MIAMI — For most of the season, the Miami Heat were chasing the Indiana Pacers.
On Friday, they just blew by them.
Control of the Eastern Conference again belongs to the Heat, after LeBron James scored 36 points and the two-time defending NBA champions opened the second half with a 16-0 run on the way to beating the Pacers 98-86 — a win that vaulted Miami a half-game ahead of Indiana in the race for a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
“This is not the biggest game we’ve played in our four years together,” James said. “It’s always great to have competitive games like this in the regular season. I mean, we’ve played Game 7 in the Finals before. It doesn’t get no bigger than that.”
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True, but this had plenty of meaning.
Miami (54-25) leads the Pacers (54-26) by the slimmest of margins in the East race. Paul George scored 22 for Indiana.
Former Hawks star Lou Hudson dies
Dominique Wilkins hopes young fans take the time to learn about Lou Hudson.
Wilkins says they’ll discover “Sweet Lou” was one of the best shooting guards in NBA history.
Hudson, the smooth-shooting Hawks star who averaged more than 20 points during 13 NBA seasons, died Friday. He was 69.
He died in Atlanta, where he was hospitalized and listed in grave condition last month after a stroke, the Hawks said.
Hudson was a six-time All-Star while with the Hawks in St. Louis and Atlanta, often playing away from the national spotlight.
“Young people today don’t know how good Lou Hudson really was,” said Wilkins, a Hall of Famer. “He was a hell of a player. The guy could score with the best in history. He was a phenomenal basketball player.”
• Corey Brewer scored a career-high 51 points and Gorgui Dieng hit a short jumper with 4.6 seconds to play to lift Minnesota to a 112-110 victory over visiting Houston. Brewer made 19 of 30 shots, easily surpassing his previous career high of 29 points.
• Danny Green had a career-high 33 points and San Antonio (62-18) rallied from a 21-point deficit to clinch the league’s best record with a 112-104 win over visiting Phoenix.
• Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, a former star at Rainier Beach High, is expected to play Saturday against Sacramento. Crawford has been sidelined the past five games with a strained left calf.
• Marc Gasol had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead host Memphis past Philadelphia 117-95. Former Husky Tony Wroten led the 76ers with 18 points.
• Former Kentwood product Rodney Stuckey scored 22 points but Detroit lost for the 18th time in 20 road games, 106-98, in Chicago.
• Avery Bradley, a product of Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, scored 22 and Boston held off Charlotte for a 106-103 win, snapping a nine-game losing streak.
• Stephen Curry had 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, and the visiting Golden State Warriors clinched a playoff berth with a 112-95 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.