Cavs, Thunder clinch playoff spots as Warriors thump Mavericks

Saturday March 19 2016

LeBron James #23 and Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate during the fourth quarter of their game against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena on March 9, 2016 in Sacramento, California. PHOTO | EZRA SHAW |

LeBron James #23 and Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate during the fourth quarter of their game against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena on March 9, 2016 in Sacramento, California. PHOTO | EZRA SHAW |  

By AFP
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LOS ANGELES

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City Thunder clinched NBA playoff berths on Friday as reigning champions Golden State continued to roll toward the post-season with a win at Dallas.

In Orlando, Kyrie Irving scored 26 points and added five assists to lead the Cavaliers to a 109-103 victory over the Magic.

Irving, who had 33 points Wednesday in a victory over Dallas, scored 10 points in the decisive fourth quarter as the Cavs overcame a big night from Magic guard Victor Oladipo.

Oladipo scored a career-high 45 points, but only six in the fourth period.

Cleveland superstar LeBron James, back after resting one game, had 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds as the Cavs improved their East-leading record to 49-19.

They made their playoff spot official, but coach Tyronn Lue said there was no time to celebrate.

"We thought we were going to make the playoffs, so it wasn't really a big deal to clinch," Lue said. "We have bigger things ahead of us."

WESTBROOK TRIPLE-DOUBLE

Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant again led the way for the Oklahoma City Thunder as the Northwest Division clinched a playoff berth with a 111-97 victory over the lowly 76ers in Philadelphia.

Westbrook delivered his league-leading 13th triple-double of the season with 20 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.

"I come out and compete every night at a high level and try to keep my energy up for my teammates," Westbrook said. "I think it's fun to see where we're playing the right way. It's fun for our guys to see everybody happy playing the right way."

Durant added 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, scoring at least 20 points for the 54th straight game.

Enes Kanter scored 16 points and Steven Adams had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder, who improved to 47-22.

They are third in the Western Conference behind the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs.

WARRIORS THUMP MAVS

The Warriors improved to 62-6 with a 130-112 triumph over the Dallas Mavericks.

The Warriors avenged one of their six defeats this season — a loss in Dallas on December 30 when reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry was sidelined with a minor injury.

This time Curry scored 31 points, Klay Thompson scored 39 and made 10 of 15 from three-point range as the Warriors warmed-up for their marquee matchup with the Spurs in San Antonio on Saturday.

The showdown between the two best in the West, neither of whom has lost at home yet this season, will see the Warriors without Australian big man Andrew Bogut.

He departed at halftime with a left big toe injury.

Coach Steve Kerr said Bogut wouldn't play on Saturday and in a nod to the fatigue his players are feeling added: "If I had any guts, I'd sit everybody."

Curry, however, said the Warriors would be ready to go in San Antonio.

"We'll be fine," he told ESPN. "They're playing really well right now and we have an opportunity to go in, and it's going to be a tough test for us."

There was unwelcome injury news for the New Orleans Pelicans in their 117-112 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Pelicans, ravaged by injuries this season, saw star forward Anthony Davis depart with a left knee injury late in the first half, after scoring 10 points.

C.J. McCollum scored 30, including a go-ahead three-pointer with a minute left, and Damian Lillard added 33 to lift the Trail Blazers, who led by as many as 20 points in the first half but came under pressure from a Pelicans team that got 30 points apiece from Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson.

Pelicans reserve center Kendrick Perkins was ejected with less than eight minutes to play for hooking his forearm around the neck of a driving Lillard, bringing him to the ground in a "clothesline" foul.

"It was a cheap play, but it didn't feel as bad as it might have looked," Lillard said.