Kobe Bryant sank the go-ahead three-pointer with 27 seconds left as the Los Angeles Lakers held off the shorthanded Houston Rockets 105-100 on Tuesday.
Bryant scored 33 points for the Lakers, who outscored the Rockets 27-18 in the final period to secure the win.
China’s giant center Yao Ming (姚明) scored 19 points and added 17 rebounds for the Rockets who played without National Basketball Association stars Ron Artest (right ankle) and Tracy McGrady (left knee).
Shane Battier gave Houston a brief lead 100-99 with 47 ticks remaining, when he buried a three-pointer from the left corner. Bryant then answered on the ensuing possession.
With nine seconds left, Rockets point guard Rafer Alston corralled the offensive rebound on his own missed shot and was fouled by Derek Fisher.
But the slick floor general missed two free throws and Carl Landry had the offensive board slip out of his grasp with eight ticks left.
On the other end of the floor, Lakers center Pau Gasol had his own problems at the free-throw line, making just one-of-two and giving the Rockets one last chance to tie.
Trevor Ariza scored 14 points off the bench for the Lakers, who have won four straight.
The Rockets, who had a three-game winning streak snapped, also received a big contribution from Carl Landry, who scored 21 points.
The Lakers rarely led in the opening half — their biggest advantage was two points on three occasions — but stayed close on the strength of 17 points from Bryant. Los Angeles shot a respectable 52 percent (24-of-46) from the field, but Houston made 25-of-40 attempts for 63 percent efficiency.
NUGGETS 99, MAVERICKS 97
In Denver, Chauncey Billups made two free throws with 2.2 seconds left to give Denver a narrow win over Dallas. Billups scored 23 points to lead Denver in recovering after blowing a 17-point lead.
The loss tarnished a 44-point effort by Dirk Nowitzki — including the tying basket with 19 seconds left — as the Mavericks slipped to a third successive loss.
SUNS 107, HAWKS 102
In Phoenix, the home side notched a third straight win by downing Atlanta.
Shaquille O’Neal had 26 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns, who have won six of seven and improved to nine games over .500 for the first time this season. The Hawks have lost four in a row.
After a tight fourth quarter, O’Neal put the Suns ahead for good, 99-98, with a foul shot with 1:49 remaining.
BOBCATS 80, PISTONS 78
In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Raymond Felton’s jump shot with 0.7 seconds left saw Charlotte edge Detroit.
The Bobcats scored the game’s final nine points, including seven from Felton who finished with 23.
CAVALIERS 102, GRIZZLIES 87
In Memphis, Tennessee, LeBron James had 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his second triple-double of the season, leading Cleveland over Memphis.
James scored only nine points in the opening half, then had 17 in the third quarter and completed his triple-double with a behind-the-back pass for a layup in the fourth.
MAGIC 139, KINGS 107
In Sacramento, California, Orlando made an NBA record 23 3-pointers to cruise past Sacramento.
The Magic made 23 of 37 attempts from beyond the line to break the old mark of 21, set by Toronto in 2005 against Philadelphia. The record provided the only interest to a one-sided encounter.
Dwight Howard had 25 points and 15 rebounds. With the Magic leading comfortably, Howard sat on the bench throughout the fourth quarter as the Magic won their fifth straight game.