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Bryant leads Lakers to 105-100 win over undermanned Rockets

KOBE Bryant sank a key 3-pointer with 27 seconds left to secure Los Angeles' 105-100 win over the Houston Rockets yesterday, giving the Lakers the NBA's best record.

Bryant scored 33 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, finally getting the better of Houston's Von Wafer, who scored a career-high 23 points in place of the injured Tracy McGrady.

Carl Landry had a season-high 21 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who also played without Ron Artest.

McGrady is out at least two weeks to recuperate from lingering knee soreness, while Artest has missed five of the past six games with a sprained right ankle. He will be out for at least another week.

The win moved the Lakers to 31-6, breaking a tie with Cleveland for the league's best record.

Nuggets 99, Mavericks 97

In Denver, Chauncey Billups made two free throws with 2.2 seconds left to give Denver a narrow win over Dallas.

Billups scored 23 points to lead Denver in recovering after blowing a 17-point lead.

The loss tarnished a 44-point effort by Dirk Nowitzki -- including the tying basket with 19 seconds left -- as the Mavericks slipped to a third successive loss.

Suns 107, Hawks 102

In Phoenix, the home side notched a third straight win by downing Atlanta.

Shaquille O'Neal had 26 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns, who have won six of seven and improved to nine games over .500 for the first time this season. The Hawks have lost four in a row.

After a tight fourth quarter, O'Neal put the Suns ahead for good, 99-98, with a foul shot with 1:49 remaining.

Cavaliers 102, Grizzlies 87

In Memphis, Tennessee, LeBron James had 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his second triple-double of the season, leading Cleveland over Memphis.

James scored only nine points in the opening half, then had 17 in the third quarter and completed his triple-double with a behind-the-back pass for a layup in the fourth.

Magic 139, Kings 107

In Sacramento, California, Orlando made an NBA record 23 3-pointers to cruise past Sacramento.

The Magic made 23 of 37 attempts from beyond the line to break the old mark of 21, set by Toronto in 2005 against Philadelphia. The record provided the only interest to a one-sided encounter.

Dwight Howard had 25 points and 15 rebounds. With the Magic leading comfortably, Howard sat on the bench throughout the fourth quarter as the Magic won their fifth straight game.

Bobcats 80, Pistons 78

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Raymond Felton's jump shot with 0.7 seconds left saw Charlotte edge Detroit.

The Bobcats scored the game's final nine points, including seven from Felton who finished with 23.

Heat 99, Timberwolves 96

In Minneapolis, Shawn Marion hit the go-ahead free throws with 22 seconds left to give Miami a close win over Minnesota.

Dwyane Wade had 31 points and eight assists for Miami, who inflicted the Timberwolves' first loss in 2009 after five straight wins.

Minnesota's Randy Foye had a shot to take the lead after Marion's free throws, but Wade swatted the layup attempt away and Foye's last-gasp 3-point attempt went wide.


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