The Spurs stayed alive in the race with Chicago for the No. 1 overall record by beating Phoenix on Wednesday night, despite sending Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker home earlier in the day to rest. The Spurs will be without them Thursday at Golden State as well. Also missing: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who is tending to a personal matter.
The Clippers and Memphis will play in a 4-versus-5 matchup. If the Grizzlies beat Orlando on Thursday, they'll have home-court edge against the Clippers.
No. 2 Oklahoma City opens its postseason Saturday against Denver or Dallas. If the Nuggets beat Minnesota, that will pin the defending champion Mavericks to the No. 7 seed and a series with the Thunder.
So the Dallas-Atlanta game will be big on plenty of levels, since it may have implications for not only the Mavericks and Hawks, but the Celtics, Thunder, Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers as well.
Kobe Bryant's Lakers will be the No. 3 seed, and they'll face Denver if the Nuggets win or Mavericks lose.
—There's more on the docket than games with just playoff ramifications.
Charlotte is trying to avoid infamy.
Now losers of 22 straight after falling 102-95 at Orlando on Wednesday night, the Bobcats are 7-58 on the season. A victory over the Knicks on Thursday would lift their winning percentage for the season to .121 — still terrible, but good enough to avoid finishing behind the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers (9-73, .110) as the worst team in league history. Another loss, and the Bobcats' final percentage would be .106.
—Then there's the other races, of the individual variety.
Kevin Durant scored 32 points for Oklahoma City on Wednesday, ending his season at 28.03 points per game. If Bryant plays Thursday in the Lakers' finale, he would need 38 points to claim his third scoring crown. Otherwise, Durant wins his third straight title.
Most of the other stat races are wrapped up. Howard will be the league's leading rebounder for the fourth time in five years. Boston's Rajon Rondo will be tops in assists per game, and Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka will easily claim the blocks-per-game crown.
—Finally, farewell to the "New Jersey" Nets. They visit Toronto on Thursday, the franchise's last game before moving to Brooklyn next season.
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