Steve Nash added 16 points and 11 assists for the Lakers, who improved to 14-14 for the season, including 9-9 under coach Mike D’Antoni. The 38-year-old point guard and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player took part in his second straight game since returning to the Lakers Dec. 23 after missing 24 games with a left leg injury.
“It makes it very easy for me,” Bryant said of Nash’s return in a televised interview from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. “I just have to run the lane, look for opportunities to score.”
Carmelo Anthony finished with 34 points, including 17 in the third quarter, to lead the Knicks, which lost for the second time in three games. J.R. Smith added 25 points for New York.
Bryant scored eight of the Lakers’ first 10 fourth-quarter points and Los Angeles never trailed after the NBA’s leading scorer made a basket with 7:37 remaining. The Lakers held Anthony to seven points in the final quarter and Smith missed a three-point shot with 32.9 seconds remaining that would have tied the game at 97.
Pau Gasol’s driving dunk with 12 seconds remaining sealed the win for the Lakers. Gasol finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Metta World Peace added 20 points for the Lakers before fouling out with 1:58 remaining. Dwight Howard had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Knicks dropped to 20-8 with the defeat, remaining in first place in the Atlantic Division. New York plays against the Phoenix Suns today.
LeBron James scored 29 points as the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-97 in a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals.
James had nine assists and eight rebounds for the defending champions, who improved to 19-6. Dwyane Wade added 21 points at Miami’s American Airlines Arena.
At the Barclays Center in New York, Rajon Rondo scored 19 points and added five assists to help the Boston Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets 93-76. Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace each scored 15 points for the Nets, which lost four of the past five games.
In Chicago, the Houston Rockets beat the Bulls 120-97. The Clippers beat the Denver Nuggets 112-100 in Los Angeles.
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