SCOREBOARD
Friday, March 21
Toronto at Cleveland (7:30 p.m. EDT). The Raptors held the Heat to 54 points on Wednesday night.

STARS
Thursday
- Kobe Bryant, Lakers, scored 27 points and Los Angeles beat Utah 106-95.
- Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Celtics. Pierce had 22 points and a season-high 13 rebounds and Garnett added 20 points and 13 boards in a 94-90 win at Dallas.
- Tim Duncan, Spurs, turned in a 22-point, 10-rebound performance to help San Antonio defeat Chicago 102-80.

SWEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS
Boston beat Dallas 94-90 on Thursday night, completing an impressive sweep in the Lone Star State. The Celtics become the first team to go 3-0 in San Antonio, Houston and Dallas since Sacramento in November 2001. Boston, which swept the season series for the first time since 1993-94, ended a seven-game losing streak in Dallas, last winning there on March 18, 2000.

OUR-TAH
The Los Angeles Lakers ended Utah's 19-game home winning streak with a 106-95 victory over the Jazz on Thursday night. Utah, which hadn't lost at home since Boston won 104-98 on Dec. 29, had tied the longest home streak in franchise history, set from Jan. 19-March 29, 1996 and again from Dec. 13, 1989 to March 3, 1990. Los Angeles had lost six of its last eight games at Utah, including a 120-96 defeat on Nov. 30.

STRONG IN DEFEAT
Dirk Nowitzki topped Dallas with 22 points and 19 rebounds, but the Mavericks fell to Boston 94-90 on Thursday night. ... Deron Williams had 26 points and 12 assists to lead all five Jazz starters scored in double figures, but Utah failed to extend its 19-game home winning streak, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers 106-95.

SPEAKING
``The first seed could be the eighth and the eighth seed is as good as the first and that's no exaggeration. None of us is better than the other. So the seeds are really irrelevant this season more than any other time.'' - San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich on the balance of the Western Conference after the defending NBA champs avoided their first five-game losing streak since the 1996-97 season with a 102-80 win over Chicago Thursday night.
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