From Jason Kidd's return to Dallas to Kevin Garnett's return to the lineup, it was an eventful day in the NBA.
And it was only a warm-up for Wednesday.
Shaquille O'Neal is expected to make his Phoenix debut, against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers no less. The teams are separated by only a game atop the Pacific Division and don't like each other, and who doesn't get fired up when there's a new chapter in the Kobe-Shaq tale?
Kobe Bryant, that's who.
``I do not care about that, for the last time,'' Bryant said Tuesday after the Lakers' 122-93 victory over Atlanta. ``Phoenix is at a level we're trying to get to. Even though they changed their team a little bit by trading Shawn (Marion), they're still one of the top teams in the league. So it's a big challenge for us, and I'm interested to see how we stack up.''
s and Mavs believe they've done.
``There's no bigger reward than to have that championship trophy in your hand,'' said Kidd, who lost in the NBA finals twice with the Nets. ``That's why I'm here. Because Dallas has its eye on that prize.''
In other games, it was: New York 113, Washington 100 in overtime; Houston 93, Cleveland 85; Orlando 103, Detroit 85; Minnesota 104, Philadelphia 88; San Antonio 85, Charlotte 65; Denver 124, Boston 118; Utah 119, Golden State 109; Seattle 108, Memphis 101; and Sacramento 105, Portland 94.
Bryant and Pau Gasol each scored 23 points before sitting out the fourth quarter of Gasol's first home game with the Lakers. Los Angeles coasted after building a 41-point lead late in the first half, giving Bryant a chance to rest his dislocated right pinkie.
Mike Bibby, who visits his old Sacramento mates Wednesday, managed only just five points and three assists in his Hawks debut. Atlanta has lost five straight and six in a row on the road.
In Denver, Garnett returned after missing nine games with an abdominal strain, but the Celtics fell 124-118 in their first loss in 17 games against West teams this season. Garnett wasn't sharp, finishing with four points and eight rebounds.
``But you have to expect that when he sits out that long,'' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. ``He was rusty.''
Not to mention winded in the Mile High City altitude, but Garnett said his legs felt good and he plans to play Wednesday at Golden State.
``It feels like I've been out for a couple of years,'' he said. ``There wasn't a lot of air out there.''
Rockets 93, Cavaliers 85
Rafer Alston scored 22 points, Yao Ming added 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Houston tied a team record with its ninth straight road win.
LeBron James, who won his second All-Star MVP in three years on Sunday in New Orleans, finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for Cleveland. It was his fifth triple-double this season and career No. 15.
Magic 103, Pistons 85
Rashard Lewis scored 20 points, reserve Keith Bogans added 19 and Orlando ended Detroit's 10-game winning streak.
Rodney Stuckey led the hosts with 16 points.
Jazz 119, Warriors 109
Deron Williams had 29 points and 12 assists, and Utah overcame a shaky first quarter to complete a sweep of the season series against the visiting Warriors.
All-Star Carlos Boozer had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Mehmet Okur also had a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards. Andrei Kirilenko added 18 points for the Jazz, who have won 13 of 14.
Knicks 113, Wizards 100, OT
Zach Randolph had 24 points and 10 rebounds, Jamal Crawford added 21 points and the Knicks broke a franchise record by scoring 23 points in overtime.
Antawn Jamison had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Wizards, who have lost nine of 10.
Spurs 85, Bobcats 65
Manu Ginobili scored 18 points to lead the Spurs in their first home game in more than three weeks. San Antonio went 6-3 on its road trip.
Raymond Felton led Charlotte with 19 points, Jason Richardson added 13 and Nazr Mohammed scored 12.
SuperSonics 108, Grizzlies 101
Earl Watson scored a season-high 26 points and Wally Szczerbiak had 24, including the go-ahead score with 31 seconds remaining, as the host Sonics won without flu-ridden rookie star Kevin Durant.
Rudy Gay scored 23 points and Hakim Warrick had 22 for the Grizzlies, who lost their 10th consecutive road game and are 1-6 since trading star Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 1.
Kings 105, Trail Blazers 94
Ron Artest scored 24 points, Francisco Garcia added 23, and Sacramento snapped a three-game losing streak by beating Portland.
Travis Outlaw had 23 points for the flat Blazers, who lost their fifth straight overall and fell to 20-7 at the Rose Garden.
Timberwolves 104, 76ers 88
Reserve Rashad McCants scored 20 points, Al Jefferson had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Minnesota snapped a five-game losing streak.
The 76ers had won five straight, all at home, but struggled defensively back on the road. Andre Iguodala led them with 17 points.

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