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Bryant leads Lakers over Mavericks

KOBE Bryant scored 28 points as the Los Angeles Lakers squandered a big lead before taking control late in a 107-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks yesterday.

Trevor Ariza had a career-high 26 and Pau Gasol added 25 for the Lakers, who are vying with Cleveland for the NBA's best record and are already the Pacific Division champs. They could meet the Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs.

Reserve Jason Terry led Dallas with 29 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 20 on 6-of-20 shooting.

Gasol finished 12-of-13 from the floor, making all 10 of his shots in the first half. Bryant was 11-of-20 for the game.

Bucks 86, Celtics 77

At Milwaukee, Charlie Villanueva scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bucks hold off Boston.

Kendrick Perkins scored a career-high 26 points with 12 rebounds, but had little help from anybody else as Milwaukee denied the defending champions a chance to clinch their second straight Atlantic Division crown. Paul Pierce had 15 points.

Suns 154, Warriors 130

At Oakland, California, Jason Richardson scored 31 points against his former team and Shaquille O'Neal added 26 as the Phoenix Suns rang up the highest point total in the NBA this season.

Matt Barnes, another former Warriors player, added 20 points and a career-high 11 assists as the Suns ended a five-game losing streak on the road and a four-game skid at Golden State. Leandro Barbosa added 21 points and Jared Dudley and Steve Nash each had 11.

Monta Ellis scored 26 points and Corey Maggette added 21 for the Warriors, who had won their last two at home. Kelenna Azubuike scored 18 and Jamal Crawford had 17 as Golden State was officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Clippers 107, Nets 105

At Los Angeles, Steve Novak made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to help the Los Angeles Clippers snap a seven-game losing streak.

Novak finished with 21 points, and Baron Davis and Al Thornton each scored 20 for Los Angeles.

Vince Carter had a season-high 41 points along with seven rebounds and six assists for the Nets.

Cavaliers 98, Knicks 93

At Cleveland, Mo Williams scored 23 points and LeBron James added 19 as Cleveland opened a crucial stretch of home games by beating New York.

The Cavaliers didn't put the Knicks away until the final minutes and improved the NBA's best home record to 29-1. Cleveland is competing with Boston for the best mark in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage in the postseason.

Al Harrington made five 3-pointers and scored 26 points for New York, which had its three-game winning streak stopped.

Magic 105, Jazz 87

At Orlando, Florida, Dwight Howard had 28 points and 20 rebounds, leading Orlando over weary Utah for its third straight victory.

The Magic (49-17) closed within a half-game of the Boston Celtics (50-17), who lost earlier in the day, for the No. 2 seed in the upcoming playoffs.

Carlos Boozer had 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz, coming off a triple-overtime loss in Miami a day earlier. The Magic got 16 points from point guard Rafer Alston and 14 from backup point guard Anthony Johnson.

76ers 85, Heat 77

At Philadelphia, Andre Iguodala scored 21 points in the 76ers win over Miami.

Dwyane Wade, coming off a 50-point performance in a triple-overtime victory over Utah on Saturday, was held to 18. The NBA's leading scorer looked tired after playing a career-high 52 minutes against the Jazz. He shot 8-for-21 in 34? minutes.

Thaddeus Young scored 17 points and Samuel Dalembert had eight points and 12 rebounds for Philadelphia, which won its third straight and moved within two games of Miami for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Hawks 98, Trail Blazers 80

At Atlanta, Joe Johnson scored 35 points and Josh Smith had 19 points and eight rebounds as Atlanta beat Portland for its fifth consecutive victory.

Brandon Roy finished with 29 points for the Blazers, who have lost two of three. Portland dropped a half-game behind Denver for the Northwest Division lead and fell out of a three-way tie with the Nuggets and New Orleans Hornets for fourth place in the Western Conference.

Johnson, who scored 15 points in the third quarter, shot 15-for-27 from the field in his fourth straight 30-point game. He handed out six assists, but missed all four of his 3-point attempts.

Grizzlies 89, Pistons 84

At Auburn Hills, Michigan, Mike Conley scored 20 points and Darko Milicic added a double-double against his former team as Memphis ended a seven-game losing streak to Detroit.

The Palace crowd observed a moment of silence before the game in honor of longtime owner William Davidson, who died Friday at the age of 86. The Pistons wore a black ribbon on their left shoulders.

Antonio McDyess led the Pistons with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Richard Hamilton had 14 points and 12 assists.

Raptors 110, Pacers 87

At Toronto, Andrea Bargnani scored 27 points, Chris Bosh had 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Toronto used a big second half to beat Indiana and snap a seven-game losing streak.Pops Mensah-Bonsu scored a career-high 21 points and Jose Calderon added 15 points and 12 assists for Toronto, which had not won since a 118-110 home victory over Minnesota on Feb. 24.

Troy Murphy had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, with T.J. Ford adding 15 and Jarrett Jack 13.

Wizards 106, Kings 104

At Washington, with the league's worst record on the line, Washington kept Sacramento in the cellar, dropping the Kings' record against the Eastern Conference to 0-26.

Antawn Jamison scored 30 points to lead the Wizards, whose 16-51 record remains only marginally better than the Kings' 14-52. Sacramento remained on course to become the first NBA team to go winless against the other conference - in the same season that the Wizards are closing in on becoming the first to go winless against its own division.

Andray Blatche added 16 points, and Darius Songaila 15 for the Wizards. Washington played without Caron Butler.


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