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West-leading Lakers show Mavs they have work to do
By KEN PETERS, AP Sports Writer
Mar 16, 2009 - 4:26:44 AM

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LOS ANGELES - Should the Lakers and Mavericks meet in the first round of the playoffs, it might be a short series.

Even without Kobe Bryant, the Lakers still would match up well against the Mavericks. With him, they appear to have too much balance and variety.

That edge showed in the Lakers’ 107-100 victory Sunday at Staples Center, where they’re 16-3 against Dallas since moving into the building. They’ve dominated the all-time series, home and away, 93-28.

“We match up well. We’re very versatile at the 4 and 5 position, which is key because you have to chase Dirk (Nowitzki) around,” Bryant said after scoring 28 points.

While Los Angeles already has clinched the Pacific Division and is battling Cleveland for the league’s best record, the Mavericks are scrapping for a postseason berth.

“We’re not quite solidified in there yet, so we’ve got a ways to go before we even start thinking about it,” Terry said.

Bryant led a late 12-0 run that put the Lakers back in control, and Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom all made significant contributions during the game.

Ariza scored a career-high 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Gasol made his first 10 shots, finished 12-of-13 and scored 25. Odom had 10 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Nowitzki scored 20, but was 6-of-20 from the floor.

The Lakers had taken the lead in the first quarter and were ahead by 15 midway through the third before Terry led a 21-2 run that put the Mavericks in front 95-89 with 7:13 left in the game.

Still, it was Bryant who took control down the stretch. His 3-pointer with 6:51 left ended a string of nine consecutive misses by the Lakers from behind the arc, and he made another with 3:36 remaining that ended the run with Los Angeles up 101-95.

“It’s why he’s Kobe Bryant,” Terry said. “He does things in the fourth quarter that only a few players can do.”

Suns 154, Warriors 130

At Oakland, Calif., Jason Richardson scored 31 points, Shaquille O’Neal added 26 and the Suns rang up the highest point total in the NBA this season.

Leandro Barbosa added 21 points and Matt Barnes 20 points and a career-high 11 assists as the Suns ended a five-game losing streak on the road and a four-game skid at Golden State.

Monta Ellis scored 26 points and Corey Maggette added 21 as the Warriors were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Bucks 86, Celtics 77

At Milwaukee, Charlie Villanueva scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter for the Bucks.

Kendrick Perkins scored a career-high 26 points with 12 rebounds for Boston, denied its first chance to clinch a second straight Atlantic Division crown.

Cavaliers 98, Knicks 93

At Cleveland, Mo Williams scored 23 points, LeBron James added 19 and the Cavs improved the NBA’s best home record to 29-1.

Al Harrington made five 3-pointers and scored 26 points for New York, which had its three-game winning streak stopped.

Magic 105, Jazz 87

At Orlando, Fla., Dwight Howard had 28 points and 20 rebounds and the Magic won their third straight to close within a half-game of Boston for the No. 2 seed in the East.

Carlos Boozer had 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz.

76ers 85, Heat 77

At Philadelphia, Andre Iguodala scored 21 points and the 76ers moved within two games of Miami for fifth place in the East.

Dwyane Wade, coming off a 50-point performance against Utah, was held to 18 on 8-for-21 shooting for the Heat.

Hawks 98, Trail Blazers 80

At Atlanta, Joe Johnson scored 35 points, Josh Smith had 19 points and eight rebounds, and the Hawks won their fifth straight.

Brandon Roy finished with 29 points for the Blazers, who dropped a half-game behind Denver for the Northwest Division lead.

Grizzlies 89, Pistons 84

At Auburn Hills, Mich., Mike Conley scored 20 points to help Memphis end a seven-game losing streak against Detroit.

Antonio McDyess led the Pistons with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Richard Hamilton had 14 points and 12 assists.

Raptors 110, Pacers 87

At Toronto, Andrea Bargnani scored 27 points, Chris Bosh had 15 points and 13 rebounds, and the Raptors used a big second half to snap a seven-game skid.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu scored a career-high 21 points and Jose Calderon added 15 points and 12 assists for Toronto, which had not won since a 118-110 home victory over Minnesota on Feb. 24.

Troy Murphy had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers.

Wizards 106, Kings 104

At Washington, Antawn Jamison scored 30 points to lead the Wizards, whose 16-51 record remains only marginally better than the Kings’ 14-52.

Kevin Martin scored 24 points to lead the Kings, who fell to 0-26 against the East and remained on course to become the first NBA team to go winless against the opposite conference.

Clippers 107, Nets 105

At Los Angeles, Steve Novak made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and finished with 21 points to help the Clippers snap a seven-game losing streak.

Vince Carter had a season-high 41 points along with seven rebounds and six assists for the Nets, who lost leading scorer Devin Harris to a strained left shoulder in the third quarter.

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