The San Antonio Spurs clinched the No. 1 playoff seed in the Western Conference by beating the Portland Trail Blazers 124-89.
SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs have locked up another No. 1 seed for the Western Conference playoffs.
The next step is to avoid another early exit.
Tim Duncan scored 18 points in what might have been his last game before the playoffs start this weekend, as the Spurs clinched the top spot in the West by beating the Portland Trail Blazers 124-89 Monday night.
The Spurs won their eighth game in a row but won’t care about the streak with two virtually meaningless regular-season games left. All that will matter is their Big Three reaching the postseason fully healthy for the first time since 2008, and that likely means an easy week ahead for Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
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“It’s great to be in that situation, but as we showed last year, someone can sneak up and take you out easily,” Duncan said. “Hopefully we get a much better effort this year and do a much better job this year, and we stay away from those injuries.”
After cruising to the No. 1 spot last season against most expectations, the Spurs bowed out as the fourth top seed to lose in the first round when Memphis beat them.
This latest No. 1 seed — the sixth in the Duncan era — is somehow more surprising. Two days before Duncan turns 36, the Spurs made sure they couldn’t be caught by the young Oklahoma City Thunder.
Wesley Matthews scored 24 points for the Blazers, who lost their sixth straight and have one game left in a tumultuous season in which the franchise effectively hit the reset button. Portland failed to make the playoffs.
East playoff berth
NEWARK, N.J. — Philadelphia wrapped up an East playoff berth and spoiled what is expected to be the Nets’ final game in New Jersey with a 105-87 victory.
Thaddeus Young scored all 15 of his points in the second half to help the 76ers make the postseason for the second consecutive season and eliminate Milwaukee from playoff contention.
Philadelphia (34-30) is tied with New York for the No. 7 East seed with two regular-season games left; the top eight in each conference make the playoffs.
MarShon Brooks had 18 points to lead the Nets, who are scheduled to move into a new arena in Brooklyn next season.
Gov. Chris Christie sounded less than devastated about losing the Nets, who have played in New Jersey since 1977.
“My message to them is, goodbye,” Christie said. “You don’t want to stay, we don’t want you.”
In case that wasn’t clear, Christie added this farewell to the franchise: “Good riddance. See you later.”
• Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles on missing the playoffs: “I’m very disappointed. We didn’t get done what we were expected to get done. If everybody in there (the locker room) is not very, very disappointed, then we’ve got big problems.”
• John Wall collected 16 points and 14 assists to help host Washington crush the Charlotte Bobcats 101-73.
Charlotte has lost 21 in a row. If the Bobcats (7-57) lose their last two games, they will finish with the worst winning percentage in league history.
“We don’t want to be the worst team in NBA history,” Charlotte guard D.J. Augustin said.
The Bobcats, coached by ex-Sonics forward Paul Silas, haven’t won since March 17.
“It’s been very, very hard for me because I’ve never been through this before,” Silas said before the game. “The losing part kind of eats you up. I can’t sleep at night, wondering what we can do to change this thing around. I have to understand who we have, a lot of young people.”
• Marreese Speights had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Marc Gasol also scored 17 points as Memphis beat visiting Cleveland 109-101 for its fifth straight victory.