Advantage, Boston Celtics.
They gained a one-game advantage over Indiana in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference on Thursday night. While the Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 106-104, the Pacers dropped a 104-93 decision to the Atlanta Hawks, and as a result, Boston moved into sole possession of eighth place in the conference.
Boston, looking for its first postseason berth since 1995, travels to Indiana for a pivotal game tonight. A Boston victory would give the Celtics a two-game lead over Indiana, which plays conference-leading Philadelphia on Sunday.
"The biggest part of the season is coming up," Boston's Antoine Walker said. "This is what we live for.
"Having an opportunity with 12 games left, to fight for a playoff spot, is unbelievable. I've tried my whole career to make the playoffs. You have to be focused, but it's a good time right now."
The Pacers might have a different opinion after stumbling against the Hawks, a team that had lost four straight and 16 of their past 19.
We had to play catch-up," Indiana's Reggie Miller said. "We usually have the other teams playing catch-up.
"In a high intensity game like this, you have to be able to seize the moment. We didn't do that."
On Thursday, the Celtics again relied on the scoring of Walker and Paul Pierce.
Walker had 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, his fourth triple-double of the season and ninth of his career. Pierce scored 24 points as the Celtics won their fourth straight.
Indiana will go into its game against Boston on the heels of a lackluster second-half performance against the Hawks. Atlanta shot 4-for-5 from 3-point range and 12-for-23 overall in the fourth quarter.
"We went with our veterans down the stretch," Indiana coach Isiah Thomas said. "We just didn't get it done after the five-minute mark."
GRIZZLIES 89, KNICKS 68: Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 30 points as host Vancouver snapped a nine-game losing streak.
Mike Bibby had 16 points and eight assists for Vancouver, which snapped a seven-game losing streak against the New York and beat the Knicks for the first time since its inaugural season in 1995-96. Bryant Reeves added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
SUNS 90, ROCKETS 85: Jason Kidd scored a career-high 43 points, including 16 of Phoenix's last 17 points, as the visiting Suns won their sixth straight and beat Houston for the 13th time in 18 games.
Kidd shot 16-for-34 from the field and 6-for-8 from the line, beating his previous high of 38 points scored against the Rockets on April 11, 1995, when he was a rookie with the Dallas Mavericks.
WIZARDS 116, WARRIORS 100: Richard Hamilton scored a career-high 41 points as Washington handled Golden State its seventh straight road loss.
Hamilton hit a career-high 17 field goals on 25 attempts and added career bests of nine rebounds and eight assists. He became the first Wizards player to score 40 points in two games in a season since Juwan Howard in 1996.
BUCKS 104, HEAT 96: Glenn Robinson scored 27 points, and three reserves combined for 40 as Milwaukee outscored visiting Miami 12-4 in the final 2:42.
Sam Cassell and Lindsay Hunter each scored 17 points for the Bucks. Tim Thomas added 14 and Ray Allen 13.