It looks like the Los Angeles Lakers are going to win the Pacific Division. All they need to do is defeat the Denver Nuggets in their season finale.
After a dysfunctional season that featured the Shaq-Kobe feud, the travails of Isaiah Rider and a series of other minor maladies, the Lakers took over first place in the Pacific on Sunday.
Their 105-100 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, combined with Sacramento's 88-86 loss at Phoenix, gave the Lakers a half-game lead over the Kings in the Pacific.
Because the Lakers own the tiebreaker over Sacramento, all they need is one more victory to wrap up the No. 2 seed in the West. They play Denver on Tuesday night.
Shaquille O'Neal had 33 points and 18 rebounds and Robert Horry made a crucial 3-pointer with 1:05 remaining as the Lakers scored the final six points.
"We took care of the ball. We were able to make some stops and we did some things that were important down at the end," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
"It was a typical game that these two teams have played over the last however many years," Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy said.
The Blazers looked particularly shaky in the final minute, allowing the Lakers to run several seconds off the clock before deciding to foul. After getting the ball back with 19 seconds left, Portland couldn't even get a shot off.
"We played all right. We have to play better, especially down the stretch," said Portland's Scottie Pippen, who was held to nine points.
Kobe Bryant added 25 points and seven assists, and Derek Fisher scored 21 points for the Lakers (55-26), who extended their winning streak to a season-high seven games.
SUNS 88, KINGS 86: At Phoenix, Shawn Marion had 16 points and tied his career high with 19 rebounds as the Suns knocked the Kings out of first place.
"Whatever the Lakers did, we had to win and we didn't do it," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "Now they've got destiny in their hands."
Jason Kidd added 20 points and 14 assists and Rodney Rogers scored 20 as the Suns climbed a half-game ahead of Portland into sixth place in the Western Conference playoff race.
Cliff Robinson scored 17 for the Suns in what might have been a preview of a first-round playoff matchup.
Chris Webber scored 22, but none in the fourth quarter. He missed all three of his fourth-quarter shots, including a short hook in traffic that would have tied the game with less than a second to play.
76ERS 89, KNICKS 82: At Philadelphia, Allen Iverson scored 27 points and Dikembe Mutombo added eight points and 16 rebounds as the Sixers snapped a two-game skid and defeated a playoff-bound team for just the fourth time in 13 games.
"It was important, because you want to make a statement heading into the playoffs," said forward Tyrone Hill. "You don't want teams to think they can come in your house and have an easy time."
Latrell Sprewell had 26 points and Othella Harrington added 14 points and eight rebounds for New York.
"It was a statement game for us," Sprewell said. "Even though we didn't win, I think it showed it will be a battle if we face them in the playoffs."
MAGIC 90, HEAT 73: At Miami, Tracy McGrady scored 24 points and the Magic avenged two earlier lopsided losses to their intrastate rivals.
Miami turned in a slipshod performance without point guard Tim Hardaway, who went on the injured list before the game with a bruised left foot.
The Magic clinched at least the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
MAVERICKS 107, SUPERSONICS 99 (OT): At Seattle, Gary Payton hit three free throws with 2.9 seconds left to send the game to overtime. But Dirk Nowitzki hit a fast-break dunk for a six-point lead with 44 seconds left in overtime and Michael Finley hit two foul shots with 33 seconds left for the final margin.
Finley finished with 26 points for Dallas, while Nowitzki had 22 points and 15 boards.
PACERS 93, BULLS 86: At Chicago, Zan Tabak scored a season-high 16 points and the Pacers won their seventh straight. Jalen Rose added 10 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, narrowly missing his first career triple-double.
HORNETS 99, PISTONS 90: At Auburn Hills, Mich, Jamal Mashburn scored 20 points, David Wesley added 17, reserve Eddie Robinson scored 14, while P.J. Brown and Baron Davis added 13 each. The Hornets are a game behind Toronto for the fifth seed in the playoffs and one game ahead of Orlando.
CELTICS 95, NETS 88: At Boston, Walter McCarty, making just his second start of the season, scored 27 points. Antoine Walker scored 22 points and had 12 assists, and Paul Pierce added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Celtics, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
CAVALIERS 106, WIZARDS 98: At Washington, Andre Miller scored 10 of his 20 points in the decisive third quarter and Robert Traylor tied a career-high 17 points. The Cavs have won two straight road games after losing a season-high 12 in a row on the road.