Lakers net top seed in West
Pau Gasol had a season-high 36 points and 11 rebounds and the Los Angeles Lakers clinched the top playoff seed in the Western Conference with a 103-95 victory over the Nets last night in East Rutherford, N.J.
Shaking off some uncharacteristic poor shooting early and a sprained right ankle before halftime, Kobe Bryant scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half and added nine assists as the Lakers (58-14) won their fifth straight.
Derek Fisher added 18 points and Lamar Odom had 12 points and 11 rebounds in Phil Jackson's record-setting 728th game as the Lakers' coach.
Vince Carter had 20 for the fading Nets, who lost their third in a row. All-Star guard Devin Harris returned from a shoulder injury that sidelined him 12 days and had 13 points and 14 assists. Brook Lopez added 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Lakers had some scary moments in a game in which they nearly blew a 22-point third-quarter lead, but none was scarier than the sight of Bryant falling to the court late in the first half after colliding with Harris on a drive to the basket.
The NBA MVP lay on the court for about a minute before limping to the locker room with a sprained ankle. He started the second half and finished 5 of 19 from the field.
The Lakers played a very inconsistent game, looking focused at times and then letting up when they had the Nets on the verge of being blown out.
Magic 110, Bucks 94 - Rashard Lewis scored 19 points, Hedo Turkoglu added 18, and surging host Orlando beat Milwaukee.
Dwight Howard added 18 points and eight rebounds in another strong defensive effort for Orlando, which held Milwaukee to 39.1 percent shooting. The Magic (54-18) have won five straight and 12 of their last 14 and stayed percentage points ahead of Boston for the Eastern Conference's second seed.
Bobcats 100, 76ers 95 - Boris Diaw scored 24 points to help Charlotte keep its slim playoff hopes alive with a win in Philadelphia.
Ray Felton added 20 points for the Bobcats, who won for the first time in five road games. Charlotte (32-40) inched closer to idle Detroit (34-37) for the final playoff spot in the East.
Cavaliers 107, Timberwolves 85 - LeBron James scored 25 points and Mo Williams added 22, leading host Cleveland to its 11th straight win.
Cleveland's victory ties the franchise record for consecutive wins in a season. The Cavaliers (59-13) also won 11 straight from Nov. 22-Dec. 12 this season and have accomplished the feat four times.
Nuggets 103, Mavericks 101 - Carmelo Anthony made three free throws and a tough layup in traffic in the final 43 seconds, capping a 43-point performance that lifted visiting Denver over Jason Kidd-less Dallas.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points, but missed a go-ahead jumper with about 10 seconds left and fell after grabbing a rebound of Anthony's missed final free throw with less than a second left.
Knicks 103, Hornets 93 - Al Harrington scored 23 points, David Lee added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and New York snapped a six-game losing streak by beating visiting New Orleans.
David West scored 29 points for New Orleans, which has lost two in a row following a three-game winning streak.
Spurs 111, Clippers 98 - Tony Parker scored 18 points and host San Antonio celebrated having its big three together for the first time in six weeks by drubbing weary Los Angeles.
Grizzlies 113, Kings 95 - Marc Gasol scored 27 points and Memphis won in Sacramento for the first time in 11 years.
Raptors 112, Thunder 96 - Chris Bosh had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Shawn Marion added 20 points and 11 rebounds as host Toronto beat Oklahoma City.