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Bryant, Gasol lead Lakers to 99-85 victory over Spurs

KOBE Bryant scored 22 points before sitting out the fourth quarter, and Pau Gasol added 16 points, five rebounds and four assists as the Los Angeles Lakers routed the San Antonio Spurs 99-85 yesterday.

The win was the fourth straight and 14th in 17 games for the Lakers (35-8), whose .814 winning percentage is the best in the NBA although the defending champion Boston Celtics (37-9) lead them by a half-game in the overall standings by virtue of their 124-100 victory over Dallas earlier yesterday.

Tony Parker had 19 points and six assists and Tim Duncan added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Spurs (29-14), who lost for just the fourth time in their past 18 games.

Celtics 124, Mavericks 100

At Boston, Ray Allen scored 20 of his 23 points in the first half when the Celtics opened a 27-point lead, and Eddie House added seven 3-pointers to help Boston beat Dallas and give the defending NBA champion its eighth straight victory.

House scored 23 - making 7-of-11 from 3-point range - Kevin Garnett scored 23, and Rajon Rondo had 13 points and 14 assists for Boston. After a 2-7 slump that was the worst of the new Big Three era, the Celtics have won eight in a row by an average of 16 points, and six straight in double digits.

Jason Terry scored 27 for the Mavericks, who have won just three of their last nine games.

Suns 104, Hawks 99

At Atlanta, Amare Stoudemire scored 23 points, and Shaquille O'Neal had 19 points and 11 rebounds to help Phoenix down Atlanta and snap a three-game losing streak.

Steve Nash, who finished with 14 points and 13 assists, used a give-and-go with Stoudemire to make it 102-99 with 26.2 seconds remaining.

The Hawks had won three straight, but made just one field goal, a short jumper by Solomon Jones, after Jones gave Atlanta its last lead, 95-94, at the 6:06 mark.

O'Neal hit two free throws to put Phoenix ahead 96-95 for the game's 19th and final lead change.

Reserve guard Leandro Barbosa had 20 points for the Suns, who had lost five of six and were coming off a season-worst 22-point loss at Charlotte.

Raptors 113, Kings 97

At Toronto, Chris Bosh scored 31 points and Andrea Bargnani added 24 as Toronto handed Sacramento its their fifth straight loss.

Jose Calderon had 16 points and eight assists as Toronto won its second straight following a season-high seven-game losing streak. Jermaine O'Neal added 11 points and 10 rebounds and Anthony Parker scored 11 points for the Raptors.

John Salmons scored 21 points for the Kings, who are 0-18 against Eastern Conference opponents this season and have not beaten an East team since a 106-100 home win over Toronto on March 16, 2008.

Rockets 108, Pistons 105

At Auburn Hills, Michigan, Ron Artest scored three of his 24 points at the line in the final 14 seconds to help Houston hold off Detroit.

Artest and Tracy McGrady returned to the lineup for the Rockets, who were without Yao Ming because of a knee injury.

Luis Scolahad 21 points while starting for Yao, and McGrady scored 15. Shane Battier and Rafer Alston both added 14, and Von Wafer scored 10 points.

Detroit's Richard Hamilton scored 27 and Rasheed Wallace had 22 points. Allen Iverson scored 17 and Rodney Stuckey had 14 points.

Timberwolves 109, Bulls 108, OT

At Minneapolis, Al Jefferson scored a season-high 39 points to lead Minnesota to an overtime victory over Chicago, the Timberwolves' ninth win in 11 games.

With the win, Minnesota sent Chicago to its fifth straight loss and improved to 9-2 in January, surpassing San Antonio for the league's best record in 2009.

Ben Gordon led six Chicago players in double figures with 23 points.

Rookie Kevin Love added 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who completed their biggest comeback of the season after falling behind by 16 points in the first quarter.

Pacers 98, Bobcats 93

At Indianapolis, Danny Granger had 27 points to lead Indiana past Charlotte for its season-high fifth straight win at home.

Raja Bell and Boris Diaw had 18 points apiece, and Emeka Okafor finished with 14 points and eight rebounds for Charlotte, which had won five of six.

Charlotte, which trailed by 14 in the third quarter, cut the deficit to 96-93 on Bell's jumper with 1:25 left, and Jeff Foster's free throw gave Indiana a four-point lead. Following two missed free throws by Diaw and Gerald Wallace's missed 3-pointer, T.J. Ford's foul shot sealed the victory.

Warriors 107, Clippers 92

At Oakland, California, Corey Maggette scored 20 points against his former team as the Golden State Warriors downed the Los Angeles Clippers to end a two-game slide.

Anthony Morrow added 17 points and Kelenna Azubuike had 16 points for the Warriors, who beat the Clippers for the fifth straight time. Andris Biedrins had 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Eric Gordon scored 21 points for the Clippers, which lost their seventh straight on the road and 15th in 17 games overall. Rookie center DeAndre Jordan grabbed a season-best 18 rebounds to go with eight points.

The Warriors led 55-44 at the half and took a 20-point lead --84-64 -- into the final quarter.


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