ATLANTA -- The Chicago Bulls strengthened their hold on home-court advantage in the playoffs, and made it a little tougher for the Atlanta Hawks to extend their season. Whitey Herzog Jersey . For that, the Bulls can thank D.J. Augustin. Again. Keeping up his inspired play, Augustin scored 23 points as Chicago held off slumping Atlanta for a 105-92 victory Wednesday night, bumping the Hawks out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with two weeks left in the season. Chicago stretched its lead to 2 1-2 games over Brooklyn for home court in the opening round of the playoffs. The Bulls may have lost Derrick Rose to major knee injuries two years in a row, but they are 35-20 since signing Augustin in mid-December. "Hes saved our season," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "D.J. can beat you a lot of different ways." The performance came three days after Augustin scored a career-high 33 points against Boston. "D-Rose is the face of this team," Augustin said. "Im just trying to come in, just trying to help us out, do whatever I can do to help us win and go forward in the playoffs." Chicago took control with a 16-3 run in the second quarter and led the rest of the way, fending off the last of Atlantas runs when Jimmy Butler swished a 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining. "We just want to finish the rest of the season strong," Augustin said. The Hawks are heading in the opposite direction, losing for the 21st time in 28 games. This one dropped them slightly behind New York for the eighth playoff seed. "We still control our own destiny," DeMarre Carroll said. "But now things got more interesting." The Knicks (33-43) routed Brooklyn 110-81 to climb percentage points ahead of Atlanta (32-42). Cleveland is also in the mix, two games out after beating Orlando. The Hawks host the Cavaliers on Friday night. Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Jeff Teague added 21 points. But Kyle Korver, with 12 points, was the only other Atlanta player in double figures. Everyone else went 13 of 32 from the field. "Were a new team," Carroll said, referring to Atlantas massive turnover the last two summers. "This year is not going to make or break us. Just to be talking about making the playoffs is amazing." The Hawks were up 42-38 with 9 minutes left in the second quarter after Mike Muscala knocked down a couple of free throws. Chicago took control from there, clamping down defensively and scoring 16 of the next 19 points. The Hawks missed 12 of 13 shots, forced to settle mostly for outside jumpers and botching a couple of easy ones when they did get inside. Augustin capped the spurt with a brilliant hesitation move, freezing the Atlanta defenders before bursting through a gap for an easy layup. The Bulls led 57-49 at the half and never surrendered the advantage. Atlanta made several runs, only to have Chicago answer every one of them. With the Hawks down 93-87 and in possession, Taj Gibson swatted away Carrolls driving shot, the Bulls grabbed a loose ball and took off the other way, with Augustin sinking a 3-pointer that led to an Atlanta timeout. It was another trey by Butler that finished off the Hawks -- appropriate enough, since the Bulls went 12 of 25 beyond the arc. Augustin was 4 of 8 from long range, while Butler chipped in with three more. In contrast to the Hawks, six players were in double figures for the Bulls, including Butler and Kirk Hinrich with 17 points apiece. Atlanta has eight games left to pull out its seventh straight playoff appearance. "This team is competitive," Elton Brand said. "Theres no quit in us. Were going to play it out until the end." NOTES: Chicagos Joakim Noah had 10 points and 10 rebounds. ... The Bulls swept the season series 4-0 and now have won six straight against the Hawks since last season. ... Thibodeau shrugged off the 200th career victory. "Ive got a good team," he said after improving his record to 200-105 in four seasons. Jonathan Villar Jersey . Murray beat Sam Querrey 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-3 to clinch Britains opening-round victory against the United States on Sunday at Petco Park. "Im proud of the way Im playing just now, because I had to do a lot of work to get back to where I want to be," Murray said after celebrating with his teammates on the red clay court in a temporary stadium in left field of the downtown home of baseballs San Diego Padres. Hoyt Wilhelm Jersey . In mens doubles, Vancouvers Vasek Pospisil and American Jack Sock reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over Croatian Mate Pavic and Andre Sa of Brazil. PORTLAND, Ore. -- There is something about returning to Portland that brings the best out of Memphis forward Zach Randolph. Randolph did another number on his former team Tuesday night, finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies to a 98-81 victory over the Trail Blazers. Mike Conley had 19 points and seven assists, and Marc Gasol added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Grizzlies (23-20), who won their third straight and seventh in eight games. LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 27 points and 16 rebounds as the Blazers (33-13) suffered their most lopsided defeat of the season. Portland registered a season low for points scored and had their home winning streak snapped at five games. Randolph registered his 27th double-double of the season as a franchise record-setting 190th for the Grizzlies, who never trailed. Portland fell to 18-5 at home. Randolph, who played his first six seasons with the Blazers, averaged 22.7 points on 52.9 per cent shooting in seven previous visits. "Its always fun to come back," said Randolph, who scored 13 of his 23 points in the first half as the Grizzlies opened a 61-46 lead. "This is where I started, man. Thats just the kind of player that I am." The Grizzlies, picking up where they had left off in Saturdays 99-81 home win over Houston, shot 58.3 per cent in the first quarter against the Blazers and jumped in front 31-22 behind Randolphs 11 points. "It was important for us to get off to a fast start and we did," Randolph said. "We had great offence during the game, but our defence was the key." The Grizzlies held Portland, averaging a NBA-leading 109 points a game, to 34.5 per cent shooting two nights after the Blazers shot a season-low 33.7 per cent in a 103-88 loss at Golden State. "Memphis saw blood and they lunged at our jugular," Blazers centre Robin Lopez said. "I really think we kind of slashed our own throat in a way, which kind of let them run away with it." Aldridge was 6 of 7 in the first quarter and Nicholas Batum converted a three-point play that pulled Portland within 24-22, but Memphis outscored the Blazers 7-0 over the final 2:20 of the period to open a nine-point cushion. "We were in attack mode on booth ends of the floor," Grizzlies coach David Joerger said. Cody Carroll Jersey. "Most of the night, we were the aggressors." Memphis connected four times from 3-point range in the second quarter, including one by Courtney Lee that extended the lead to 57-39 with 3:39 to play in the half. Damian Lillard connected from 3 for Portland to start the fourth quarter, sparking a 23-13 run that cut the deficit to 94-81 with 2:27 to play. "It was a disappointing game, needless to say," said Blazers coach Terry Stotts, whose team was playing its ninth game in 14 nights. "We got off to a slow start. We caught a team thats trying to put it together. Theyre on a roll and theyre playing very well. They showed that in the first half." Lillard finished with 16 points, Lopez had 14, and Batum 10 for the Blazers. "Were in a rough patch right now," Lillard said. "Were not shooting the ball very well and weve got to defend better. Weve played so well, we were due for a rough patch and a little bit of adversity." The Grizzlies remain in fourth place in the Southwest Division but are gaining ground. "Were getting our chemistry right," Randolph said. "I dont want to say were right there or that were hitting our peak, but its coming. As long as we keep working hard and playing 48 minutes, we give ourselves a chance to compete with anybody." NOTES: Aldridge recorded his 22nd game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, second most in the league behind Minnesotas Kevin Love (26). . With his 15th point Tuesday, Aldridge passed Cliff Robinson for third among Portlands all-time leading scorers with 10,406 points. Aldridges 27 point brought his career total to 10,418. . Memphis guard Tony Allen, whose last appearance was on Jan. 3 at Denver, was not in uniform and missed his 11th consecutive game with a sprained left wrist. Allen was averaging 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds at the time of his injury. . Randolph went into Tuesdays game with 384 career double-doubles, ranking eighth among active players. . Randolph won the 2003-04 NBA Most Improved Player Award while in Portland and was the only player in club history to lead the team in scoring and rebounding in four consecutive seasons. ' ' '
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