed two free throws, but Kelly Olynyk’s jumper at the buzzer went long.


ATLANTA (AP) Trae Young made two free throws with 1.8 seconds remaining in overtime to give Atlanta the lead and the Hawks beat the Dallas Mavericks 132-130 on Sunday night to keep pace in the Eastern Conference play-in race.

Young was fouled by Kyrie Irving, who scored 41 points, with the game tied at 130 on what Young said was “kind of a lucky play for us and unlucky for them.”

Young said he accidently stepped on the foot of Mavericks guard Josh Green before crashing into Irving. “I just got in Kyrie’s way,” Young said.

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said “it was a wild ending” and added “it was just unfortunate we got a foul there that could have gone either way.”

Following Young’s free throws, Luke Doncic, who scored 22 points, missed a last-second 3-pointer.

“I thought Luke got a great look there at the end,” Kidd said. “He’s the one who can make it.”

The Hawks (39-39) moved back into eighth place in the play-in race. Toronto and Chicago put pressure on the Hawks with wins before Atlanta’s game. The Hawks have the tiebreaker advantage over Toronto.

The Hawks are only one ahead of the 10th-place Bulls for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference and play at Chicago on Tuesday night.

Irving’s mid-range jumper with 37 seconds remaining in regulation tied the game at 121. Saddiq Bey’s layup gave the lead back to Atlanta.


NEW YORK (AP) Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes each scored 27 points, and the New York Knicks clinched a playoff berth with a 118-109 victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday night.

Immanuel Quickley added 22 points and Obi Toppin had 21 for the Knicks, who won their fourth in a row and will be in the postseason for the second time in three years. They had missed the playoffs the previous seven seasons.

“Making the playoffs is a great accomplishment, but it’s one of several,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s the next step along the way. Just keep checking the boxes.”

Mitchell Robinson contributed eight points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks, who have won both games since losing All-Star forward Julius Randle to a sprained left ankle.

“Every time someone goes out it’s a chance for someone else to get in and get the job done,” Thibodeau added. “That gives your team a lot of confidence. It gives us quality depth and makes us a tough team.”

Corey Kispert led Washington with a career-high 29 points. Johnny Davis had 16 and Taj Gibson added 14.

The Knicks trailed by as many as 10 points in the second quarter and 61-53 at halftime. The Wizards extended their lead to 64-55 before the Knicks went on a 14-4 run to reclaim a lead they never gave back.

“We just had to wake up a little bit,” Brunson said. “We needed a little wake-up call at halftime and Coach gave it to us and we responded. Better to learn from wins than from losses.”

New York extended its advantage to 86-79 at the end of the third quarter. Toppin opened the final quarter with a 3-pointer, giving the Knicks their first double-digit lead.

“Down the stretch you want to be playing your best basketball. You want individuals to be playing great to help the team play great,” Quickley said. “It was good to see Obi get some great minutes today and play well. It was good to see QG play well. We need everybody coming down the stretch.”

The Wizards never got closer than eight the rest of the way.


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter Jr. had 14 points and nine rebounds each before sitting out the fourth quarter Sunday night in the Orlando Magic’s 128-102 rout of the Detroit Pistons.

Jalen Suggs led eight Orlando players in double figures with 18 points, and Cole Anthony added 17 points and six rebounds for the Magic, who shot 57.3% and won for the fifth time in six games.

Franz Wagner finished with 16 points and eight assists and a plus-minus of plus-33.

Killian Hayes scored 20 points and Eugene Omoruyi added 19 for the Pistons, who lost for the 20th time in 21 games. Jaden Ivey finished with 14 points and six assists.

Anthony and Suggs scored five points each on a 23-4 spurt that opened the second quarter and gave the Magic a 24-point lead. The Pistons, who had eight turnovers in the quarter, never threatened again and fell behind by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter.

Suggs made 4 of 6 three pointers and finished the game with four steals and two technical fouls.


Pistons: Ivey became the first rookie in franchise history to score in double figures in 65 games. … The Pistons’ only lead of the game was 4-3. … Two of Detroit’s 16 wins have come against the Magic.

Magic: C Goga Bitadze picked up a technical foul to go with his sixth personal with 6:50 remaining. … Anthony had his 11th straight double-figure scoring game and 11th straight game of a five or more rebounds. … The Magic are 29-24 since their 5-20 start.


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Doug McDermott scored 22 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, and the San Antonio Spurs denied Sacramento a chance at clinching the Pacific Division with a 142-134 win over the Kings on Sunday.

After clinching their first playoff berth since 2006 on Wednesday night on the road, the Kings were hoping to wrap up their first division title in 20 years in front of their home fans but fell short against the struggling Spurs.

“This isn’t the ideal time to have a bad loss,” guard De’Aaron Fox said. “But bad losses happen. We should have been a lot better. I don’t know how many times this team has scored 140 points, even with overtime included. We have to be much better on that end. We can’t keep talking about that.”

McDermott hit three free throws in overtime after being fouled on a 3-pointer by Keegan Murray to give the Spurs a five-point lead, then made back-to-back baskets to keep San Antonio ahead and help snap a six-game losing streak.

“It was a great night for us. A lot of guys played really well, career games from three or four guys,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “Just happy for them. They have busted their butts all year. We don’t have that many wins but they play hard like this every night.”

Julian Champagnie added a career-high 26 points and Tre Jones had 17 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for San Antonio.

Fox scored 28 points and Domantas Sabonis added 26 for the Kings, who remain two games behind Memphis in the race for second place in the Western Conference.

Fox hit a tying jumper with 36.3 seconds to play in regulation but Kevin Huerter missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer following a turnover by the Spurs.

The Kings fell to 23-17 at home, allowing a staggering 120.1 points per game.


HOUSTON (AP) Anthony Davis scored 40 points, LeBron James had 18 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds to tie Jason Kidd for fourth place with his 107th triple-double and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Houston Rockets 134-109 on Sunday night.

The Lakers (40-38) moved two games over .500 and into a tie for seventh with the New Orleans Pelicans in the Western Conference with four games to go. Los Angeles has won six of its last seven games and owns the tiebreaker over the Pelicans.

“We just want to put ourselves in the position to compete for a championship,” James said. “It’s a journey and obviously we don’t have as much chemistry as a lot of other teams that have aspirations to win a championship, but we’ve been building over the last month or so.

“These last four games are very important for our team, not only wins and losses but also the chemistry side as well. We need to continue to build what we’ve been building over the last month or so. We’ll see what happens.”

Davis scored 27 in the first half en route to his first 40-point performance since scoring 55 against the Washington Wizards on Dec. 4 and his third of the season.

“We always say we want to get stronger as the season gets longer and be playing our best basketball at the right time,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “Well, the time is definitely right and everybody’s in a good rhythm starting with (Davis) first and foremost. He understands wholeheartedly what we need him to do and he’s coming out and trying to do that.”

Davis has scored 38 points or more in three straight games and at least 37 in four of the last five.

“I’m in a great rhythm, feeling good,” Davis said. “Feel like I’m back to myself before the injury. We are all playing well. The guys are making it easy for me.”

Lakers starter D’Angelo Russell, who has started every game since being acquired in a three-team trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 9, did not return to play in the second half due to left foot soreness. Russell had six points, four assists and three rebounds in 15 minutes.

“It was definitely precautionary,” Ham said of sitting Russell for the second half. “He could have continued the game if we needed him to. The bodies we have available to us now, we just didn’t want to risk it.”

Ham said Russell will be reevaluated and see how he feels on Monday.


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant scored 35 points and the Phoenix Suns held off the Oklahoma City Thunder 128-118 on Sunday night for their fifth straight victory.

Durant – once a hero in Oklahoma City after leading the Thunder to the 2012 NBA Finals, but roundly booed nearly every time he touched the ball Sunday – scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and blocked a shot at the rim by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. That helped Phoenix hold the lead after Oklahoma City cut a 15-point deficit to three as the Suns improved to 6-0 with Durant in the lineup.

Devin Booker added 22 points and 10 assists for Phoenix, which shot 56.8% from the field to match its season high. Deandre Ayton had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Chris Paul had 16 points and eight assists. Phoenix remained fourth in the Western Conference standings.

“There’s not a way that he can’t score,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said about Durant. “Those kind of players – they want those (clutch) shots. They’re so used to having the ball in their hands. I wouldn’t call it a luxury, because I don’t want to disrespect those moments. Guys work their tails off to be ready for those shots and he and Booker are a case in point. That’s what Kevin does.”

Oklahoma City, which is battling for a spot in the NBA’s play-in tournament, lost for the third time in its last four games despite 39 points from Gilgeous-Alexander. The Thunder remained in the final play-in spot – 10th – a game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks, who lost to the Atlanta Hawks in overtime.

The Thunder led Phoenix seven points in the first quarter and were tied 27-27 entering the second quarter, but Oklahoma City surrendered a 42-point second quarter, matching the highest total by any opponent this season.

A 3-pointer by Isaiah Joe with 5:19 left pulled Oklahoma City to 109-106, but Durant hit a 3-pointer and Ayton followed with a put-back to make it 114-106 with 4:33 left. The Thunder came no closer than five points after that.

“We’ve got a week left in the regular season, and if (we) bring the same level of focus, competitiveness, physicality, execution (and) game plan … we’ll be able to lay our head on the pillow at night,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said. “I just thought we played at a really high level today and they were just a better team on this day.”


CLEVELAND (AP) All-Star Donovan Mitchell scored 40 points and Evan Mobley had 14 points and 16 rebounds as the playoff-bound Cleveland Cavaliers pulled away late for a 115-105 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night.

Darius Garland added 20 points and six assists for Cleveland, which reduced its magic number to one for clinching home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Cavaliers won for the 31st time in 40 games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

“It’s great to be in this position, but we have stuff to prove in the playoffs,” Mitchell said. “The big thing for me is we’re bringing that energy and that vibe to the city. We have expectations. We’re here to win.”

Rookie Bennedict Mathurin had 19 points, nine rebounds and three fourth-quarter offensive fouls for Indiana, which was eliminated from postseason contention for the third year in a row. T.J. McConnell had 16 points and five assists off the bench.

Mitchell became the first Cleveland player with three straight 40-point games and extended his franchise record for such games in a season to 12. He scored 17 points in the third quarter and 21 in the second half.

“Donovan has been great all season, but it’s crazy with those records he’s setting with the 40-point games,” Mobley said. “He comes to work every day with a great attitude, and we’re lucky to have him.”

The Cavaliers trailed by 11 points in the opening half and didn’t go in front for good until Garland drained a 3-pointer early in the fourth, making it 92-89. Jarrett Allen returned from a two-game absence with a groin strain and had 15 points and seven rebounds.

Cleveland leads New York by three games with four to play in the race for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks own the tiebreaker after beating the Cavaliers 130-116 on Friday.

“They’re a legit team, a top-four team in a tough conference and they have a great home-court environment,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “And they’ve got a real superstar in Mitchell. They’re pretty well set up for a long time.”

All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton missed his third straight game with a sprained right ankle and sore left elbow for Indiana. Center Myles Turner, who has been dealing with a sore left ankle all season, was out for the fifth consecutive game.


MILWAUKEE (AP) Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer believes Giannis Antetokounmpo has done enough to merit a third MVP award.

Antetokounmpo says he’s more concerned about trying to win a championship.

“When you think about the MVP, it just puts pressure on yourself,” Antetokounmpo said after scoring 33 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in the Bucks’ 117-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday. “At the end of the day, I’m happy. I’m happy where I am in life. I’m happy I’m blessed with this talent. I’m happy I’m able to go out there every day and chase my dream that I had as a little kid, try to improve, go out there and play with an edge.”

Antetokounmpo outperformed fellow MVP candidate Joel Embiid as the Bucks moved one step closer to clinching the Eastern Conference’s top seed. The other main MVP candidate is Denver’s Nikola Jokic, who won the last two seasons.

The Bucks (56-22) have a two-game lead over Boston (54-24) with four games left. Boston won the season series with Milwaukee and has the tiebreaker. Philadelphia (51-27) is third in the East.

“We certainly feel like Giannis is the MVP,” Budenholzer said. “I think what our team has been able to do – we’ve still got some more work to have the best record in the league – but best player, best record. What he does on both ends of the court – the rebounding the blocked shots, the defense, the guarding on the perimeter – he does everything. Playmakes, attacks, gets to the free-throw line. We feel like he’s in the conversation or he should be the guy.”

Antetokounmpo won the MVP in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. He’s averaging 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 5.6 assists this season.

“It’s a great compliment to be the Most Valuable Player in the league,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m happy that the last five years I’m able to be in that conversation. I’m happy I’m able to be consistent. I’m happy I’m able to help my team be great. But that’s the goal. That’s the only goal – try to keep putting myself in position to help my team be great.”

Antetokounmpo got plenty of help Sunday.

Brook Lopez scored 21 points, Khris Middleton had 19 and Jrue Holiday and Bobby Portis each added 18 as the Bucks never trailed. Middleton also had nine assists.

Tyrese Maxey had 29 points to lead the 76ers. Embiid had 28.


DENVER (AP) Jamal Murray scored 26 points and blocked Klay Thompson’s 3-point attempt in the final seconds, and the Denver Nuggets held on for a 112-110 win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.

Michael Porter Jr. had 29 points and 11 rebounds and Aaron Gordon added 13 points and 10 rebounds for short-handed Denver.

Denver (52-26) moved within a game of securing home-court advantage in the Western Conference. A victory in the final four games or one loss by Memphis will give the Nuggets the No. 1 seed for the first time in franchise history.

“I love the fact we’ve been in first place since the middle of December, but this is all geared towards the postseason and how we perform,” coach Michael Malone said. “I know when the season is over, that’s how we’re going to be judged.”

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic missed his third straight game with calf tightness that first cropped up against Milwaukee on March 25 and lingered against Philadelphia on Monday, Malone said.

Thompson led Golden State with 25 points and Stephen Curry scored 21, but struggled from the field. Curry missed his first five shots from behind the arc and finished 2 of 14 from deep.

“He’s entitled to those,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s had such an incredible year and has played so well and has done so much for us. Just a tough night.”

The Warriors (41-38) are tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for the fifth seed and are just a half-game ahead of New Orleans and the surging Lakers, who have won three straight.

“We’ve got to come to a realization that if we’re going to win or do anything in a playoff kind of scenario, a game like tonight can’t happen,” Curry said.

Golden State led by 15 in the second quarter, but the Nuggets closed within three at halftime. They led by two after three and opened the fourth quarter on an 8-3 run to lead 97-90.

Peyton Watson had a thunderous dunk with 3:58 that put Denver ahead 109-98.