BASKETBALL: BRYANT GRABS 38 POINTS IN LAKERS' WIN
Kobe Bryant, five-time NBA champion showed his worth with an artistic display of clutch shooting and all-around effort that included 12 rebounds and seven assists to spearhead Lakers' win with 38 points. 'It was a big win for us,' Bryant said after finishing with 14 fourth-quarter points to seal the triumph. '(I tried to) be patient, attack but still read the defence. We made some tough shots.'
Dallas (25-30) led 90-87 midway through the fourth quarter but visiting Los Angeles nosed ahead with a seven-nil run led by Bryant and Steve Nash who finished with 20 points. The victory was the third straight for Los Angeles (28-29) who moved within 2-1/2 games of a Western Conference playoff spot that Bryant has guaranteed the team will secure. The Mavericks, 10th in the West, are also battling for a spot and Dirk Nowitzki put up 30 points and 13 rebounds. Cuban's comments centred around the NBA's 'amnesty clause,' which allows a team to release a player and avoid paying taxes on their salary. The Mavericks owner has said that his suggestion was just hypothetical, while the Lakers released a statement saying such talk was 'inappropriate.'
Bryant silenced all talk in the fourth where he made three straight difficult jump shots to leave the Dallas crowd murmuring. Bryant and Nash combined for 11 of the last 12 Lakers' points to make up for a quiet day from Dwight Howard who battled foul trouble and had nine points and 13 rebounds.