Wednesday, February 12, 2003

NBA Games


Kobe scores 42, Lakers roll on

The Associated Press

Kobe Bryant is playing his best basketball of the season, and it's an obvious coincidence that the Los Angeles Lakers are peaking, too. Bryant scored 42 points Tuesday night despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter as the Lakers defeated the overmatched Denver Nuggets 121-93 for their season-high sixth straight win.

Bryant has scored 40 or more points 10 times this season. The last Laker to accomplish such a feat was Hall of Famer Jerry West, who scored 40 or more 13 times during the 1969-70 season.

Shaquille O'Neal added 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Samaki Walker had 14 points as the Lakers (25-23) moved a season-high two games over .500. O'Neal also sat out the fourth quarter.

The three-time defending champions have won 14 of 18 games to move within a half-game of Houston in the race for the final Western Conference playoff berth. The Lakers can overtake the Rockets as soon as Wednesday if they can beat Denver on the road - combined with a loss by Houston at Utah.

Bryant has scored at least 35 in each game of the winning streak.

"Sometimes the one does it, sometimes the two does it. Right now, the one's doing it and I'm chilling out. It's all good," O'Neal said.

In other games, Utah nipped Houston 103-101 in overtime, San Antonio outlasted Portland 116-111 in overtime, Minnesota edged Dallas 100-98, Indiana topped Cleveland 107-96, Orlando defeated New Jersey 92-83, Sacramento beat Washington 99-80, Golden State nipped Atlanta 116-113, New Orleans downed Miami 78-69, the L.A. Clippers edged Phoenix 107-106, Boston beat Seattle 82-76 and Detroit defeated Chicago 89-79.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said the way Bryant is playing is comparable to the way Michael Jordan played when Jackson coached the Chicago Bulls to six championships in the 1990s.

Bryant has scored 243 points - a 40.5 average - during the winning streak. He played 31 minutes against the Nuggets, shooting 12-of-20 and making 17 of 21 free throws.

"I just feel I'm in a very good rhythm right now," he said. "It's coming pretty easy. I've been able to help our team win some games and that's been the best part.

"The past six games here, we're playing perhaps the best basketball in the league. We're the champions until somebody takes it away from us."

Jazz 103, Rockets 101, OT

At Houston, a broken nose didn't keep Karl Malone from scoring 33 points, including 14 in a fourth-quarter comeback.

Utah trailed 83-75 with 7:43 left in the game, but Malone put them in position for Matt Harpring's 3-point basket with one-tenth of a second left to tie it at 94-94 and force overtime.

Malone hit a 12-foot jumper to start the overtime and the Jazz never trailed again.

Spurs 116, Trail Blazers 111, OT

At Portland, Emmanuel Ginobili hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 42 seconds left in overtime - his only field goal of the game.

Tim Duncan had 36 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Spurs, who won their sixth in a row. Malik Rose had 21 points and 15 rebounds and Tony Parker had 22 points and eight assists.

Rasheed Wallace scored 25 points to lead the Blazers, who had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Timberwolves 100, Mavericks 98

At Minneapolis, Wally Szczerbiak made a corner jumper as the final buzzer sounded to give the Timberwolves their 10th straight home victory.

Dirk Nowitzki had 34 points and Michael Finley had all 21 of his points in the second half for Dallas, which had its four-game road winning streak snapped.

Pacers 107, Cavaliers 96

At Indianapolis, Jermaine O'Neal scored 28 points and Brad Miller had 25 as the Pacers opened the second half of the season with Ron Artest back in the lineup and coach Isiah Thomas on the sidelines.

Artest scored 11 points in his first game since Jan. 27. More importantly, he walked away from oral exchanges with Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Jumaine Jones in the final minutes.

Magic 92, Nets 83

At Orlando, Tracy McGrady had 32 points and eight rebounds and Orlando withstood a late rally.

The loss was just the second in eight games for the Nets, who won three straight going into the All-Star break.

Kings 99, Wizards 80

At Sacramento, Peja Stojakovic had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Doug Christie had 16 points and 12 rebounds as the Kings opened a seven-game homestand.

Michael Jordan, in his first game since his celebratory All-Star weekend in Atlanta, had 12 points on 5-of-19 shooting before sitting out the fourth quarter.

Warriors 116, Hawks 113

At Atlanta, Gilbert Arenas scored a career-high 37 points and made a key steal and layup with 20 seconds left. With its 22nd victory, Golden State surpassed its win total from 2001-02.

Hornets 78, Heat 69

At Miami, Jamal Mashburn had 15 points and 13 rebounds to help the Hornets to their third straight win. The Hornets' defense proved to be the difference, holding Miami to 36 percent shooting.

Clippers 107, Suns 106

At Phoenix, Elton Brand had 29 points and 11 rebounds and Quentin Richardson added had 20 as the Clippers rallied in the fourth quarter and snapped a six-game road losing streak.

Celtics 82, SuperSonics 76

At Seattle, Antoine Walker had 17 points and 12 rebounds as the Boston Celtics let a big lead slip away after Paul Pierce left in the second quarter with a minor injury.

Pistons 89, Bulls 79

At Chicago, Ben Wallace grabbed 22 rebounds and Chauncey Billups scored 20 points as Detroit gained its fifth straight victory.




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