Basketball

Spurs clinch playoffs, help Cavs along way

The San Antonio Spurs want to do everything they can to avoid facing the Los Angles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. They took a step forward Sundy by beating the defending NBA champions on their home court.

Manu Ginobili scored 32 points, Tim Duncan added 24 and the Spurs clinched their 13th consecutive playoff berth with a 100-81 win Sunday. They moved into the seventh spot in the West, a half-game ahead of idle Portland.

“They’re playoff-tested, so we want to stay away from them as long as possible,” Tim Duncan said of the Lakers.

The Lakers got a season-high 32 points from Pau Gasol and 22 from Kobe Bryant, but failed to clinch the No. 1 seed in the West and heard boos from their fans.

As a result, Cleveland earned home-court advantage through the NBA Finals despite a 117-113 loss at Boston earlier in the day.

“They controlled the tempo,” Bryant said. “We didn’t make shots. There were stretches with opportunities to get back in the ballgame and we just couldn’t put the ball in the hole.”

Richard Jefferson added 14 points and Duncan had 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who won their third straight and 15th of 20. They’ve notched recent wins over four of the NBA’s top teams: Cleveland, Boston, Orlando and now the Lakers.

“It was an unbelievable victory,” Ginobili said.”

Fastbreaks

Don Nelson tied Lenny Wilkens for the most wins by an NBA coach – 1,332 – when the Golden State Warriors held off the Toronto Raptors, 113-112. … Denver Nuggets coach George Karl may miss the first round of the playoffs as he recovers from treatments for throat and neck cancer. The former Seattle SuperSonics coach is set to have his final round of chemotherapy Wednesday. … Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut has a broken hand, dislocated elbow and sprained wrist that will keep him out indefinitely after a hard fall in Saturday night’s victory over Phoenix.

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