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Memphis Grabs Last Playoff Spot, Houston Earns Home-Court Advantage

With two games remaining on their regular season schedule, the Memphis Grizzlies (49-32) extended their win streak to four amid 19 turnovers and captured the West’s final playoff spot on Monday. This came from a 97-91 win over the Phoenix Suns (47-34).

But it didn’t come easily as there were 22 lead changes in the second half with 15 coming in the fourth quarter alone. With 1:27 remaining, Memphis was down 91-90 but then scored the final seven points of the game thanks to great play by Mike Conley and Zach Randolph.

For the night, Randolph scored a season-high 32 points (15 for 25) and nine rebounds. Mike Miller contributed 21 points while Marc Gasol added 17; Conley scored 13 points.

Zach Randolph

Zach Randolph

On Wednesday, Memphis will play the Dallas Mavericks to wrap up the season but rewind to Dec. 18 when these two teams met. The Grizzlies sat at 10-15 after a 105-91 loss and then fought hard in the last few months to get where they are today. Conley said of Monday’s game via the Associated Press, “We’ve needed every game basically since February it seems like. We’ve played every game like a playoff game. It’s been fun to be part of a group that comes in and stays focused and to get back in the playoffs. It’s huge from where we started off this season.”

Sure, they’ve sealed their fourth straight playoff visit but with a win over Dallas, they can grab a coveted seventh seed. From this, they’ll likely play against the No. 2 seed Oklahoma City Thunder as opposed to the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs.

The Grizzlies sit at 40/1 to win the 2014 Western Conference and 85/1 to win the 2014 NBA Championship.

As for the Suns, their playoff hopes have ended and they’ll now sit as the only fifth team in league history to have a 47-game win season and not head to the playoffs. For Monday’s game, Markieff Morris led in scoring with 21 points, followed by Channing Frye and Goran Dragic adding 14 apiece.

On Wednesday, Phoenix will play the Sacramento Kings (28-53).

In other Southwest division news, the Houston Rockets (54-27) defeated the Spurs (62-19), 104-98, and grabbed home-court advantage for round one of the playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers.

With a loss, the team would have needed either a win on Wednesday or Portland loss to clinch it.

Instead, the win came as the Rockets took a 100-94 lead with under a minute remaining and then kept it for the win. For the season, Houston won all four games in this All-Texas series.

Chandler Parsons

Chandler Parsons

Chandler Parsons led in scoring for the Rockets with 21 points followed by Dwight Howard (17 rebounds) and Terrence Jones (11 rebounds) who each added 20 points. James Harden contributed 16 points and seven assists.

Rockets coach Kevin McHale said of the win via the Associated Press, “We fought hard for it. It took a little longer than I hoped, but we knew we had to get 54 wins and we got there with one to spare. I’m glad we didn’t have to wait until Wednesday to try and get it.”

Their Wednesday game is against the New Orleans Pelicans. On Monday, they defeated the Thunder 101-89, who needed the win to clinch the second seed.

Houston sits at 12/1 to win the Western Conference and 30/1 to win it all.

For the Spurs, they rested many of their starters but Marco Belinelli’s 17 points led in scoring while Tim Duncan added 12 points in his under 30 minutes of play. Tony Parker and Manu Ginboli added 10 points apiece as they looked ahead to the playoffs with their top spot for the Western Conference already in the books.

On Wednesday, the Spurs will end their regular season by hosting the Los Angeles Lakers. Looking ahead, they have 7/5 odds to win the Western Conference and 3/1 to win the championship.



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