Magic rally, escape Bryant, Lakers
Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 41 points, but Magic center Dwight Howard made 8 of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter, and Jameer Nelson had 27 points to beat the Lakers, 106-103, last night in Orlando, Fla.
"ESPN magazine did a story about how to defend LeBron James," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy joked. "I don't think anybody is coming to me for that gig about defending Kobe. We'd better keep winning games, so I can stay employed."
Bryant missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the game to overtime. He made 14 of 31 shots, and all 11 of his free throws.
"They had three guys over at me every time [in the second half]," Bryant said. "When I get going, they send everybody."
Orlando survived despite early foul trouble for Howard. Nelson had 15 points in the third quarter to lead the Magic back from an 9-point halftime deficit.
Rashard Lewis added 22 points for Orlando, which has won six straight home games. In the last three days the Magic beat Western Conference contenders San Antonio and Los Angeles, giving them credibility as force for the NBA title. Los Angeles, which fell to Miami Friday night, lost two straight games for the first time this season.
Warriors 110, Bobcats 103 - Jamal Crawford scored 50 points to help undermanned Golden State beat host Charlotte, giving Warriors coach Don Nelson a win in his first game with a new coaching strategy.
A night after Nelson announced he would no longer have anything to do with the Warriors' NBA-worst defense, assistant Keith Smart coached that part of the game, while Crawford provided the offense.
Rockets 109, Timberwolves 102 - Tracy McGrady scored 23 points and visiting Houston made 12 3-pointers to hand Minnesota its 12th straight loss.
Giving up 8 inches and 55 pounds to Yao Ming in the post, Al Jefferson turned it into a mismatch in Minnesota's favor with 34 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks. But it wasn't enough to stop a losing streak that matched the franchise's longest skid since a 12-gamer at the end of the 1993-94 season.
Heat 106, Nets 103 - Dwyane Wade matched his season high with 43 points to lead visiting Miami past New Jersey.
Wade, the NBA's leading scorer, scored 12 of the Heat's final 14 points.
Wade put Miami ahead to stay with a reverse layup with 1:58 remaining for a 98-97 lead. Udonis Haslem sealed the win with a jumper from the corner with 14.7 seconds left that put the Heat up by 5.
Pacers 95, 76ers 94 - T.J. Ford hit a 15-foot jumper with 3.9 seconds left and finished with 25 points as shorthanded Indiana beat host Philadelphia.
The Pacers (10-17) dressed just nine players. For the second straight game, Indiana was without starters Troy Murphy, Marquis Daniels, and Danny Granger, out with viral infections.
Suns 108, Nuggets 101 - Steve Nash scored 8 straight points in the final three minutes and Phoenix beat Denver for the eighth straight time at home.
Hornets 99, Kings 90 - Chris Paul had 34 points, 9 assists, and a season-high 8 steals as host New Orleans won for the 11th time in 13 games.
Spurs 107, Raptors 97 - Tony Parker had 24 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds, and host San Antonio matched a franchise record with 16 3-pointers.
Bulls 106, Jazz 98 - Ben Gordon scored 26 points, and Derrick Rose had 10 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to lift host Chicago past Utah.
Bucks 119, Clippers 85 - Richard Jefferson scored 22 points, and Luke Ridnour added 18 to help host Milwaukee hand Los Angeles its worst loss of the season.