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C.J. McCollum scored 24 points to snatch the Portland Trail Blazers' qualifying for the Western Conference playoffs with an easy 132-116 victory over the Denver Nuggets last night.

Damian Lillard scored 22 points and assisted 10 assists, and Yusuf Nurkic added 20 points and captured 13 rebounds in the victory that spared Portland (42-30) a play-off to the playoffs and gave them sixth place in the West.

Despite the defeat, the Nuggets (47-25) finished third in the West after the Los Angeles Clippers lost 117-112 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, dropping to fourth place. Denver excels in direct confrontations with the Clippers.

The Nuggets and Trail Blazers will get to know each other better when they meet in the first round of the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Lakers finished seventh in the pre-season in the Western Conference with a 110-98 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans thanks to 25 points from LeBron James.

James left the field in the last quarter after feeling pain in his right ankle, which kept him out 26 games in the latter part of the season.

Anthony Davies scored 14 points and Andre Drummond 13 points and 13 rebounds to make the Lakers (42-30) their fifth win in a row.

But the victory was not enough for the defending champion to avoid a promotion play-off to the playoffs in the West after Portland's victory.

The top six teams qualify directly for the playoffs, while the seventh and eighth place winners in each division will play a playoff to determine the seventh-placed team.

The ninth and tenth teams play one match, and the winner of them meets the loser of the seventh and eighth match, and the winner gets the eighth place.


The Knicks take fourth place

R.J. Barrett scored 22 points as the New York Knicks completed their pre-season rally and clinch fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 96-92 victory over the Boston Celtics in the NBA last night.

The Knicks (41-31), who reached the playoffs for the first time since 2013, open their Eastern Conference quarter-finals at home next week when they face the fifth-placed Atlanta Hawks.

The Celtics (36-36) were already ranked seventh in the East and No. 1 in the playoffs to the playoffs. The Celtics, who need only one win to qualify for the playoffs, meet eighth-placed Washington Wizards, to whom Bradley Beal netted the lead with two minutes and 53 seconds left to beat the Charlotte Hornets 115-110.

Julius Randle added 21 points with the Knicks, who almost missed a 21-point lead in the third quarter. Alec Birx added 17 points during his participation as a substitute, and Reggie Bullock scored 16 points.

The Indiana Pacers will open their playoffs to the playoffs at home after a landslide 125-113 victory over the Toronto Raptors at the conclusion of the pre-season.

Canadian-born O'Shea Priest scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Domantas Sabonis scored 25 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to put the Pacers (34-38) to an end to two consecutive defeats and share eighth place in the East.

Stephen Curry scored 46 points en route to clinching the top scorer award in the NBA, and Jordan Bull halted the Memphis Grizzlies' late 3-0 lead during the Golden State Warriors' 113-101 win to clinch eighth in the playoffs when they play away to the Lakers on Wednesday.

The defeat ended Memphis' winning streak in five straight games and gave the Grizzlies (38-34) ninth place in the promotion round to the playoffs, where they host the 10th-placed Spurs.

The Utah Jazz finished the pre-season with the best results in the league after a 121-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings thanks to 33 points from Jordan Clarkson, including six triples, in addition to 18 points from Bojan Bogdanovic.

The Jazz (52-20) finished first in the Western Division and will have the advantage of playing at home throughout the playoffs after achieving the best results in the pre-season.

The Phoenix Suns, second in the West, beat the San Antonio Spurs 121-121 with 22 points from Etwan Moore, including a hat-trick with 2.2 seconds left.

The Philadelphia 76ers, the leaders in the Eastern Conference, beat the Orlando Magic 128-117 after resting all their key players after securing the lead, while the second-placed Brooklyn Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 123-109 with 23 points from Kevin Durant.

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