Kobe Bryant scored 40 points and Pau Gasol added 26 as the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves rallying for the second straight game against one of the Western Conference’s worst teams, beating the Golden State Warriors 120-112 on Sunday night.
Ramon Sessions added 23 points in his best game since being traded to the Lakers two weeks ago. Gasol and reserve Troy Murphy had 11 rebounds each after All-Star center Andrew Bynum sprained his left ankle in the first quarter of the Lakers’ eighth consecutive home win against the Warriors.
David Lee led six Warriors in double figures with 27 points. Klay Thompson added 18, Nate Robinson 17 and Richard Jefferson 16 for Golden State, who lost their fifth in a row and 10th in their last 12.
THUNDER 92, BULLS 78
In Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook scored 27 points, while Kevin Durant added 26 points and 10 rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder used a dominating third quarter to beat Chicago.
The Thunder pulled away by outscoring Chicago 31-12 in the third quarter, allowing the Bulls to make only five of their 21 shots.
Oklahoma City clinched a playoff berth in the process, with the help of tiebreakers over the teams fighting for the Western Conference’s final spot in the postseason.
The Bulls played without All-Star point guard Derrick Rose for the 10th straight game, falling to 14-6 this season without the reigning MVP and 7-3 during his current absence with a groin injury.
CELTICS 91, HEAT 72
In Boston, Rajon Rondo had a triple-double as Boston handed Miami their biggest loss of the season.
The Celtics outscored the Heat 31-12 in the third quarter, turning a five-point halftime lead into an 80-56 advantage. They stayed ahead by at least 19 the rest of the way for their fifth straight win.
Miami’s past three losses have been by at least 15 points and their previous worst defeat of the season came just one week earlier in a 103-87 setback in Oklahoma City.
Rondo finished with 16 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds for his fifth triple-double of the season.
The Celtics increased their Atlantic Division lead to one game over idle Philadelphia.
In other NBA action, it was:
. Raptors 99, Wizards 92
‧ Nuggets 104, Magic 101
‧ Pacers 104, Rockets 102, OT
‧ Suns 92, Hornets 75
‧ Blazers 119, T-Wolves 106