The San Antonio Spurs prevailed in a clash of the NBA leaders against the defending champions, beating the reeling Los Angeles Lakers 97-82 on Tuesday.
Tony Parker scored 23 points and DeJuan Blair had 17 points and 15 rebounds, leading an unlikely Spurs cast that handed the Lakers their third straight loss.
Los Angeles’ Kobe Bryant finished with 21 points on 8-of-27 shooting. He missed 13 in a row at one point, and might be fuming again after criticizing his teammates following a Christmas Day loss to Miami.
The Spurs improved to 27-4, among the best starts in NBA history.
The Lakers dropped to 21-10 — the first time since 2007 they’ve reached 10 losses this early.
CELTICS 95, PACERS 83
In Indianapolis, Indiana, Paul Pierce scored 21 points to lead Boston over Indiana.
Ray Allen added 17 for the Celtics, who were without point guard Rajon Rondo, missing his fifth straight game with a sprained ankle.
The Celtics improved to 4-1 without him and maintained the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Brandon Rush led the Pacers with 17 points.
RAPTORS 84, MAVERICKS 76
In Dallas, Texas, rookie Ed Davis scored a career-high 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds as undermanned Toronto upset Dallas.
Linas Kleiza and DeMar DeRozan added 16 points apiece for the Raptors, who were missing several key players but took advantage of the injury absence of Dallas’ top scorer, Dirk Nowitzki.
Toronto had dropped its previous 10 games in Dallas.
Jason Terry scored 18 points for the Mavericks, who had won 17 of their previous 18.
NUGGETS 95, TRAIL BLAZERS 77
In Denver, Colorado, an undermanned Denver won their first game in four by downing Portland.
Chauncey Billups scored 18 points while J.R. Smith and Nene added 17 points apiece for the Nuggets, who were without forward Carmelo Anthony for a fourth consecutive game following the death of his sister. The Nuggets said Anthony will also miss the next game before rejoining the team today.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who lost their fifth straight at Denver.
BULLS 90, BUCKS 77
In Chicago, Carlos Boozer had 24 points and nine rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls past the Milwaukee Bucks.
Luol Deng scored 24 points for the Bulls, who have won 11 of 13 games.
John Salmons scored 18 points for the Bucks, who shot a season-low 32.1 percent.
Chicago pulled away for good midway through the fourth quarter by going on a 16-4 run.
MAGIC 110, CAVALIERS 95
In Cleveland, Ohio, Orlando made a season-high 19 3-pointers in a victory over Cleveland.
Orlando won its fourth straight by breaking open a close game in the fourth quarter with leading scorer Dwight Howard fouled out on the bench from late in the third. The Magic extended a one-point lead at the break to a 17-point advantage with four minutes, 23 seconds to play.
Gilbert Arenas scored 22 points and fellow newcomer Jason -Richardson added 20 for the Magic.
The Cavaliers lost for the 14th time in 15 games.
HEAT 106, KNICKS 98
In Miami, the hosts held off a big fourth-quarter rally to beat New York.
Dwyane Wade scored a season-high 40 points, while LeBron James and Chris Bosh each finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, which is 15-1 in its past 16 games and has beaten the Knicks seven straight times.
Miami led by as many as 22, then saw the lead cut to three before Wade’s 3-pointer with just less than two minutes remaining helped save the Heat.