SCOREBOARD
Saturday, March 7
Oklahoma City at New Orleans (8 p.m. EST). The Thunder have won three in a row for the first time this season, all of them without top scorer Kevin Durant, while the Hornets are riding a season-best six-game win streak.

STARS
Friday
-Dwyane Wade, Heat, had 42 points, eight assists and six rebounds in Miami's 108-102 victory over Toronto. The NBA's leading scorer topped 40 points for the fourth time in seven games.
-Deron Williams, Jazz, had 25 points and 11 assists, his 11th straight game with 10 or more, helping Utah rally from a 19-point deficit to beat Denver 97-91 and extend its winning streak to 10 games.
-Dwight Howard, Magic, had 26 points and 15 rebounds to help Orlando rally to beat the New Jersey Nets 105-102.
-Paul Pierce, Celtics, scored 29 points to lead Boston to a 105-94 victory over Cleveland.
-Ben Gordon, Bulls, scored 34 points, including 21 in the first half of Chicago's 117-102 win over Milwaukee.
-Aaron Brooks, Rockets, scored a career-high 30 points and drove past Shaquille O'Neal for the winning basket in Houston's 116-112 win over the Phoenix Suns.

REEPING CLOSER
Boston tightened the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage through the conference finals with a 105-94 victory over Cleveland. The Cavaliers (48-13) lead Boston (49-14) in winning percentage .787 to .778, though the Celtics took the lead in the head-to-head tiebreaker, 2-1, with an April 12 game in Cleveland remaining.

BIRTHDAY BOY
Shaquille O'Neal scored 17 points on his 37th birthday, but Phoenix lost 116-112 to Houston on Friday night and slipped three games behind Dallas in the race for the No. 8 playoff spot in the West. Earlier in the day, Suns coach Alvin Gentry presented O'Neal with a chocolate birthday cake after the shootaround, and Goran Dragic sang ``Happy Birthday'' in his native Slovenian.

MOVING ON UP
Kobe Bryant's second basket of the game late in the second quarter of the Lakers' 110-90 victory over Minnesota allowed him to pass Robert Parish for 18th on the NBA's career scoring list, and he now has 23,354 points. Parish achieved his 23,334 points over 21 seasons, while Bryant is in his 12th year.

SHOOTING WOES
.

STREAKS
Charlotte used a near-perfect first quarter to build a big lead and beat the Atlanta Hawks 98-91 on Friday night for its franchise record-tying fifth straight victory. ... The resurgent Detroit Pistons won their fourth straight by routing short-handed Golden State 108-91.

FIGHTING HAWKS
Atlanta played the entire second half of its 98-91 loss at Charlotte on Friday night without power forward Josh Smith, who got into a heated exchange with coach Mike Woodson at halftime that could be heard in the hallway outside the locker room. Neither Smith nor Woodson commented on the incident after the game.

SIDELINED
Milwaukee's Luke Ridnour hurt his right thumb early in the fourth quarter of the Bucks' 117-102 loss at Chicago after he was bumped and didn't return to the game. He broke the thumb last month. ... Golden State leading rebounder Andris Biedrins didn't play in a loss to Detroit because of personal reasons. The Warriors were also without G Monta Ellis (left ankle stiffness) and F Brandon Wright (partial dislocation of his left shoulder).

SPEAKING
all love to experience. I've been experience it for a couple of games now. I just hope when it dies down, it doesn't die down too bad.'' - Dwyane Wade, after he scored 42 points in Miami's 108-102 victory over Toronto, his fourth 40-point game in his last seven outings.
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