Gasol steps up to lead Lakers past Mavs
LOS ANGELES, April 15 DPA – LA Lakers big man Pau Gasol had little problem stepping into Kobe Bryant’s shoes in crunch time.
The 2.13-metre Spaniard fired in eight of his 20 points, including back-to-back triples, in overtime, and the Lakers edged the visiting Dallas Mavericks 112-108 for their fourth-straight victory without the injured Bryant, who is arguably the best closer in the game.
“I’m glad I was able to hit them,” said Gasol, who knocked down just his sixth and seventh threes of the season.”
“We all feel we have to step up in Kobe’s absence. A different guy can do it every game.”
Andrew Bynum collected 23 points with 16 rebounds, and Ramon Sessions scored 22 while Metta World Peace added 18 for the Pacific Division leaders, who improved to 4-1 as the NBA’s top gun rests his bruised shin.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 24 points but shot just nine-of-28 to go along with 14 rebounds.
Jason Terry scored 21, and Delonte West finished with 20 for the reigning NBA champs, who remained sixth in the West playoff picture even after having their three-game winning streak snapped.
“We did a lot of really good things today, and our shot-making wasn’t there the way it needed to be,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.
Elsewhere, Miami Heat beat New York Knicks 93-85 to clinch the South-East Division title.
Carmelo Anthony fired in 42 points for the Knicks, who dropped one-half game behind idle Philadelphia for the seventh seed in the East playoff race.
Overtime was needed in Detroit where the Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls beat the Pistons for the 15th-straight time, 100 to 94, despite 32 points from Rodney Stuckey.
Boston Celtics beat the league worst Charlotte 94-82, the Bobcats (7-52) sinking to their franchise record-tying 16th-straight loss.
Sacramento Kings snapped a seven-game slide, edging Portland 104-103 thanks to Marcus Thornton’s game-winning jumper with 3.2 seconds left.
Orlando Magic thumped Cleveland Cavaliers 100-84, Toronto Raptors swamped Atlanta Hawks 102-86 and Denver Nuggets accounted for Houston Rockets in similar fashion 101-86.
16 Apr 10:49 PM