NBA Scores And More: Dwyane Wade Closes Out Lakers, Mavericks Trounce Knicks

Kobe Bryant lost his heat down the stretch, and the Lakers lost to the Heat. Meanwhile, Dirk Nowitzki helped the Mavericks slay the defense-light Knicks and Nene pounded the Suns.

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Lakers Vs. Heat: Chris Bosh Stars, Dwyane Wade Closes Miami Win As Kobe Bryant Falters

The Miami Heat's losing streak has ended, and in convincing fashion as the beguiled star-laden squad went into crunch time with the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers -- led by the popular king of clutch Kobe Bryant -- and ... Miami won 94-88. This was exactly the type of game the Heat have been losing -- close games to excellent teams; to win one against the most gilded player in the game on such a big stage is a real triumph.

Whether it will be met with such congratulations, and whether it can be repeated remain to be seen. Miami is, after all, just 1-5 on its trip through the upper echelon of the NBA with five more games to go. The Spurs on Monday provide the next incredible test, being that San Antonio smoked Miami by 30 last week. The win over the Lakers can either be a catalyst from something special, or a footnote at the end of another disappointment.

The game was amazingly close throughout, a real nailbiter. Neither team led by more than six, and there were 16 lead changes and 18 ties. It was nothing like Miami's dismissal of the Lakers on Christmas Day, a game uncompetitive by the third quarter. This edition was completely up in the air, until Kobe started missing shots. Bryant missed his final three shots and had two crucial turnovers in the closing minute and a half as Miami broke the 88-88 tie with six unanswered points.

Dwyane Wade had a hand in 10 of the Heat's final 14 points -- until LeBron's free throws inside of 20 seconds iced the game and excepting a score by Chris Bosh, Wade for four buckets and a fast-break assist to LeBron in the final five minutes. But early on, it was all Bosh. The man who takes the brunt of criticism for the Heat's woes dominated the post in the first half, scoring 16 by the end of the second quarter. He finished with 24, tied for the game-high with Kobe.

Kobe scored 17 in the first half, but just seven in the second as he shot 2-11 in the final two quarters. Pau Gasol hit eight of his 16 shots, but rarely saw the ball late, as is the norm with the Lakers.


Knicks Vs. Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Exploit New York's Defense, Survive Amar'e Stoudemire's Outburst

Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks over the New York Knicks 127-109 on Thursday. But the real victory in this match-up was defense, as Shawn Marion started at small forward to handle Carmelo Anthony. And handle he did: 'Melo scored 18 points on 5-15 shooting. That's not terrible output from Anthony, who augmented the poor shooting by getting to the line for seven free throws (all made). But it's below his standard, and Marion deserves credit.

The Mavericks could not, however, stop Amar'e Stoudemire, who ended up with 36 points on 12-27 shooting. With Chauncey Billups still out, New York got quite a bit out of the guard tandem of Landry Fields and Toney Douglas, who combined for 37 points on 12-21 shooting. But Dallas scored at will while the Knicks were tripped up enough to create the margin the Mavericks needed.

Dallas was in control from the outset. Rodrigue Beaubois opened the match hot, and scored 14 points despite playing just 20 minutes. Jason Terry was the star of the second, with 11 points on 5-8 shooting. But Nowitzki closed it out, scoring 17 in the second half to keep the Knicks at bay.


Nuggets Vs. Suns: Nene Crushes Phoenix, Continues Denver's Run

Nene scored 22 points in 26 minutes to lead the Denver Nuggets past the Phoenix Suns. The Suns are famously thin up front; even the addition of Marcin Gortat, a legit defender, could do little to slow Denver's Brazilian beast. Nene hit nine of 12 shots and picked up three steals. Ty Lawson added 20 for the Nuggets, who scored 1.11 points per possession, a bit above league average for offensive efficiency.

Phoenix struggled to get its excellent offense on track, partly because of Nene and Kenyon Martin (still one of the better defensive frontcourts in the league) and partly because of Steve Nash's nagging groin injury, which held the two-time MVP to just four field goal attempts and 27 minutes. Gortat was the Suns' high scorer, and that tells you all you need to know.

Aaron Brooks is still finding his way as Nash's back-up; the former Rocket played 20 minutes, shooting 3-9 and dropping seven assists. In the meantime, Phoenix is three wins behind Memphis for the final playoff spot in the West. Denver is sitting in the No. 5 spot.

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