|Spurs win 10th straight, Bryant's strong finish keeps Lakers right behind|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 05 March 2008 02:28|
The Lakers offer more thrills, since Kobe Bryant can do something spectacular at any moment.
Can't argue with either team's formula right now.
Tim Duncan had 29 points and 12 rebounds for his 37th double-double of the season, and the Spurs overcame their offensive struggles to beat the New Jersey Nets 81-70 on Tuesday night for their 10th straight victory.
``It's not pretty the way they play, but they get it done,'' New Jersey guard Devin Harris said.
The Spurs shot just 34 percent, but that was good enough to keep them percentage points ahead of the Lakers for first place in the Western Conference.
``Defensively we weren't very good. Our focus was a little down,'' Duncan said. ``We got over the hump. We didn't shoot the ball well. We did well enough to win the game.''
So did the Lakers, thanks to Bryant. He scored 17 of his 34 points in an electric fourth-quarter performance, and Pau Gasol added 31 points in Los Angeles' 12th victory in 13 games, 117-105 over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
``He really stepped it up, really took it to the hole, really took it personally,'' said Gasol, who never won in Sacramento during all his years with Memphis. ``We know what he's capable of doing. I know he can take over games. He's so gifted athletically and skill-wise. He's got a tremendous passion inside him. The way he attacked tonight, it was the kind of effort we need every night.''
In other games, it was: Orlando 102, Toronto 87; Golden State 135, Atlanta 118; Detroit 100, Seattle 97; Charlotte 109, Minnesota 89; Chicago 112, Memphis 97; and Phoenix 97, Portland 92.
Lamar Odom added 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who held the Kings scoreless for 4:07 during the fourth as Bryant rained in jumpers and free throws. Los Angeles scored 14 straight points in the span.
Kevin Martin and Ron Artest scored 23 points apiece for the Kings, who lost for the fifth time in six games despite 3 1/2 solid quarters against their longtime nemeses. Brad Miller added 14 points and 12 rebounds while leading Sacramento's physical defensive plan against Bryant and the Lakers.
Getting tough nearly worked - but Kobe just got tougher.
``Kobe is a great player down the stretch, and that's why he's on that level,'' Kings coach Reggie Theus said. ``Tough loss. We outplayed them for 40, 42 minutes. ... The Lakers did a good job in the last few minutes of locking down defensively. That's why they are who they are.''
Suns 97, Trail Blazers 92
At Portland, Ore., Amare Stoudemire scored 22 points and Phoenix fought off a late surge to snap a two-game losing streak. Shaquille O'Neal finished with six points and 13 rebounds.
Brandon Roy had 25 points for Portland, which has lost five of its last seven with hopes for the playoffs slipping away.
Warriors 135, Hawks 118
Baron Davis scored 35 points and Stephen Jackson had 29 to lead the Warriors to their fourth straight victory and 17th in 23 games.
The Warriors, who lead the NBA in scoring, set their season high for points. Golden State improved to 16-12 on the road, its most victories away from Oakland since 1993-94.
Joe Johnson had 38 points for the Hawks, losers of two straight and 10 of 13.
Magic 102, Raptors 87
At Orlando, Fla., Hedo Turkoglu scored 24 points, and Dwight Howard overcame a slow start to collect 19 points and 14 rebounds.
T.J. Ford scored 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter for Toronto, which played again without injured All-Star Chris Bosh. Anthony Parker added 19 points and nine rebounds and Jose Calderon scored 14 points, but the Raptors lost their third straight.
Rashard Lewis scored 22 for Orlando and Jameer Nelson added 13.
Bobcats 109, Timberwolves 89
Jason Richardson had 25 points and eight rebounds, Emeka Okafor added 19 points and 11 boards, and Charlotte snapped a nine-game road losing streak.
Matt Carroll scored 18 points for the Bobcats, who won for just the fifth time on the road this season and first since a 107-100 victory over the Clippers on Jan. 28. They lost those games by an average of 18.7 points, but had a relatively easy time in chilly Minnesota.
Al Jefferson had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves.
Pistons 100, SuperSonics 97
At Auburn Hills, Mich., Tayshaun Prince scored 24 points, Chauncey Billups added 20 points and nine assists, and the Pistons overcame a slow start.
Seattle shot 82 percent in the first quarter on its way to a 41-28 lead, but that fell to 32 percent in the final three periods as the SuperSonics lost for the fifth time in six games. The Pistons have won five of six and have defeated the Sonics seven straight times.
Richard Hamilton scored 18 for Detroit. Earl Watson had 23 for Seattle, while Chris Wilcox and Kevin Durant added 20 apiece.
Bulls 112, Grizzlies 97
At Chicago, Drew Gooden and Luol Deng scored 21 points apiece, and the Bulls extended the Grizzlies' losing streak to nine.
Gooden had his best game since the Bulls acquired him from Cleveland in a three-team trade, hitting 10 of 15 shots and grabbing 14 rebounds.
Kyle Lowry scored 24 for Memphis, which is on its longest losing streak since an 0-13 start in 2002-03 and has dropped 15 of 16.