Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Dwight Howard scored 19 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to lead the Lakers past the Suns. Meanwhile, LeBron James made NBA history in a Heat victory over the Blazers.
Lakers 91, Suns 85
After a nine-point third quarter, the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves in danger of losing to the Phoenix Suns for the second time in two weeks. But the Lakers (25-28) dominated play in the the fourth to grab a 91-85 victory. Dwight Howard helped put the nail in the coffin with two straight buckets late, capping off a 19-point, 18-rebound performance.
Los Angeles got off to a fantastic start on offense, scoring 30 points in the first quarter and 56 in the first half. Kobe Bryant did not attempt a single shot before the break, choosing instead to facilitate. Bryant would finish the evening with just four points on 1-of-8 shooting, but he did rack up nine assists.
The Suns (17-36) stormed back in the third quarter, outscoring the Lakers 24-9 in the frame and taking a six-point lead into the final quarter. But Los Angeles started the fourth on a 16-4 run and never looked back.
Michael Beasley, who torched the Lakers on Jan. 30, had another strong game for Phoenix, scoring 18 points off the bench. Jermaine O'Neal also played well off the bench, notching a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Luis Scola had a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) in the losing effort.
Heat 117, Blazers 104
LeBron James continues to play some of the best basketball this league has ever seen. James scored 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting in the Miami Heat's 117-104 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, becoming the first player in NBA history to score 30 points in six straight games while shooting over 60 percent in each of those games.
James got plenty of help from his cohorts, as Chris Bosh had 32 points and 11 rebounds and Dwyane Wade had 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. For the game, the "Big Three" had 86 points, 26 rebounds and 20 assists on 32-of-49 shooting. The Heat (35-14) shot 58.1 percent for the game.
Miami was in a bit of trouble in the first half, going down by as many as 14 toward the end of the second quarter. But the Heat finished the half on a 15-2 run and went on to control play throughout the second half.
The Blazers (25-27) did get some dynamite performances in the loss. Rookie sensation Damian Lillard had 33 points on 10-of-18 shooting, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points on 13-of-20 from the field.
Raptors 109, Nuggets 108
Rudy Gay has struggled with his shot at times since coming over to the Toronto Raptors from the Memphis Grizzlies. But Gay has hit a few big ones when they have really mattered. The forward hit his second game-winner in three games for the Raptors (20-32), beating the Denver Nuggets, 109-108.
Gay scored 13 points in the first quarter, but was shut down for pretty much the rest of the game until he provided his late-game heroics on a pull-up jumper with less than five seconds left. Gay finished the night with 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting. DeMar DeRozan had 22 points and eight rebounds to lead Toronto.
Ty Lawson had 29 points and nine assists for the Nuggets (33-20). Denver has now lost two straight since winning nine in a row.
Rockets 116, Warriors 107
Not many teams have been able to slow the Houston Rockets' prolific offense of late. The Golden State Warriors have had an especially tough time of it. A week after scoring 140 points and tying the NBA record for most threes in a game with 23 against the Warriors, the Rockets lit up the scoreboard again in a 116-107 victory in Golden State.
Seven Rockets (29-25) scored in double figures, led by James Harden's 27 points. Harden only shot 7-of-22 on the night, but he made 11-of-11 from the line. Chandler Parsons flirted with a triple-double with 21 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Houston controlled play for much of the game after falling behind in the first quarter.
Jazz 109, Thunder 94
The Utah Jazz gave the normally dominant Oklahoma City Thunder a taste of their own medicine, winning handily, 109-94. The game went back and forth throughout much of the first half, but the Jazz (29-24) opened up a double-digit lead in the third quarter and would never let the margin get under six points the rest of the way.
Al Jefferson led a balanced scoring effort for Utah, leading six Jazz in double figures with 23 points. Paul Millsap added a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Utah dominated the boards, winning the rebounding battle 38-26 while grabbing 16 offensive rebounds in the process.
Grizzlies 108, Kings 101
After a rough start to their new era without Rudy Gay, the Memphis Grizzlies won their third straight game by defeating the Sacramento Kings, 108-101. The Grizzlies (33-18) took control of the game in the third quarter and cruised home to victory in the final frame.
Marc Gasol led the way for Memphis with a double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds. Mike Conley had 22 points and seven assists, and even Tony Allen got into the fun offensively, scoring 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. The Grizzlies shot 54.7 percent from the field.