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Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012

Gasol saves day for L.A. with game-ending block


BOSTON — Paul Pierce's shot rimmed out in the final seconds of overtime, and Pau Gasol knew the game wasn't over yet. The ball bounced to Ray Allen, who gave it a two-handed push back toward the basket.

News photo
Fired up: Suns coach Alvin Gentry reacts to a call during the first half of Thursday's game against the Rockets in Phoenix. Houston defeated Phoenix 96-89. AP

"That shot that Ray Allen took was good, in my opinion," Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown said. "But Pau did not stop playing until he heard the horn, and he came up with the big block."

Gasol had 25 points, 14 rebounds and a key block of Allen's putback attempt at the overtime buzzer Thursday night and the Lakers held on to beat the Celtics 88-87. Kobe Bryant scored 27 points and Andrew Bynum had 16 points and 17 boards for Los Angeles, which snapped a two-game losing streak.

Allen scored 22 points and Kevin Garnett had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Boston, which had won five in a row and nine of its previous 10 games. But Garnett was 6-for-23 from the field and Pierce was 7-for-18, including a clean-look jumper at the end of overtime.

It went right to Allen. He tried to push the rebound in, but Gasol got his fingertips on it and it floated away as the buzzer sounded.

"I was in the perfect position," Allen said, "and he came out of nowhere."

Gasol also made a smart play in the fourth quarter, when the 211-cm Garnett lined up for a jump ball against 185-cm Derek Fisher. Gasol read the play and the Lakers wound up with the ball.

But the block at the end of the game clinched it.

"I've been in situations before in my career where you freeze . . . catch yourself looking at the ball and end up losing the game," Gasol said.

The Lakers had lost six of their last seven games on the road.

But a trip to Boston to play the rival Celtics was just what they needed.

Both teams shot under 40 percent, and they each missed twice to start the overtime before Bryant sank a jumper that gave Los Angeles an 84-82 lead with 3:30 left. Allen missed, then Steve Blake made a jumper to give the Lakers a four-point lead — their biggest of the game.

Pierce made a jumper and, after Gasol missed, Pierce hit a 3-pointer over Metta World Peace to make it 87-86 Boston. Bryant missed, but Bynum tipped it in with 1:30 left to give L.A. the lead, and it held up.

"I thought this was an awful game," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "If we had won, it would have been an awful game that we won. Give them credit: A lot of that was defense. But I thought a lot of it was self-inflicted."

Pierce finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. He had the ball in his hands with a chance to win the game at the end of regulation and again in overtime — the first time he picked up his dribble and got trapped with Allen open in the corner, and the second time his shot rimmed out.

"One of them I didn't make the pass," he said, "the other I missed the shot."

Warriors 109, Nuggets 101

In Denver, Stephen Curry scored a season-best 36 points and Golden State handed fading Denver its fifth straight loss, the Nuggets' longest losing streak in five seasons.

Denver has dropped seven of eight games overall.

Klay Thompson added 19 points, Dorrell Wright had 15 and Monta Ellis 14 for the Warriors, who snapped a two-game skid and posted just their third win in nine road games.

Arron Afflalo led the Nuggets with 26 points.

Rockets 96, Suns 89

In Phoenix, Luis Scola scored 16 points, and Patrick Patterson added 14 to help Houston beat the Suns.

Chase Budinger and Kyle Lowry each scored 12 points, and the Rockets used a 57-13 edge in scoring from their backups to win their third straight and fourth in five games.

Channing Frye scored a season-high 21 points, and Marcin Gortat added 16 for the Suns, who had won a season-high three straight games. Veteran guard Steve Nash, selected to his eighth All-Star game earlier Thursday, scored 14 points on 7-for-7 shooting and had 13 assists.

Kings 106, Thunder 101

In Sacramento, Tyreke Evans scored 22 points, DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and nine rebounds and the Kings rallied to beat Oklahoma City, dropping the Thunder to second overall in the NBA.

Russell Westbrook scored 33 points, and Kevin Durant added 27 for the Western Conference-leading Thunder, at 20-6 a game behind Chicago for the overall lead.

Marcus Thornton added 15 points for Sacramento, Jason Thompson had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Donte Greene scored 10 points.

James Harden scored 17 points for the Thunder, 11-5 on the road. Serge Ibaka tied his career high with 10 blocks, and added nine rebounds. His block total was one short of the Sacramento arena record of 11 set by David Robinson of San Antonio.

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