DALLAS — Kobe Bryant was just a little better than Dirk Nowitzki in a spirited game befitting Western Conference leaders – not teams battling for ninth place.
Bryant had 38 points to win a scoring duel with Nowitzki, and Steve Nash helped beat his former team by getting 20 points for the first time with the Los Angeles Lakers in a 103-99 victory against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
Nowitzki finished with a season-high 30 in a game that had a playoff feel from the start, even though both teams still have plenty of ground to make up to even qualify for the postseason. They trail eighth-place Houston by several games, but they are the franchises that have the last three NBA titles won by teams from the West.
The Mavericks were so frustrated trying to guard Bryant, O.J. Mayo got called for a foul and a technical when he jumped around wildly after the whistle blew on a drive to the basket by Bryant. Nash made the technical shot, and Bryant hit his pair of free throws for a 94-90 lead.
Heat 109, Cavaliers 105: LeBron James scored 28 points, Dwyane Wade scored 11 of his 24 in the final five minutes, and host Miami extended the NBA’s longest current winning streak to 11 games.
Knicks 99, 76ers 93: Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points, Amare Stoudemire had a season-high 22, and host New York broke its longest losing streak of the season at four games.
Warriors 100, Timberwolves 99: Jarrett Jack had 23 points and eight assists to rally Golden State at Minneapolis.
David Lee had 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Warriors, who trailed by 16 in the first quarter before Jack jump-started the offense off the bench as he has all season.
Hornets 110, Kings 95: Anthony Davis had 20 points and eight rebounds, and Eric Gordon added 17 points and eight assists to lead New Orleans to the home victory.
Grizzlies 76, Nets 72: Zach Randolph had 16 points and 14 rebounds as visiting Memphis won its seventh straight game.
Spurs 97, Suns 87: Patty Mills and Kawhi Leonard each scored 16 to lead six San Antonio players in double figures as the Spurs ended their nine-game road trip.
The Spurs, with Tony Parker out with a sore right triceps, finished their annual long journey, caused by a rodeo back home, at 7-2 to boost their NBA-best record to 45-13.