Miami Heat got a critical boost in postseason positioning by beating the Toronto Raptors 92-89 on Tuesday night. Shaquille O'Neal had 16 points and 12 rebounds, Udonis Haslem added 16 points.
The Heat led by 10 early in the fourth and saw that margin whittled to one in the final moments, yet held on to move back ahead of Washington into first place in the Southeast Division. They won the season series with the Raptors, 2-1 - meaning they hold the tiebreaker with Toronto if the teams finish with identical records.
Eddie Jones and Jason Williams each had 14 points for Miami, which held Toronto to 38 percent shooting.
Chris Bosh had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Raptors. T.J. Ford's long and potentially game-tying 3-pointer rimmed out with 2.9 seconds left, and the clock ran out.
Pistons 100, Pacers 85
At Indianapolis, Tayshaun Prince scored 24 points, and Detroit beat to guarantee the Pacers their first losing season in a decade.
Richard Hamilton scored 19 points and Chris Webber added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Pistons. Detroit forward Rasheed Wallace hyperextended the pointer finger on his left (non-shooting) hand in the first half and played just a few possessions after the break.
Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal had 20 points and seven rebounds after sitting out Sunday's game against San Antonio with a sore left knee. The Pacers (32-42) last had a losing season in 1996-97, when they went 39-43. That also was the last time they missed the playoffs.
Bobcats 122, Wizards 102
At Charlotte, North Carolina, Gerald Wallace had 34 points and 14 rebounds, and Charlotte beat Washington in the Wizards' first game without injured forward Caron Butler.
Walter Herrmann added 21 points, Emeka Okafor had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Raymond Felton had 17 points and 14 assists for the Bobcats, who shot 57 percent and were never threatened in the second half.
Gilbert Arenas scored 33 points, but got little help as the Wizards lost for the fifth time in seven games. Butler, an All-Star averaging a career-high 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds, broke his right hand in Sunday's win over Milwaukee is likely out for the season.
Cavaliers 101, Timberwolves 88
At Minneapolis, two nights after an achy right knee kept him out of the lineup, LeBron James returned with 31 points,12 rebounds and six assists in Cleveland's victory over Minnesota.
James wasted little time showing his teammates and the Timberwolves that his knee was just fine, scoring 15 points and grabbing five rebounds in the first quarter, then adding three monster dunks for effect.
Kevin Garnett had 22 points and 12 rebounds and was the only starter in double figures for the Timberwolves, who were overwhelmed by the tag team of James and Drew Gooden, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Suns 116, Grizzlies 111
At Memphis, Tennessee, Amare Stoudemire scored 27 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter to help Phoenix hold off a Memphis rally.
Stoudemire was one of five players in double figures for the Suns, who won their third straight. Leandro Barbosa scored 24 points, while Shawn Marion added 17 points and 12 rebounds. Steve Nash had 15 points and 17 assists.
Pau Gasol led Memphis with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Hakim Warrick finished with 22 points and 16 boards. Reserve Chucky Atkins scored 19 points.
Spurs 110, SuperSonics 91
At San Antonio, Bruce Bowen made six 3-pointers and scored 18 points, and San Antonio beat Seattle to sweep the four-game season series.
Tony Parker had 16 points and Tim Duncan added 14 for the Spurs, who had five players in double figures.
Though the game was rarely close, it wasn't as bad as the beating the Sonics took late last month, when the Spurs beat them 120-79 for one of Seattle's worst home losses in franchise history.
Chris Wilcox led Seattle with 20 points, followed by Rashard Lewis with 19 and Johan Petro with 14.
Hornets 119, Bucks 101
At Milwaukee, David West scored 24 points, Desmond Mason added 21, and New Orleans handed Milwaukee its seventh straight loss.
The Hornets (34-40) moved within 2Ѕ games of the idle Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Hornets have not made the playoffs since the 2003-04 season.
Tyson Chandler added 18 points and 20 rebounds for the Hornets, while Chris Paul had eight points and 14 assists. It was Chandler's seventh double-double in the last eight games.
The Bucks (25-48) matched their longest losing streak of the season. Michael Redd, who returned to the lineup after missing a loss Sunday to the Washington Wizards with a sore left knee, led Milwaukee with 27 points.