JR SMITH scored 21 points, including a rally-stopping jumper with 31 seconds left, and the New York Knicks held on to beat the visiting Los Angeles Clippers, 99-93, on Wednesday night and close in on the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Carmelo Anthony scored 17 points for the Knicks, but he was on the bench in the final minutes as the Knicks blew nearly all of an 18-point lead against a Clippers team that was fighting desperately for homecourt advantage in the first round.
The Knicks will draw Miami in the first round with one more win or a loss by the Sixers, who have clinched at least the eighth seed. New York closes its season Thursday at Charlotte, which has one of the worst records in NBA history, while the 76ers visit Detroit.
If New York loses and the Sixers win, the Knicks would fall to the No. 8 seed and open against Chicago.
Blake Griffin had 29 points and 10 rebounds, and Randy Foye scored 28 points for the Clippers, who played without Chris Paul and fell a half-game behind Memphis for fourth place in the West. The Clippers need the Grizzlies to lose at home to Orlando on Thursday to have the homecourt advantage for their first-round series.
Paul sat out after mildly straining his left groin in Tuesday's 109-102 loss at Atlanta. The Clippers dropped three of their final four games, costing themselves any chance to beat out the Lakers for the Pacific Division title and perhaps a chance to open the playoffs at home.
But they wrapped up their first season with Paul at 40-26 and will make their first postseason appearance since 2006 and just their fifth since 1985.
The Knicks lost their slim chance of earning the No. 6 seed and avoiding the Bulls or Heat when Orlando beat Charlotte earlier Wednesday.
In other games *
At Orlando, J.J. Redick had six three-pointers and scored a career-high 31 points as the Magic held off Charlotte, 102-95, the Bobcats' 22nd consecutive loss.
The Magic snapped a three-game losing streak and secured the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference but lost forward Glen Davis to a sprained right ankle.
Should the Bobcats lose their finale against the Knicks, their 7-59 record and .106 winning percentage would eclipse the 1972-73 76ers and their mark at .110, when they went 9-73.
* At Cleveland, John Wall had 21 points and 13 assists as the Washington Wizards won their fifth straight to extend their longest winning streak since 2007, beating the Cavaliers, 96-85.
* At Indianapolis, Kyle Korver scored 20 points to help the Chicago Bulls defeat the Indiana Pacers, 92-87, and inch closer to claiming the top overall seed in the NBA playoffs. The Bulls ended the game needing just a win over Cleveland on Thursday or a loss by the San Antonio Spurs to clinch the top seed.
* At Oklahoma City, Ty Lawson scored 25 points, Kenneth Faried added 13 points and 10 rebounds, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Thunder, 106-101, to ensure they won't be the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Kevin Durant scored 32 points to extend his lead in the NBA scoring race, leaving Kobe Bryant in need of 38 points in his season finale Thursday against Sacramento to claim his third scoring title and prevent Durant from becoming the seventh player to win three in a row.
Commissioner David Stern said the elbow that Metta World Peace used to give Oklahoma City's James Harden a concussion was "recklessly thrown" and the Los Angeles Lakers forward's history absolutely weighed into the seven-game suspension that could force him out of the entire first round of the playoffs.