NBA scores 2014: Bulls whip Wizards for fifth straight win, 96-78

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In what could be an Eastern Conference playoff preview, Joakim Noah came through with a 21-point performance.

With their fifth straight win, this time a 96-78 rout of the Wizards, the Chicago Bulls crept closer to hosting Washington in the opening round of the playoffs. With the win, the Bulls pulled into a tie with Toronto for the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Joakim Noah was dominant in the victory, grabbing 12 rebounds to go along with 21 points.

The Bulls continue to get production from D.J. Augustin, who scored a game-high 25 points off the bench. Chicago's free-agent pickup from December has been a big part of the Bulls' five-game win streak, eclipsing 20 points in three of the five games in the streak.

The Wizards got 20 points and six assists from John Wall, but scored just 26 points as a team in the first half. The loss was just Washington's second in the last six games, as the Wizards hung steady as the likely No. 6 seed in the East.

Nets 105, 76ers 101

Brooklyn held off a late rally from Philadelphia, who trailed by 15 points at the half. Deron Williams finished with 19 points and nine assists, as the Nets win their fifth game in six attempts.

Kevin Garnett made his return from injury, having missed 18 games with back spasms. The 15-time All-Star scored 10 points in just 13 minutes of playing time. Mason Plumlee got most of the minutes at power forward in relief of Garnett, scoring 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

Michael Carter-Williams led a balanced attack for Philly, scoring 12 points and dishing 11 assists. Thaddeus Young led the Sixers in scoring, dropping 20 on 8-of-18 shooting.

Raptors 102, Bucks 98

Brandon Knight's lay-in with three minutes to play made it a one-point game, but DeMar DeRozan scored eight of his 23 points down the stretch to close out Milwaukee. The Raptors also got 26 points from Greivous Vasquez, who hit six of his eight three-point attempts.

After playing three straight games against Miami, Houston and Indiana, Toronto is in a stretch that includes another game with Milwaukee, two against the Knicks, a home game against Philly and trip to Detroit. The Raptors are likely to hang on to the No. 3 seed in the East, even with red-hot Chicago breathing down their neck.

Bobcats 94, Cavaliers 96 (OT)

Despite 44 points from Kyrie Irving, Charlotte held on against upset-minded Cleveland in overtime. The Bobcats let the former No. 1 overall pick get his, but held his teammates in check. Irving was 16-of-31 from the field, but the rest of the Cavs roster shot a miserable 29 percent in the game.

Al Jefferson led the way for Charlotte, scoring a team-high 24 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Kemba Walker shot just 7-of-23 from the field in the game, but got to 20 points thanks to three triples. Gerald Henderson had 15, icing the game with a pair of free throws in the extra period.

Pistons 115, Celtics 111

Detroit outscored Boston 30-16 in the fourth quarter as the Pistons dispatched the Celtics Saturday. Rajon Rondo sat, resting as Boston hit the road for the second game of a back-to-back. Rodney Stuckey scored 10 of his 26 points for the Pistons in the fourth quarter, including a pair of free throws that gave Detroit the lead for good.

The Celtics got 25 points from Jerryd Bayless and a double-double from Jared Sullinger, but couldn't muster a performance from their bench. Boston scored just 11 bench points in the game, all from Kelly Olynyk.

Magic 100, Timberwolves 92

Orlando's future was on display in this game, as Victor Oladipo took over the game in the fourth quarter. Trailing by five heading into the period, the Magic got seven points from the No. 2 overall draft pick in the final 12 minutes. Orlando outscored Minnesota 28-15 in the fourth, as Kevin Love sat with back spasms.

Oladipo finished with 16 points and six assists, hitting both of his three-point opportunities. Arron Afflalo led the team with 18 points, while Tobias Harris and Mo Harkless chipped in 17.

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