The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics took no chances with some key starters as the playoffs approach.
The Celtics played without Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo on Tuesday night when they beat the Miami Heat, 78-66. Boston coach Doc Rivers said Allen was out already with bone spurs, Rondo has a sore back, and Garnett's hip flexor has been bothering him.
The visiting Heat were without LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, who has a left hamstring strain.
The loss means Miami will not finish atop the Eastern Conference.
Hawks hold on for win
Joe Johnson scored 28 points, including a wild three-pointer in the final minute, and the Atlanta Hawks held on for a 109-102 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers, moving a step closer to wrapping up home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Blake Griffin scored a season-high 36 points, while Chris Paul added 34.
World Peace suspended
The NBA suspended Lakers forward Metta World Peace for seven games for throwing a vicious elbow at Oklahoma City's James Harden, meaning the Los Angeles starter likely will miss six playoff games.
World Peace was ejected from Sunday's game against the Thunder for striking Harden in the head, giving him a concussion. World Peace claimed the contact was an accidental, overzealous celebration of a dunk.
World Peace will miss the Lakers' season finale on Thursday and the next six games for which he is eligible.
Commissioner David Stern alluded to the former Ron Artest's history of on-court altercations in announcing the penalty in a statement.
The suspension is Artest's third career ban of at least seven games. He got an 86-game suspension in 2004 for jumping into the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills in the Detroit suburbs to fight fans, and he served a seven-game suspension in 2007 for his no-contest plea on a domestic-violence charge.
Harden still hasn't been cleared to return for the Thunder, who topped visiting Sacramento, 118-110, Tuesday.
- Associated Press