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Bryant-led Lakers top Rocket

KOBE Bryant's clutch three-pointer capped a 33-point performance and launched the Los Angeles Lakers to a 105-100 road win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.

Bryant's long shot with 27 seconds remaining put the Lakers ahead 102-100 and they never trailed again, bringing the Rockets' three-game winning streak to an end.

"I just rose up and hit it," Bryant said after his only three-pointer of the game.

"Houston played extremely well and we found a way to win," he added. "We came into a hostile (environment) and got a big win."

Bryant had 13 points in the quarter, coming up with his key shot after Shane Battier had given Houston a 100-99 lead with 47 seconds to play with a three-pointer of his own.

The Rockets had a chance to tie the score after Bryant's shot when Derek Fisher fouled Houston's Rafer Alston, but Alston missed two free throws.

Pau Gasol sealed the victory with three free throws in the final seven seconds.

Von Wafer scored a career-high 23 points for the Rockets, who were playing without the injured Tracy McGrady. Carl Landry added 21 points and Yao Ming posted 19 points and 17 rebounds.

"If we get that effort every game then we are going to be fine," Rockets coach Rick Adelman told reporters. "We played hard, we competed the whole game, we just didn't make the plays that they made, that Kobe made at the end."

In Denver, Chauncey Billups made two free throws with 2.2 seconds left to give Denver a narrow 99-97 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.

In Phoenix, the home side notched a third straight win by downing Atlanta 107-102.

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.

In Memphis, Tennessee, LeBron James had 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his second triple-double of the season, leading Cleveland 102-87 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.

In Sacramento, California, Orlando made an NBA record 23 3-pointers to cruise past Sacramento 139-107.

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.

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Raymond Felton's jump shot with 0.7 seconds left saw Charlotte edge Detroit 80-78. The Bobcats scored the game's final nine points, including seven from Felton who finished with 23.

In Minneapolis, Shawn Marion hit the go-ahead free throws with 22 seconds left to give Miami a close 99-96 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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