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Nets beat Rockets to reach playoffs

AP

The Brooklyn Nets are so good at home now that even the Houston Rockets can’t beat them.

The Nets clinched a playoff berth by beating the Rockets at home for the first time in 11 years, getting 32 points from Joe Johnson in a 105-96 victory on Tuesday night.

Shaun Livingston added 17 points for the Nets, who extended their home winning streak to 14 games, longest in their NBA history and tops in the league this season. They finished 18-12 overall against the Western Conference.

“We’ve just been playing and trying to protect home court. They came in here and we try to send them on their way with a loss, and that’s for everybody,” Livingston said. “It just happens to be we’ve been playing good basketball against the West.”

The Nets ended a 14-game skid against Houston with their first victory in the series since March 13, 2006. The Nets hadn’t defeated the Rockets at home since March 31, 2003, when they were still playing in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The Nets also pulled within 1½ games of Toronto and Chicago for the No. 3 seed in the East and home-court advantage in the first round, quite a change for a team that was so bad during its 10-21 start that Johnson had trouble envisioning where it is right now.

“Honestly, I couldn’t even see it,” he said. “I kept saying to myself eventually this is going to turn around, things are going to turn for us. Eventually it did starting the new year. We were a different team, our mindset was different and the way we played was different.”

James Harden scored 26 points for Houston, which lost its second straight following a five-game winning streak. Still without Dwight Howard because of a sore left ankle, the Rockets shot just 38 percent from the field.

“We just missed some shots, missed some opportunities,” Harden said of the Rockets, also without starters Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones. “We let them get too comfortable early in the game. They got it going and it was tough.”

The Nets held the NBA’s second-highest scoring team 11 points below its average and improved to 30-12 overall since Jan. 1. They haven’t lost at Barclays Center in more than two months and make just a short trip Wednesday to visit the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

“We know these games, even if you say they don’t mean more, they mean a lot more, I think, just because of the rivalry that’s been formed,” Nets guard Deron Williams said.

Warriors 122, Mavs 120 (OT)

In Dallas, Stephen Curry made a tiebreaking jumper in the final second of overtime, lifting Golden State to the win.

Curry finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Klay Thompson led Golden State with 27 points, and Jermaine O’Neal added 20.

Dallas dropped from seventh in the Western Conference to ninth, a half-game behind Memphis and Phoenix in the final two playoff positions.

Trail Blazers 124, Lakers 112

In Los Angeles, Damian Lillard scored 34 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 31 points and 15 rebounds as Portland overpowered the Lakers.

The Blazers’ fourth straight victory, coupled with Houston’s loss at Brooklyn, moved Portland within 1½ games of the Rockets for fourth place in the Western Conference and home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. The Rockets have three games in hand.

Nick Young, the fifth and last player off the Los Angeles bench, made his first eight shots and finished 15-for-26 with a season-high 40 points.