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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lakers take care of Mavs with Bryant sidelined


LOS ANGELES — Sure, Pau Gasol and the Los Angeles Lakers are well aware a regular-season sweep means nothing compared to a playoff sweep.

News photo
Heavy traffic: Lakers guard Ramon Sessions is fouled by Mavericks guard Jason Kidd (rear) on Sunday in Los Angeles. The Lakers won in overtime 112-108. AP

The Lakers are still pleased they're controlling this rivalry with the Dallas Mavericks heading to another postseason in which they just might meet again — and they even did it without Kobe Bryant.

Andrew Bynum had 23 points and 16 rebounds, Gasol made back-to-back 3-pointers in overtime, and the Lakers won their fourth straight game without the NBA's leading scorer, 112-108 over the Mavericks on Sunday.

Ramon Sessions scored 22 points, and Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds as Los Angeles rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit before finishing off a four-game season sweep of the defending champions, who swept the two-time champion Lakers out of last season's playoffs.

"This team eliminated us last year, and they're the champs right now," said Gasol, who buried his sixth and seventh 3-pointers of the season in OT. "If we face them again, I don't know if this 4-0 in the regular season will be worth a whole lot. We'll have to start over and make sure we play as hard as we've been playing lately."

Coach Mike Brown thought the Lakers put together a remarkable team effort in Bryant's absence, with everybody on the floor in overtime contributing a key play. Matt Barnes' cagey defense capped the OT effort against Jason Terry, who missed what should have been an easy tying layup with 5 seconds left.

With the Lakers holding the No. 3 spot in the West playoff picture and the Mavs at No. 6, both teams realize they could meet again in two weeks. The Lakers boosted their lead over the Clippers atop the Pacific Division to 1½ games with six to play. The Lakers also have the tiebreaker edge on their next-door rivals.

Heat 93, Knicks 85

In New York, Miami clinched the Southeast Division title by beating the Knicks.

Bulls 100, Pistons 94 (OT)

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Derrick Rose hit a tying 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation, and Chicago went on to win in overtime, beating Detroit for the 15th straight time.

Nuggets 101, Rockets 86

In Denver, Arron Afflalo scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half, leading the Nuggets over Houston in the opener of a crucial two games between playoff hopefuls.

Raptors 102, Hawks 86

In Atlanta, DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points to lift injury-riddled Toronto over the Hawks.

Magic 100, Cavaliers 84

In Cleveland, Orlando clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Cavaliers.

Hornets 88, Grizzlies 75

In New Orleans, the hosts upset playoff-contending Memphis.

Eric Gordon scored 18 points for the Hornets, who pulled away in the fourth quarter. Carl Landry had 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Kings 104, Trail Blazers 103

In Sacramento, Marcus Thornton scored 20 points and made the winning jumper with 3.4 seconds left, lifting the Kings over Portland.

Celtics 94, Bobcats 82

In Charlotte, Boston was able to rest its star players and still comfortably beat the Bobcats.

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