Lakers 103, Mavericks 99
You just knew that once Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban mentioned amnesty in the same breath as Kobe Bryant, "The Black Mamba" was going to have something special in store for the Mavs when they faced the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. And sure enough, Bryant delivered arguably his best performance of the year, putting up 38 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in a thrilling 103-99 victory.
The game swung back and forth throughout, setting up a wild fourth quarter that saw clutch play after clutch play from both sides. Even Dwight Howard was making big free throws. Bryant scored 14 of his 38 points in the fourth, outdueling Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 30 points and had several big buckets late of his own. And naturally, it was Bryant who grabbed the big rebound of a missed potential game-tying three by O.J. Mayo to salt the game away.
Bryant's biggest support came from Steve Nash, who scored a season-high 20 points on the afternoon. Nash hit 4-of-5 three pointers, including a huge one late in the fourth quarter that gave the Lakers (28-29) a four-point cushion with just under two minutes to play. Los Angeles also got some strong performances from their bench, with Antawn Jamison scoring 13 points and Jodie Meeks adding 11.
The Lakers have now won four straight and could get back to .500 for the first time since December with a win over the Denver Nuggets on Monday.
Heat 109, Cavaliers 105
LeBron James is in the midst of perhaps best stretch of his career, but on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dwyane Wade showed that he can still be the alpha dog. With James quiet in the second half, Wade stepped up in a big way, scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter and leading the Miami Heat to a 109-105 victory, their 11th straight on the year.
Wade's outburst came on the heels of a huge Cleveland comeback that saw them erase a 22-point Miami lead in the third quarter. Behind a personal 11-0 run from C.J. Miles, the Cavs (18-38) took a one-point lead into the fourth and extended that out to seven midway through the final frame. But then Wade, with the help of Shane Battier, got the Heat (40-14) back in it. It was Battier's three with 1:27 left that took the lead for good, and Wade sealed the deal with an emphatic dunk following a James miss.
Wade finished the game with 24 points, six assists and five rebounds on 11-of-22 shooting. And although James "struggled" for part of the game, scoring just three points in the fourth quarter, he still wound up with a game-high 28 points and eight assists on 11-of-19 shooting. Even when he's not at his best, James still finds a way to put up big time numbers.
Thunder 102, Bulls 72
The Oklahoma City Thunder were not at their sharpest offensively against the stout defense of the Chicago Bulls, but they did not have to be considering the Bulls could not hit the broad side of a barn. The Thunder held the Bulls to just 29.1 percent shooting in a 102-72 rout that was never really close. That 29.1 percent mark is the lowest shooting mark for any NBA team this season.
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder (41-15) with 23 points, throwing down several monster dunks in the process. Kevin Durant had just 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting, but he did grab 16 rebounds and dish out six assists. Serge Ibaka added 17 points.
For the Bulls (32-24), Luol Deng and Nate Robinson scored 13 points, but nobody else reached double figures. And topping off the miserable night, key reserve Taj Gibson sprained his left knee in the fourth quarter.
Trail Blazers 92, Celtics 86
Damian Lillard's clutch basket with 1:31 remaining pushed the Portland Trail Blazers past the Boston Celtics 92-86, ending the Blazers' (26-30) seven-game losing streak. Wesley Matthews scored 24 points and hit five three-pointers, including a dagger in the final minute.
Grizzlies 76, Nets 72
Tony Allen's two late free throws helped give the Memphis Grizzlies a hard-fought 76-72 win over the Brooklyn Nets. Zach Randolph had 16 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies (37-18), who have won seven games in a row.
Deron Williams had a game-high 24 points for the Nets (33-24), who were once again playing without Joe Johnson. Williams and a group of subs appeared to take control of the low scoring affair with a charge in the fourth quarter, but they could not come up with any crucial buckets down the stretch.
Warriors 100, Timberwolves 99
Jarrett Jack had 23 points and eight assists off the bench to rally the Golden State Warriors past the Minnesota Timberwolves . The Warriors (33-23) trailed by 14 after the first quarter, and were down by as many as nine in the fourth before coming back. Stephen Curry's jumper with 1:07 left proved to be the game-winner. David Lee added 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Derrick Williams had 23 points and 12 rebounds in the heartbreaking loss for the Timberwolves (20-33). Ricky Rubio nearly notched a triple-double, putting up 16 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and six steals. Minnesota had a chance to win the game at the buzzer, but Luke Ridnour missed.
Knicks 99, 76ers 93
Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points as the New York Knicks ended a four-game losing streak by beating the Philadelphia 76ers, 99-93. Amare Stoudemire added 22 points off the bench for the Knicks (33-20), who led comfortably throughout most of the game.
Spurs 97, Suns 87
The San Antonio Spurs had little trouble without Tony Parker, dispatching the Phoenix Suns rather easily, 97-87. Six Spurs (45-13) scored in double figures, with Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills pouring in 16 points apiece. San Antonio used a huge second quarter to blow the game open.
Hornets 110, Kings 95
Anthony Davis had 20 points and eight rebounds to lead the New Orleans Hornets to an easy 110-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson both scored 17 points for the Hornets (20-37), while Greivis Vasquez had 12 points and 13 assists.
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