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Kobe, Ariza rally Lakers past Mavs

KOBE Bryant scored 28 points as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied after squandering a third-quarter lead to beat the Dallas Mavericks 107-100 at Staples Center on Sunday.

Bryant added eight rebounds and five assists while Trevor Ariza contributed a career-high 26 points to help the Lakers improve their Western Conference-leading record to 53-13.

Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said Ariza's play at both ends of the court had made the difference.

"Yes it's important to score points and Trevor had a good night tonight in the first half particularly, but his defense and his ability to change things up made the difference," Jackson said. "That's what he did late in the ballgame that gave us a chance to get the lead back and continue.

"That was really important."

In other National Basketball Association games, it was: Cavaliers 98, Knicks 93; Bucks 86, Celtics 77; Raptors 110, Pacers 87; 76ers 85, Heat 77; Hawks 98, Trail Blazers 80; Grizzlies 89, Pistons 84; Magic 105, Jazz 87; Wizards 106, Kings 104; Suns 154, Warriors 130; and Clippers 107, Nets 105.

In Los Angeles, the Lakers held a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter, but the Mavericks went on a 31-14 run that gave Dallas a 95-89 lead. Los Angeles answered with a 12-0 run after that to reclaim the lead.

Bryant also praised Ariza for his part in the win.

"He just knocked down the shots that we see him knock down in practice all the time," Bryant said. "He works extremely hard on his game, he's extremely patient and very efficient."

Pau Gasol added 25 points for the Lakers, who have clinched the Pacific Division title and are battling the Cleveland Cavaliers for the best record in the NBA.

Jason Terry scored 29 points, while Dirk Nowitzki added 20 for Dallas (40-27), which is currently the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

The teams could meet in the first round of the playoffs.

"We got in a hole and we dug ourselves out of it," Terry said.

"We definitely thought we had a chance to pull it out. This will help our confidence as we get closer to the end of the season. They are one of the better teams in the NBA and we stayed right with them."

In 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 three-pointers and scored 26 points for New York, which had its three-game winning streak stopped.


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