NBA: Monta Ellis matched his season high with 36 points and Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 of his 23 during a second-half rally that carried the Dallas Mavericks back to the playoffs in a 101-98 victory against the visiting Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.
Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki brought the Mavericks back by hitting five 3-pointers between them in less than 4 minutes of the third quarter, erasing most of a 13-point deficit. Then they teamed to get the lead back in the fourth, and Dallas held on in the final minutes.
The Mavericks left the Suns and Memphis to battle for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Dallas is back in the postseason after a 12-year playoff streak ended last season.
• Hawks clinch East’s last playoff spot: Jeff Teague scored 25 points, Lou Williams had 18 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and the Atlanta Hawks earned the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot with a 98-85 victory over the visiting Miami Heat.
Atlanta’s third straight victory eliminated the New York Knicks from playoff contention.
Williams scored the Hawks’ last 12 points.
• Wizards top Bucks, close in on sixth seed: Bradley Beal scored 26 points, and the Washington Wizards moved a step closer to claiming the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 104-91 win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks
Washington leads the seventh-place Charlotte Bobcats, who beat the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, by one game with two to play. The Bobcats hold the tiebreaker if Washington and Charlotte finish tied.
• Clippers beat Kings for 56th win: Blake Griffin scored 27 points, DeAndre Jordan added 21, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the visiting Sacramento Kings 117-101 to earn their franchise record-tying 56th victory of the regular season.
Chris Paul added 17 points and 10 assists, J.J. Redick had 13 points, and Matt Barnes scored 12 in helping the playoff-bound Clippers improve to 33-7 at Staples Center, breaking the franchise record for home victories in a season.
• Harden leads Rockets over Pelicans: James Harden had 33 points and 13 assists and the Houston Rockets rallied for a 111-104 win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans to maintain their spot in the Western Conference standings with the postseason just days away.
The Rockets had lost two in a row and needed the win to stay ahead of Portland in fourth place in the West.
Bruins secure Presidents’ Trophy
NHL: The Boston Bruins clinched the NHL’s best record and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs with a 4-1 win at home over the league-worst Buffalo Sabres.
It is the first time the Bruins have claimed the Presidents’ Trophy since the 1989-90 season.
David Krejci scored two goals, Patrice Bergeron netted his 30th of the season, one fewer than his career high set in 2005-06, and Gregory Campbell got his eighth.
• Gionta’s OT goal helps Canadiens beat Rangers: Brian Gionta scored on a penalty shot at 2:04 of overtime to give the host Montreal Canadiens a 1-0 victory over the New York Rangers in the final NHL regular-season game for both teams.
Gionta was awarded the shot after he poked the puck away from Raphael Diaz and then was tripped by the defenseman on a breakaway. He deked to the backhand to beat Cam Talbot on the shot.
• Predators rally past Blackhawks: Patric Hornqvist scored the go-ahead goal with 58.2 seconds left and Shea Weber added an empty-netter as the Nashville Predators rallied with five goals in the third period to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 7-5 in their home finale at Nashville, Tenn.
The teams combined to score seven goals in a wild and furious final period. Chicago was up 3-2 going into the third, and Nashville finally put the Blackhawks away with the two goals inside the final minute.
• Pavelski sparks Sharks past Coyotes: Joe Pavelski had two goals to become the fourth player in team history with 40 goals in a season and the visiting San Jose Sharks closed out the regular season with a 3-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.
Pavelski scored his 40th goal on a power play early in the first period and added No. 41 midway through to join Owen Nolan, Jonathan Cheechoo and Patrick Marleau in San Jose’s 40-goal club.
• Lightning’s Malone arrested: Tampa police say Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone has been charged with DUI and possession of cocaine.
Lusczynski says Malone refused to take field sobriety tests, but a breath test given at the jail recorded blood alcohol levels of 0.112 and 0.116 percent. According to a police report, the officer also found 1.3 grams of cocaine in one of Malone’s pockets.
• Canadiens sign Tokarski to extension: The Montreal Canadiens signed former Spokane Chiefs goalie Dustin Tokarski to a two-year contract extension. The 24-year-old Tokarski is 2-0 with one shutout, a .946 save percentage and 1.84 goals-against average in three games this season with the Canadiens.
All-Spanish Clay Court final set
MISCELLANY: Nicolas Almagro and Fernando Verdasco set up an all-Spanish final in tennis’ U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship.
The fourth-seeded Verdasco beat Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo 6-4, 7-5 in Houston, and the third-seeded Almagro advanced when American Sam Querrey pulled out because of a back injury.
• Ware will transfer to Georgia State: The stepfather of former Louisville guard Kevin Ware said the basketball player is transferring to Georgia State.
Wes Junior said that the 6-foot-2 junior orally committed to the school after visiting the Atlanta campus. Ware announced last month that he would leave the Cardinals to be closer to family in the area.
• MLS commissioner being treated for prostate cancer: Major League Soccer says that Commissioner Don Garber is being treated for prostate cancer, and doctors expect he will make a full recovery.
The 56-year-old Garber has undergone a series of comprehensive tests, and the cancer hasn’t spread, MLS said Saturday. Garber will undergo surgery following treatment.
• Contador prevails at Tour of Basque: Alberto Contador won the Tour of Basque Country for a third time, confirming the Spaniard’s strong return to form with his second title of the year.
The Tinkoff-Saxo cyclist defended the lead he established on the opening day during the race’s sixth and final stage, an individual time trial in which he finished second behind winner Tony Martin.
• Horner remains hospitalized after accident: Spanish Vuelta champion Christopher Horner will remain in the hospital until next week at least following Friday’s training accident in northern Italy.
Horner has been moved to the chest surgery department where he is undergoing drainage on a punctured lung.
The 42-year-old American cyclist also has four broken ribs and cuts on his head.