Odom carries Lakers
LOS ANGELES — So much for all that confidence the Denver Nuggets had built up during their two impressive wins against the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this season.
The defending NBA champions picked up on the playoff vibe inside Staples Center yesterday and got things back to normal, despite a poor-shooting effort from Kobe Bryant.
Lamar Odom scored nine of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and grabbed 12 rebounds, helping the Lakers overcome an 11-point third-quarter deficit and pull out a 95-89 victory against the team they knocked off in last year's Western Conference finals. Pau Gasol added 15 points and 14 rebounds.
"It was nice to be in somewhat of a pressure-cooker," Bryant said. "It's been two years now where we've beaten them in the postseason, so I'm sure they're fed up."
Ron Artest added 17 points and tied a season high with six steals for the Lakers, who trail the Cavaliers by one game for the league's best record.
Bryant was just 3 for 17 from the field, finishing with 14 points and 12 assists.
Spurs 113, Suns 110: Richard Jefferson scored 20 points in his best game since losing his starting job, and host San Antonio ended Phoenix's five-game winning streak. Amare Stoudemire had a season-high 41 points and added 12 rebounds for Phoenix.
Hawks 106, Bucks 102: Joe Johnson scored nine of his 24 points in overtime, Josh Smith had 22 points and 15 rebounds, and host Atlanta ended Milwaukee's winning streak at six. Jerry Stackhouse finished with 20 points in a reserve role for the Bucks.
Magic 96, Heat 80: Rashard Lewis had 22 points and Vince Carter added 17 to help host Orlando overcome Dwight Howard's sub-par game. Howard, who had 20 straight double-doubles, was in foul trouble most of the game and finished with seven points and five rebounds in 24 minutes.
Wizards 89, Nets 85: Andray Blatche scored a career-high 36 points and had 15 rebounds, and Randy Foye hit two jumpers in the final 44 seconds for visiting Washington. Al Thorton added 20 points as Washington rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit.
Mavericks 108, Hornets 100: Dirk Nowitzki scored 36 points, Caron Butler had 19 and host Dallas won its seventh straight. The Hornets had cut what had been a 25-point deficit to 101-97 after Darren Collison's 3-pointer with 2:44 left, but New Orleans didn't get any closer.
Thunder 119, Raptors 99: Kevin Durant scored 29 points, Nenad Krstic added 16 and host Oklahoma City beat Toronto. Jeff Green had 20 points and matched his career-high with four steals for the Thunder.
Kings 97, Clippers 92: Tyreke Evans scored 22 points to help host Sacramento beat Los Angeles. Carl Landry scored 18 points, and Spencer Hawes had 16 points and nine rebounds for Sacramento.
Timberwolves: Minnesota center Al Jefferson apologized to the team and fans yesterday after his arrest on suspicion of DWI following a weekend loss to Portland. The Timberwolves suspended Jefferson for the next two games without pay — a punishment Jefferson said he accepts.
Cavaliers: Cleveland center Shaquille O'Neal will undergo surgery today to repair his injured right thumb. The team has not provided any time line for his return.