Dallas booked its place in the NBA playoffs with a 101-98 come-from-behind home win over Phoenix on Saturday, with Monta Ellis matching his season high of 37 points.
On a day when the playoff picture became clearer, Atlanta sealed the final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference with a comfortable win over Miami, Houston maintained its hold on fourth in the West by beating New Orleans, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat Sacramento to equal a franchise record for wins in a season.
Dallas’ Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki — who scored 21 of his 23 points in the second-half rally — 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. Eric Bledsoe led Phoenix with 29 points.
Atlanta took the final playoff spot in the East — ahead of New York — by winning 98-85 at home against Miami.
Jeff Teague scored 25 points and Lou Williams had 18 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, including the Hawks’ last 12 points. LeBron James finished with 27 points for the two-time defending champion Heat, who have lost three of four and gave up the ground they gained in the standings by beating Indiana on Friday and taking a half a game lead over the chasing Pacers. Miami and Indiana are now tied atop the Eastern Conference.