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Grizzlies Clinch Worst Record in NBA

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No more need for talk about tanking. Nobody can catch Memphis for the best shot at the No. 1 pick.

And the Washington Wizards are going to the playoffs _ even if they are losing almost as often as the hapless Grizzlies these days.

The Wizards clinched their third straight playoff berth Tuesday night, though it came despite a loss. Washington fell 96-92 to New Jersey, but was guaranteed a spot in the postseason after Indiana lost to Philadelphia.

Washington hardly looks like a playoff team since All-Stars Gilbert Arenas (knee) and Caron Butler (hand) went down. The Wizards have lost five straight _ the Grizzlies' six-game skid is the only longer one in the NBA right now.

``I always say that in December and January, when we were going pretty darn good, that I always felt like I'm walking on the edge of a cliff and about to fall off,'' Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. ``I've been feeling that way a whole lot lately.''

The Grizzlies (19-60) finally have something to show for their losing. A 112-100 home loss to Sacramento means they will have the best chance of winning next month's lottery for a draft that will now include Texas freshman Kevin Durant.

This draft is considered so strong that teams have been accused of losing on purpose to get a better pick. But Memphis didn't feel like celebrating _ even if this loss could lead to a win.

``In three games, the season's over with, and that's how I look at it,'' guard Chucky Atkins said.

In other games, it was: Atlanta 104, Boston 96; Philadelphia 90, Indiana 86; Charlotte 92, Miami 82; New Orleans 103, the Los Angeles Clippers 100 in overtime; and Chicago 98, New York 69.

The Grizzlies have rarely looked as bad as they did Tuesday. They surrendered a 25-0 run _ second-longest in the NBA this season _ while falling behind by 26. Only Miami did better, scoring 27 consecutive points against the Knicks on Jan. 22.

``I've never been a part of something like that,'' Kings forward Ron Artest said. ``That was fun to be a part of. I didn't even score a bucket in that, and I was having fun.''

At Washington, the Nets closed within two games of the Wizards for the No. 6 seed. Richard Jefferson finished with a season-high 35 points, Vince Carter had 31, and Jason Kidd finished with four points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists for the Nets, who made 25 of 29 free throws.

``We understand what it takes to win in the playoffs. We've been there,'' Carter said. ``The three of us have to lead our team. We're two games away and we just have to get those two games. That's how I see it.''

Bobcats 92, Heat 82

Gerald Wallace had 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead host Charlotte to its second win in three days over injury-plagued and turmoil-filled Miami.

It was another damaging loss for the Heat, who dropped three games behind idle Toronto with four games left in the race for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Dwyane Wade, in his second game back after missing six weeks with a separated shoulder, scored 14 points for Miami.

Hornets 103, Clippers 100, OT

At Oklahoma City, David West scored a season-high 33 points, including three straight baskets in overtime, to lead New Orleans.

The Hornets moved within one game of Golden State for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. The Clippers are in ninth place, a half-game behind the Warriors and the same margin ahead of the Hornets. New Orleans closes its season at the Clippers on April 18.

Elton Brand tied his season high with 37 points, Corey Maggette had 24 points and Chris Kaman added 10 points and 13 rebounds for Los Angeles, which has lost three straight.

Bulls 98, Knicks 69

Ben Gordon scored 23 points, and Chicago secured home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs by handing visiting New York its most lopsided loss of the season.

Second in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls lead fifth-place Cleveland by a half-game and Atlantic Division winner Toronto by 1 1/2. Chicago owns the tiebreaker over both teams.

Nate Robinson scored 24 points for New York, which lost for the sixth time in seven games. Former Bull Eddy Curry committed two offensive fouls in the opening 1:44 and finished with just four points and seven rebounds.

76ers 90, Pacers 86

At Philadelphia, Andre Miller had 19 points and 11 assists, and the short-handed 76ers dealt Indiana a huge blow to its playoff hopes.

Jermaine O'Neal, playing with a sore left knee and ankle, missed his first seven shots and finished with 21 points on a woeful 7-for-22 shooting. Indiana fell two games behind Orlando for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race and has five games left, including Wednesday night at Milwaukee.

Hawks 104, Celtics 96

At Atlanta, Tyronn Lue scored 26 points with 10 assists, and Zaza Pachulia had 22 points and 12 rebounds.

Gerald Green scored a career-high 33 points for Boston, which has lost six straight on the road and 18 of 20. Overall, the Celtics have a four-game losing streak.
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