LOS ANGELES ó The Los Angeles Lakers took sole possession of the Western Conference lead Sunday. Keeping it might be a different matter, even if they win their only remaining regular-season game.
MVP candidate Kobe Bryant had 20 points, five rebounds and five assists before sitting out the fourth quarter, and the Lakers routed the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs 106-85 for their seventh win in eight games.
“It was a big game for us,” Bryant said. “It was another step in the right direction. Going into the playoffs is all about momentum. Now, we just have to take it up another notch once the playoffs start.”
The Lakers (56-25), who clinched their first Pacific Division championship in four years and at least the No. 3 seed in the West on Friday night, need to beat visiting Sacramento on Tuesday night and have Houston lose at least one of its final three games to earn the conference’s No. 1 seed.
Lamar Odom, the only Los Angeles starter to play in the final period, added 17 points and 14 rebounds. Pau Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Derek Fisher also scored 14 for the Lakers, who outscored the Spurs 53-32 in the second half.
Cavaliers 84, Hear 76
CLEVELAND ó Daniel Gibson made a 3-pointer and three straight free throws early in the fourth quarter to give Cleveland some cushion while LeBron James rested, and the Cavaliers moved closer to the East’s No. 4 seed.
Ricky Davis scored 17 points and Daequan Cook and Earl Barron had 13 apiece for Miami (14-66), whose dismal season is nearly over.
Pistons 91, Raptors 84AUBURN HILLS, Mich. ó Rodney Stuckey scored 18 points, Jason Maxiell had 14 as Detroit won without playing its starters in the fourth quarter.
The loss drops Toronto (40-40) into a tie with Philadelphia for the Eastern Conference’s sixth seed with two games left, although the Raptors have the tiebreaker.
The score was tied at 65 early in the fourth, and the Pistons had all five starters on the bench, having already clinched the second seed.
Chris Bosh had 30 points for Toronto.
Magic 104, Bulls 84
CHICAGO ó Hedo Turkoglu scored 24 points, and the Orlando Magic beat the Chicago Bulls 104-84 to reach the 50-win mark for the first time in 12 years.
Dwight Howard added 19 points even though he sat out the fourth quarter, and Rashard Lewis added 18.
Orlando got a much-needed win after dropping six of 10 and losing to lottery-bound New York and Minnesota in that span.
The Magic hit 11 of 14 shots in the first quarter while grabbing a 36-24 lead.