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Uh oh, here come the Cavaliers . . .

Cleveland’s LeBron James shot over Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan in the first half.Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Once his layup dropped, LeBron James sent another message.

As Cleveland’s crowd cheered following his artistic shot, James walked within a few feet of Toronto’s bench, pounded his chest several times and screamed, ‘‘I’m still a problem!’’

The Raptors didn’t need any reminders.

James scored 27 points, the last coming on a sensational layup, and the Cavaliers continued to gain momentum with the playoffs quickly approaching by beating Toronto, 112-106, on Tuesday night.

James added nine rebounds and six assists as the Cavs posted their second win in two weeks over the Eastern Conference’s top team, whose lead over the second-place Celtics remains at two games. This time, the Cavaliers were much healthier than when they beat the Raptors on March 21 despite missing five rotational players and coach Tyronn Lue.


Jose Calderon added 19 points and Kevin Love 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Cavs, who are 9-1 since March 17 despite not having all their pieces.

James still isn’t sure what the postseason may bring for Cleveland, which has eliminated Toronto in each of the past two postseasons.

‘‘We don’t know what we can become,’’ James said. ‘‘We have no idea. But right now we’re playing good ball and we want to try to continue that. But we don’t know what we can become. We have not been whole all year.’’

DeMar DeRozan scored 19 and Jonas Valanciunas 17 for Toronto, which will host the Celtics on Wednesday. The Raptors didn’t quit and scored eight points in 34 seconds before the Cavs put it away with four free throws. Kyle Lowry scored only 5 on 2-of-11 shooting.

The Raptors are just 3-5 since winning 11 straight from Feb. 26-March 16.

The Cavaliers still aren’t at full strength. Starting point guard George Hill missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle and Lue was in attendance but only in an advisory role as he remains on medical leave.


Rockets 120, Wizards 104 — James Harden grinned as he jogged past courtside fan and Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon after one of his improbable buckets against visiting Washington.

‘‘He said, ‘It looked too easy,’ ’’ Harden said. ‘‘I’m sure he probably felt that same way when he was playing.’’

Harden had 38 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists, leading the Houston Rockets to a victory over the Wizards.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks said before the game that Harden, whom he coached for three years in Oklahoma City, is deserving of the league’s MVP award this season. Harden then showed again, narrowly missing his fifth triple-double of the season.

‘‘It was a great player playing special,’’ Brooks said. ‘‘He had everything going. We tried switching, we tried trapping. We tried everything on him.’’

With the Toyota Center crowd chanting ‘‘MVP! MVP!’’ late in the fourth quarter, Harden put on a show on three straight possessions. He drained two deep step-back jumpers and was fouled on a reverse layup that he kissed off the glass and in for a three-point play.

At 63-15, the Rockets already clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs but weren’t interested in losing any momentum against Washington.

Houston led by as many as 24 points, was ahead, 71-49, lead at the half and entered the fourth up, 95-75.

Clint Capela had 21 points and 10 rebounds for Houston, while Gerald Green had 16 points off the bench on 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc and one authoritative two-handed slam in the fourth.


Green, who was signed to a non-guaranteed contract in late December, has suddenly emerged as a key reserve off the bench for the already deep Rockets.

‘‘I didn’t envision it because he was lying on his couch,’’ Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. ‘‘Obviously, he’s earned a lot of trust from everybody. He’s a heck of a good player. We got lucky with him, very lucky.’’

Bradley Beal led Washington with 27 points, while Markieff Morris had 14 and Otto Porter, Jr. added 12.

‘‘It’s tough, but that is an elite ballclub over there, and I respect what they do and how they play the game,’’ Beal said. ‘‘They beat us. That’s what they’re capable of doing on a nightly basis. We kind of took this one on the chin.’’

In just his second game back following knee surgery in January, John Wall had 9 points and 10 assists in 33 minutes, shooting 3 for 10 from the floor. After helping the Wizards clinch a playoff berth in his first game back in two months on Saturday, Wall sat out Sunday’s loss at Chicago.

Brooks said he encouraged Wall to continue pushing the tempo and working to get back in game shape.

The Wizards fell to 20-19 on the road this season after their fourth straight road loss. They’ve lost by an average of 13.5 points in that skid.


Washington fell into a tie with Milwaukee for seventh place in the East.

‘‘No matter who we play, we have to go out there and compete,’’ Wall said. ‘‘It doesn’t matter in the fifth seed, sixth seed, fourth seed, seventh, eighth seed — every matchup is going to be tough. No playoff game is going to be easy and every guy in here understands that.’’

Warriors 111, Thunder 107 — The standings indicated Golden State had nothing to play for Tuesday night.

The Warriors’ effort and performance said otherwise.

Kevin Durant scored 34 points while being booed throughout the game, leading Golden State to a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Warriors entered the night locked into the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference standings, but they still wanted to beat a rival that had taken two of the first three meetings this season. Golden State won despite guard Stephen Curry missing his sixth straight game with a left MCL sprain. Guard Andre Iguodala missed the game with left knee soreness and Shaun Livingston was out for personal reasons.

‘‘It was a great win, shorthanded and on the road against a good team fighting for playoff position,’’ Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. ‘‘It’s a hell of a win, especially without all our guards.’’

Russell Westbrook had 44 points and 16 rebounds. He made 15 of 26 field goals and 11 of 12 free throws and had six assists. The Thunder were disappointed that they couldn’t support Westbrook’s dynamic performance.


‘‘He was great,’’ said Paul George, who scored 20 points. ‘‘He was great. He took it to another level — a level that those guys didn’t have an answer for. Again, it’s frustrating when we see that, we notice that and we can’t help him by making shots and putting the ball in the basket.’’

Klay Thompson scored 20 points for the Warriors and the bench scored 38 points on 18-for-26 shooting. They helped make up for Durant’s 2-for-13 shooting in the second half.

Oklahoma City fell to sixth in the Western Conference standings.

‘‘We’re not worried about that,’’ Westbrook said. ‘‘We’re just going to take one game at a time. We’ll be here in the postseason, ready to go.’’

Suns 97, Kings 94 —On track to finish with their worst record since their inaugural season 50 years ago, the Phoenix Suns finally closed out an opponent and won again.

Josh Jackson scored 18 of his 28 points in the first half and the Suns ended a franchise-record, 15-game losing streak with a 97-94 victory over the visiting Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

‘‘It was a win that we really, really wanted,’’ Jackson said.

Alex Len added 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Tyler Ulis had 13 points and nine assists as the Suns held the cold-shooting Kings to 37 percent shooting.

The Kings trailed by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter but had a chance to tie after forcing a turnover with seven seconds remaining. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Justin Jackson missed potential game-tying 3-pointers before the final buzzer.

‘‘It was scary. I don’t really know how they got that open,’’ Josh Jackson said. ‘‘We didn’t execute the game plan as well as we should have but lucky they didn’t make the shot.’’

Bogdanovic led the Kings with 22 points and Jackson added 19 points and eight rebounds. Sacramento has lost five of six.

The Suns have the NBA’s worst record at 20-59 and will finish with the second-lowest win total in 50 years of existence unless they win all three remaining games.

76ers 121, Nets 95 — The focused 76ers have their eyes and hearts set on home-court advantage in the playoffs.

J.J. Redick scored 19 points and Ben Simmons had 15 points and 12 rebounds to lead Philadelphia to its 11th straight victory over the visiting Nets. That kept the 76ers in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with five games remaining.

‘‘We don’t hide from our goal,’’ Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. ‘‘We want home court.’’

If the playoffs started on Wednesday, the 76ers would host a first-round series. They remained a half-game behind third-place Cleveland and in front of fifth-place Indiana, which began Tuesday a half-game behind Philadelphia. The 76ers have five games remaining, including Friday’s home contest against the Cavaliers.

Redick said that goal helped Philadelphia easily dispatch the Nets, who merely are playing out the string.

‘‘It’s tough when you’re not playing for anything,’’ Redick said. ‘‘We have to take advantage of teams that aren’t playing for anything. We really imposed our will defensively and the force we played with offensively.’’

Neither Simmons nor Redick played in the fourth quarter for Philadelphia, which won its third consecutive contest without All-Star center Joel Embiid. Embiid had surgery on Saturday after suffering an orbital fracture in his left eye in Wednesday’s 118-101 win over the Knicks. Embiid will be out for the remainder of the regular season and is slated to return for the playoffs, although his exact return date is not known.

Marco Belinelli added 17 points for the 76ers (47-30), who also didn’t have starter Dario Saric (cellulitis right elbow).

Heat 101, Hawks 98 — There was no raucous celebration. The Miami Heat hope one of those comes later this spring. For now, briefly enjoying a clincher is enough.

Goran Dragic had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Josh Richardson blocked a potential go-ahead shot in the final moments, and the Heat closed on an 11-0 run to beat the visiting Atlanta Hawks. The win assured Miami of its 20th playoff berth in 30 seasons, and meant an often-lackluster night ended happily.

‘‘There’s only one way with this group,’’ a relieved Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ‘‘And it’s the hard way.’’

Last year, 41 wins meant the Heat finished one game out of the postseason — while Dwyane Wade and Chicago got the last spot.

This year, the 42nd win meant the Heat are playoff-bound, and Wade is already telling teammates of what that means in Miami.

‘‘The energy in this building is amazing,’’ Wade said. ‘‘A lot of people around the NBA have tried to copy our vibe that we set in this building. It’s flattering. Our fans take a lot of flak from the outside about being late and all these things, but when our fans are in this building it’s still one of the loudest places to play in and you feed off of it.’’

They won’t start at home; Miami will open on the road either April 14 or 15.

Hassan Whiteside’s tip-in with a minute left put Miami up for good, part of an 18-point, 12-rebound night in his first game since angrily saying he wanted more playing time. Tyler Johnson scored 12, Wade had 11 and James Johnson finished with 10 for the Heat.

‘‘Happy we got it clinched,’’ Whiteside said.

John Collins had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who got 18 points from Tyler Dorsey and 16 from Damion Lee. Isaiah Taylor added 15 and Mike Muscala scored 13 for Atlanta.