NBA scores: Lakers nab key victory over Spurs, Knicks clinch East's No. 2 seed

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers moved closer to securing a playoff berth with a key victory over the Spurs. Out in New York, the Knicks clinched the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a win over the Pacers.

Lakers 91, Spurs 86

In their first game without Kobe Bryant after he tore his Achilles, the Los Angeles Lakers moved one step closer to a playoff berth with a 91-86 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. With the win, the Lakers now sit 1½ games ahead of the Utah Jazz for the No.8 seed in the Western Conference.

In Bryant's absence, Dwight Howard stepped up in a big way with 26 points and 17 rebounds. Steve Blake came through with an excellent performance as well, pouring in 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Off the bench, Antawn Jamison had 15 points, with nine of those coming during a stretch in the fourth quarter that saw the veteran nail three-straight three-pointers.

Jamison's run helped spark the Lakers' offense, which had been struggling for much of the night. After heading into the fourth quarter tied, 61-61, Los Angeles (44-37) opened up an 11-point lead with 4:00 to go before holding on in the end. The Spurs (58-22) cut that margin to four and had several chances to make it even closer, but they were unable to take advantage of the opportunities.

Even with the high-scoring fourth quarter, the shooting numbers for both teams ended up pretty woeful. The Lakers won despite shooting just 36.5 percent from the field and 9-of-27 from three. That's because the Spurs managed just 37.1 percent shooting and made only 6-of-18 from three.

Tim Duncan had 23 points and ten rebounds for San Antonio. Tony Parker had one of his worst games of the season, scoring just four points on 1-of-10 shooting.

Knicks 90, Pacers 80

The New York Knicks clinched the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 90-80 win over the third-seeded Indiana Pacers. Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points on 9-of-23 shooting.

The Knicks (53-27) started quickly, running out to a 23-15 lead after the first quarter. New York pushed that lead out to as many as 18 points in the second before Indiana (49-31) got it to within seven at halftime. The Pacers cut that deficit to five coming right out of the break, but they would not get any closer the rest of the way.

In addition to Anthony's 25 points, the Knicks got key contributions from Chris Copeland and J.R. Smith off the bench. Copeland had 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, while Smith added 15 points and eight rebounds. The Knicks made 11 three-pointers for the game, which helped make up for a serious disadvantage on the boards. New York also forced 26 Indiana turnovers.

The Pacers have now lost four of their last five games as they scuffle down the stretch. Lance Stephenson had 22 points and David West had 17, but Paul George and Roy Hibbert combined for just 13.

Heat 105, Bulls 93

The Miami Heat exacted some revenge on the Chicago Bulls for ending their 27-game winning streak in March, rolling to a 105-93 win in a game that featured 57 fouls and 72 free throw attempts.

LeBron James led the Heat (64-16) with 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Dwyane Wade added 22 points, and Chris Andersen had arguably his best performance of the year with 15 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Miami shot 51.4 percent from the field.

The Bulls - once again extremely short-handed without Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Richard Hamilton - fought valiantly, coming back from an early double-digit deficit to actually take a brief lead in the second half. But Chicago (43-37) simply could not sustain enough offense, as they shot just 35.4 percent for the game. The only reason the Bulls kept things somewhat close was their 11 three-pointers.

Carlos Boozer had 16 points and 20 rebounds, but he made just 5-of-14 shots. Luol Deng led Chicago with 19 points.

Raptors 93, Nets 87

DeMar DeRozan scored 36 points and Rudy Gay added 26 as the Toronto Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets, 93-87. It was the third-straight victory for the Raptors (32-48), who are closing this disappointing season on a high note.

On the other side, the Nets (47-33) missed a golden opportunity to get to within one game of the Indiana Pacers for the No. 3 seed. Instead, Brooklyn will likely have to settle for the No. 4 seed. Deron Williams finished with 30 points and seven assists, but he got little help from his teammates, as the Nets shot just 40.5 percent overall.

Rockets 121, Kings 100

James Harden scored 23 of his 29 points in the first half to lead the Houston Rockets to an easy 121-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Jeremy Lin added 15 points, while Omer Asik notched a double-double with ten points and 12 rebounds. The Rockets (45-35) led by 18 at halftime and cruised to victory, shooting 54.2 percent overall and knocking down 14 three-pointers.

Travis Outlaw had 15 points off the bench to lead the Kings (28-58). DeMarcus Cousins picked up his 16th technical foul and is now facing a suspension, but there's a good chance that the technical will be rescinded. Cousins struggled to the tune of just eight points on 3-of-9 shooting.

Nuggets 118, Trail Blazers 109

Andre Iguodala nearly had a triple-double with 28 points, nine assists and seven rebounds as the Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 118-109. Nuggets rookie Evan Fournier put forth his best effort of the season, scoring 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Denver (55-25) led by 16 after one quarter and never trailed the rest of the way.

Damian Lillard continued his excellent rookie campaign, scoring 30 points and handing out six assists. The only negative of his game was his eight turnovers, part of 21 Blazers (33-47) turnovers on the game. J.J. Hickson added 19 points and nine rebounds.

Mavericks 107, Hornets 89

The Dallas Mavericks led by 22 points at halftime and waltzed to a 107-89 victory over the New Orleans Hornets. Shawn Marion had 21 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 19, while both Vince Carter and Brandan Wright chipped in 16 off the bench. The Mavs (40-40) shot 52.3 percent from the field.

Ryan Anderson had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Hornets (27-54). New Orleans struggled offensively for much of the game, shooting just 37.9 percent.

76ers 91, Cavaliers 77

Dorell Wright had 15 points off the bench to help the Philadelphia 76ers get by the Cleveland Cavaliers, 91-77, in an ugly game between two teams just playing out the string. Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young all had 14 points for the Sixers (33-47), who led by 19 at halftime.

Tristan Thompson had 12 points and 12 rebounds in the loss for the Cavs (24-56). Kyrie Irving struggled mightily, scoring just four points in 18 minutes. Cleveland shot just 36.5 percent and made only 5-of-16 from three.

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