Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) and Lakers guard Steve Nash (10) of Canada. REUTERS/Brent Smith
In their first game without injured forward Metta World Peace, the Los Angeles Lakers did what they always do. They beat the Timberwolves, this time 120-117.
Dwight Howard, intimidating the Wolves all game, had a monster night with 25 points, 16 rebounds, five steals and five blocks.
Kobe Bryant had 31 points and seven assists, Antawn Jamison scored 18 off the bench and Paul Gasol scored 16.
The Lakers (37-35) had lost their previous three games and are battling for a Western Conference playoff spot, so it was a much-needed win. But it was hardly unexpected.
In other NBA games:
Clippers 105, Hornets 91
Blake Griffin scored 19 points, leading five players in double figures, and the Los Angeles Clippers made a dozen 3-pointers to defeat the New Orleans Hornets 105-91.
The Clippers (49-23) had lost 11 of their previous 12 road games against the Hornets, but they made the Hornets pay for a collapsing defense with their sizzling perimeter shooting and also made 24 of 28 free throw attempts.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak by the Hornets (25-47).
Thunder 103, Wizards 80
Kevin Martin came off the bench to score 18 points as Oklahoma City defeated Washington 103-80.
The win was the third in a row for the Thunder and sixth in their last eight games as they continue to battle San Antonio for the top spot in the West Conference.
The injury ravaged Wizards (26-45) suffered only their third defeat in past nine outings. After a competitive first half, they fell apart on both ends of the court in the second half. Oklahoma City held the Wizards to 35 second half points.
Pacers 100, Rockets 91
Two nights after proving their mettle with a shorthanded win over the Atlanta Hawks, the Indiana Pacers led the Houston Rockets wire to wire for a 100-91 victory.
Missing starting forwards Danny Granger (left knee) and David West (lower back), the Pacers (45-27) relied on balanced scoring and their usual brand of suffocating defense to sweep their season series with the Rockets (39-32), who closed a season-long seven-game homestand at 5-2.
Knicks 108, Grizzlies 101
J.R. Smith scored 35 points to lead the New York Knicks to their fifth straight win as they barely held off the Memphis Grizzlies 108-101 in a game that featured a surprisingly tense final few minutes.
The Knicks watched a 30-point, second-half lead fall to four late in the fourth quarter, but they held on for the victory at Madison Square Garden.
Carmelo Anthony scored 22 and Iman Shumpert added 16 for the Knicks (44-26), who were again without injured center Tyson Chandler.
Celtics 93, Cavaliers 92
Forward Jeff Green's driving layup at the buzzer powered the Boston Celtics' 93-92 victory over the Cavaliers.
The Celtics (37-34) snapped a five-game losing streak with Green's heroics. He finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Forward Brandon Bass had a game-high 22 points and added five rebounds for the Celtics, who were playing without Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Courtney Lee.
The Cavs (22-48) had a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter. They still were up by 10 with 5 minutes, 48 seconds left. Poor execution and missed shots down the stretch led to their sixth consecutive loss and 10th in the last 12 games.
Bobcats 114, Magic 108
Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker scored 34 points each as the Charlotte Bobcats beat the Orlando Magic 114-108.
The Bobcats scored 10 straight points after trailing 106-104 going into the final four minutes, and wound up holding the Magic scoreless on seven straight possessions down the stretch.
Bismack Biyombo's dunk with 2:31 remaining gave the Bobcats the lead for good at 108-106 with 2:31 remaining.
Hawks 107, Raptors 88
The Atlanta Hawks used a dominating fourth quarter to clinch a playoff spot for the sixth consecutive season.
Tied after three quarters, the Hawks outscored the Toronto Raptors 32-13 in the fourth to pull out a 107-88 win.
Atlanta's Al Horford and Jeff Teague led the scoring with 26 and 24 points, respectively. Five Raptors scored in double digits, led by Jonas Valanciunas, who had 19 points.
76ers 100, Bucks 92
Spencer Hawes and Dorell Wright combined for 13 points in a critical 15-0 fourth quarter flurry as the Philadelphia 76ers rallied to beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 100-92.
Jrue Holiday and Damien Wilkins scored 18 points apiece to pace Philadelphia (28-43), which had lost three of its previous four. Hawes had 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, while Wright and Thaddeus Young scored 14 each.
Monta Ellis scored 29 points for Milwaukee (34-36), which lost its fourth straight but remains the Eastern Conference's eighth seed, 6.5 games ahead of the ninth-seeded Sixers.