NBA Scores And More: Lakers Dismiss Hornets, Grizzlies Upset Spurs

The Lakers had no problem with the post-David West Hornets. In other action, the Mavericks outlasted the Suns in a downbeat battle and the Grizzlies jabbed fear into the hearts of the Spurs.

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Hornets Vs. Lakers: Kobe Bryant Drops 30, L.A. Handles New Orleans

Kobe Bryant scored 30 points on 11-25 shooting as the Los Angeles Lakers handled the New Orleans Hornets comfortably with a 102-84 victory. The Lakers never trailed after the first few minutes of the game, and were never in danger from halftime on. Kobe and Pau Gasol combined to score 20 in the first quarter and 14 in the second; the Lakers, at least on this occasion, showed little fear about a potential first-round matchup with the Hornets.

Carl Landry, in his second game as a starter due to David West's season-ending knee injury, put up 24 points on Gasol. Landry hit 8-16 shots and got to the line for 10 free throws, and continued to dismiss concerns about his fitness to help New Orleans. The problem was with the rest of the team. Chris Paul was limited to 10 points; Marco Belinelli shot 4-16.

If the Hornets have a prayer in a potential NBA playoffs series against the Lakers, CP3 will need to be more of a force on offense, Emeka Okafor must continue to crash the offensive glass (he had eight offensive rebounds in 30 minutes) and someone beyond Paul and Landry has to score timely baskets. Belinelli, Willie Green, Jarrett Jack, Trevor Ariza and Okafor are all unreliable on offense. And offense is the challenge for these Hornets, because so many of Monty Williams' rotational decisions are made based on defense.

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Mavericks Vs. Suns: Defense Reigns As Dallas Beats Phoenix

Those old Dallas Mavericks-Phoenix Suns showdown never used to end in 91-83 scores, as did the teams' meet-up on Sunday. The Mavericks won despite shooting 38 percent; the usually high-octane Suns shot 42 percent, but hit just one of 16 three-pointers. No one scored more than 20 points, and the two fellows who hit that mark -- Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley -- aren't exactly NBA All-Stars. (Yet.)

Gortat deserves any accolade you can toss his way right now. The Polish Hammer broke his head on Friday, had it reset manually, and played without a mask on Sunday ... and was the best performer on the court. Gortat's 20 came on 8-13 against an excellent defender in Tyson Chandler; his 15 rebounds and three blocks were also superlative.

The loss almost kills Phoenix's playoff hopes (which were dying anyways). Vince Carter came off the bench for the first time this season; the Mavericks are sticking with their own veteran guard, Jason Kidd, in the starting lineup despite recent struggles. He rewarded Rick Carlisle by hitting two big three-pointers in the final minute and change to clinch the win.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 15 on 6-19 shooting as Grant Hill (!) defended him well.

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Spurs Vs. Grizzlies: Memphis Bullies San Antonio, Potentially Foreshadowing NBA Playoffs Matchup

If there was any question the San Antonio Spurs desperately need Tim Duncan to maintain dominance of the Western Conference, let Sunday's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies answer that. The Spurs' prospective first-round opponent bullied their way around on offense to take a 111-104 win; Memphis has certainly learned how to win without Rudy Gay, and now has back-to-back victories over the Celtics and Spurs. George Hill scored 30 off the bench for San Antonio, but Memphis' starting five vastly outplayed that of the Spurs.

Zach Randolph and Tony Allen had 23 each, with the former Celtic doing his damage on 9-10 shooting. As a team the Grizzlies shot 54 percent, and had 13 offensive rebounds in 30 opportunities. Memphis is a good rebounding team, but so are the (healthy) Spurs, and the inability of Antonio McDyess, Tiago Splitter and Richard Jefferson to seal off the defensive glass was painful.

Duncan would certainly make a huge difference if the teams do meet in the first round of the NBA playoffs; he's expected to return soon. Memphis went 2-2 against San Antonio this season, with the home team winning every game. Can the Grizzlies steal one in the playoffs? Two? Can they give us a series?

In other action:

Thunder 99, Blazers 90: The Thunder survived Gerald Wallace's 40-point barrage to clinch a playoff bid. Hurrah! Russell Westbrook scored 28, hitting four of five three-pointers. Kevin Durant had five blocks and three steals.

Celtics 85, Wolves 82: Boston's offense is in a really, really bad way right now. Shooting 40 percent against Minnesota is inexcusable. Paul Pierce (who struggled early) had to bail the Celtics out late in the fourth.

Heat 125, Rockets 119: Defense was the issue for Miami, who gave up 68 to Houston in the first half. The Heat defense settled in as the game wore on, and the offense was never a problem: each of the three All-Stars hit the 30-point mark. The Rockets are the new Suns.

Kings 114, Sixers 111 (OT): Sacramento dealt a blow to Philadelphia's dreams of catching the Hawks for the No. 5 seed. Marcus Thornton had 28 in the second half (19 in the third quarter) as the Kings hung around and eventually won it in overtime. DeMarcus Cousins had a hand in 11 of the Kings' 14 overtime points.

Hawks 99, Cavaliers 83: Atlanta had no problem handling the Cavs. Marvin Williams scored 31, three times his current scoring average.

Warriors 114, Wizards 104: Golden State survived a monster game from JaVale McGee (28 points, 18 rebounds, five blocks) as David Lee himself went large (33 points, 12 rebounds) and Monta Ellis went nuts (37 points, 13 assists) in playing all 48 minutes. Why is a veteran guard playing all 48 minutes for a team 10 games under .500, with no shot at the playoffs, in the last week of March? Good question!

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