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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lakers show mettle in blowout victory

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Kobe Bryant agreed it might have been the Lakers' best game so far.

News photo
Showtime: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, is fouled by Spurs guard George Hill on Sunday in San Antonio. The Lakers routed the Western Conference-leading Spurs 99-83. AP PHOTO

It technically wasn't the worst for the San Antonio Spurs, though it often looked that way.

The Lakers may not catch the NBA's winningest team for the No. 1 seed in time for the playoffs, but they handed the Spurs a blunt reminder that the Western Conference is still theirs to surrender, beating San Antonio 99-83 in a blowout Sunday.

Bryant, who finished with 26 points, didn't make much of it.

"I don't think it's that big of a message that we sent today," he said.

It was the seventh straight victory for the Lakers, who are playing as well as any point this season. Coach Phil Jackson concedes that San Antonio's 6 1/2-game lead in the West may be too big to overcome with 18 games left. But the Lakers still made a few marks.

One is emphatically ending San Antonio's franchise-record home winning streak at 22 games. Another is beating the Spurs for the first time in three tries, including last month's stunning loss in Los Angeles when Antonio McDyess tipped in the game-winner at the buzzer.

Bryant, for his part, didn't show any excitement in winning this round.

"Why should I be?" he said.

Instead, Bryant sought to keep the lopsided win in perspective.

"We know we're capable of having games like this and San Antonio knows we're capable of having games like this," he said. "It just as easily could go the other way around."

Hornets 96, Cavaliers 81

In Cleveland, Chris Paul left the court on a stretcher and suffered a concussion in New Orleans' win.

The four-time All-Star lost the ball in the third quarter driving into the lane as he was defended by Ramon Sessions and Samardo Samuels. As Paul tried to retrieve the ball, he hit his forehead on Sessions' right shoulder and immediately fell to the court. Paul stayed on the floor as trainers from both teams attended to him.

Bulls 87, Heat 86

In Miami, Derrick Rose scored 27 points and Luol Deng capped an 18-point effort with two free throws that put Chicago ahead for good, as the Bulls handed the Heat their fourth straight loss.

Celtics 89, Bucks 83

In Milwaukee, Paul Pierce scored 23 points, and Kevin Garnett added 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Grizzlies 104, Mavericks 103

In Dallas, Zach Randolph made a high-arching 17-footer with 0.3 seconds left to lift Memphis over the Mavericks.

Knicks 92, Hawks 79

In Atlanta, Amare Stoudemire scored 26 points and Landry Fields added 15.

Thunder 122, Suns 118 (OT)

In Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook had 32 points and 11 assists, and James Harden matched his career high with 26 points.

76ers 125, Warriors 117 (OT)

In Philadelphia, Andre Iguodala had his second straight triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Pistons 113, Wizards 102

In Auburn Hills, Mich., Charlie Villanueva scored all of his 16 points in the second quarter to help Detroit build a lead it wouldn't relinquish in a win over Washington.

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