NBA Roundup: Golden Opportunity

Notes on Monday's games in the National Basketball Association ...

Honk If You Like The Warriors' Playoff Chances. It's a rivarly as old as the sport of basketball itself: Golden State vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. And this time, it's personal. Actually none of that is true. Sorry. We're just a bit disoriented over the prospect of the Warriors in the playoffs, which now actually might happen. With four games left in the regular season, Golden State inched ahead of the Clippers for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference, after a 126-102 win over the Jazz on Monday. Stephen Jackson had 28 points for the Warriors (38-40), whose eighth victory in nine home games put them ahead of the Clippers (37-39). For the math inclined, Golden State has a .4872 winning percentage to .4868 for LA. The last time the Warriors were in the playoffs was in 1994. And if you think the Warriors-Clippers traffic jam at the bottom of the playoff standings is bad, how about traffic outside the Oracle Arena on Monday night, where their respective schedules show both the Oakland Athletics and the Warriors with home night games, which ended at about the same time? Both teams use the same parking facilities. Ouch.

Mint Condition Mavericks. No sooner had the Mavericks clinched home court advantage throughout the playoffs than coach Avery Johnson sealed his two best players in bubble wrap, placed them in the boxes they came in and locked them in a closet. Dirk Nowitzki and Jerry Stackhouse will not be joining the rest of the Dallas team on their final road trip, after the Mavs' 96-86 win over the Clippers on Monday clinched the NBA's best record with five games to go. Nowitzki and Stackhouse scored 26 points and 18 points, respectively.

Nuggets Poised To Pounce. Could the Nuggets finally be getting hot just before the playoffs? Although only 27-27 since the trade that brought Allen Iverson from the 76ers, Denver won its sixth straight on Monday, 115-111 over the Lakers, as Carmelo Anthony had 33 points and Marcus Camby 22 rebounds and seven blocks. Iverson had 24 points. The Lakers (40-38) haven't beaten a team with a winning record since Utah on Feb. 26.

The Big Five-Oh. Meanwhile, the Pistons lowered their magic number (magic numbers in basketball!) to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs to one, after a 91-83 win over the Knicks. Chauncey Billups scored 22 points as Detroit got its 50th win of the season.