|Lakers win ninth straight behind Kobe Bryant|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 27 February 2008 00:43|
Why shouldn't Bryant be thrilled by the performance of the Los Angeles Lakers, who won their ninth straight game Tuesday night, dispatching the undermanned Portland Trail Blazers? He had 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while second-year backup point guard Jordan Farmar tied a career high with 21 points.
The Lakers lead the Western Conference by one game over San Antonio and Phoenix and are 40-17, just two wins behind last season's total with 25 games to play.
``We have, in my estimation, the best bench in the league,'' Bryant said. ``Guys come in and do an extremely good job of playing, moving the basketball, knocking down shots and just playing extremely well.''
Elsewhere in the NBA on Tuesday, it was Houston 94, Washington 89; Minnesota 111, Utah 100; Miami 107, Sacramento 86; Phoenix 127, Memphis 113; Milwaukee 105, Cleveland 102; Golden State 105, Seattle 99; and Orlando 102, New Jersey 92.
Pau Gasol had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Los Angeles. Like every Laker, he has benefited from Bryant's presence.
``The real value of a super player is that he makes other players better,'' coach Phil Jackson said. ``You can see the apparent emphasis of Kobe's game to get other people involved and make the rest of his team better.''
LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 24 points and Joel Pryzbilla tied a season high with 16 rebounds. The Blazers have lost eight of their past nine and 15 of 22, following a 17-1 surge. They were without injured All-Star Brandon Roy.
Rockets 94, Wizards 69
At Houston, in their first game without Yao Ming, the Rockets earned their 13th straight victory.
Yao is out for the season with a stress fracture in his left foot. The Rockets didn't seem to miss their All-Star center, jumping to a 7-0 lead and never trailing as they coasted to their 17th win in the past 18 games. The streak is their longest since their championship season of 1993-94, and the longest active streak in the NBA.
Houston started 41-year-old Dikembe Mutombo in place of Yao, but also used the 6-foot-9 Carl Landry in the spot.
The Wizards were doomed by a first half in which they managed a franchise-low 23 points and couldn't dig themselves out of a 28-point halftime deficit. Their 69 points were a season-low and they made just 26 of 83 shots.
Timberwolves 111, Jazz 100
At Minneapolis, Al Jefferson and Rashad McCants both scored 22 points, while Randy Foye added a season-high 20 for the Timberwolves. Minnesota forced 24 turnovers and held the Jazz to 6-for-21 shooting in the final quarter to get its first win against the Northwest Division.
Carlos Boozer had 34 points and Deron Williams finished with 18 points and nine assists for the Jazz. Mehmet Okur had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Heat 107, Kings 86
At Miami, the Heat broke an 11-game losing streak as Shawn Marion scored 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting and Udonis Haslem added 17. Dwyane Wade finished with 15 points and nine assists for the Heat, who won for just the second time in their past 28 games - and did so in style, with their largest margin of the season in their first win since trading Shaquille O'Neal to Phoenix.
Miami held Sacramento to 10 percent shooting (2-for-20) in the third quarter, a Heat franchise record.
Spencer Hawes scored 16 points, while Ron Artest and Kevin Martin each finished with 14 for the Kings, whose starters were outscored 80-48 by Miami's first five.
Suns 127, Grizzlies 113
At Memphis, Tenn., Steve Nash had 25 points and 13 assists and Shaq added 13 points to go along with 11 rebounds. The recently acquired O'Neal had his best game as a Sun. Despite not playing the fourth quarter, O'Neal got his first double-double since joining the Phoenix lineup Feb. 20.
Amare Stoudemire scored 25 points for the Suns and Grant Hill had 23.
Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with a career-high 36 points. Hakim Warrick scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Bucks 105, Cavaliers 102
At Milwaukee, Michael Redd hit a winning 3-pointer at the final horn.
LeBron James had just hit a tying layup with 5.9 seconds left when Redd launched a 27-foot shot from the left side that sailed through the basket with 0.1 seconds remaining. After a replay review, officials ruled the shot good and the game over.
Mo Williams scored a season-high 37 for Milwaukee.
James scored 35 for the Cavaliers, who struggled to integrate the four new players they obtained in a recent blockbuster trade. Cleveland was playing its second game with new additions Ben Wallace, Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak and Joe Smith, obtained in an 11-player, three-team trade Feb. 21.
Warriors 105, SuperSonics 99
At Oakland, Calif., Monta Ellis scored 30 points and Austin Croshere added 14 in the decisive third quarter without missing a shot. Baron Davis had 20 points, 10 assists and seven steals for the Warriors, who stumbled to another poor start against a bottom-dwelling opponent before Ellis and Croshere took charge.
Stephen Jackson returned from a two-game absence with a sprained ankle to score 17 points for the Warriors.
Kevin Durant scored 21 points and fellow rookie Jeff Green had a career-high 21 for the Sonics.
Magic 102, Nets 92
Hedo Turkoglu scored 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and the visiting Magic won their third straight game. Rashard Lewis added 25 points, and slam dunk champion Dwight Howard had his 50th double-double of the season (17 points, 10 rebounds) as Orlando ran its streak of 100-point games to nine.
Vince Carter had 26 points and Richard Jefferson 20 for New Jersey, which is 2-2 since trading star point guard Jason Kidd to Dallas in an eight-player deal on Feb. 19.