Mavs clinch second seed


DALLAS, April 15- Dallas locked up the second seed in the NBA's Western Conference Wednesday as they closed the regular season with a 96-89 victory over a below-strength San Antonio side.

The seventh-seeded Spurs, who rested Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili for the season finale, won’t be so accommodating when the two teams meet in the first round of the playoffs.

A playoff matchup was all but set before tipoff.

Even if the Spurs had won, they could have moved up to number 6 and the Mavericks could have dropped to number three.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had Duncan and Ginobili on the initial lineup he turned in. Then he changed his mind, and neither even sat on the bench.

The Mavericks kept their stars in because they needed the second seed to guarantee home-court advantage in a possible second-round series.

The upcoming playoff series will be the third in five years between the Texas rivals.

Dallas won the last two, in the first round last year and in the second round on their way to the NBA finals in 2006.

In other Western Conference contests, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant became the NBA’s youngest scoring champion, scoring 31 points in a 114-105 victory over Memphis.

The Thunder squandered a 27-point lead before digging in to secure their 50th victory of the season. They’ll meet defending NBA champions and Western Conference top seeds the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.

Durant had the scoring title all but sealed after a late-season surge that included three 40-point games in April.

It became a certainty when Eastern Conference leaders Cleveland decided to rest reigning Most Valuable Player LeBron James, the only player with even an outside shot at catching Durant.

Durant, 21, finished with an average of 30.1 points, 0.4 ahead of James, and supplanted 22-year-old Max Zaslofsky of the 1947-48 Chicago Stags as the youngest scoring champ in NBA history.