sport

Lakers see off Mavericks

Kobe Bryant ensured the Los Angeles Lakers continued their NBA play-off push with a 103-99 win over fellow hopefuls the Dallas Mavericks.

Bryant landed 38 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists and delivered some crucial shots in the final quarter, while Dirk Nowitzki made 30 points in a losing cause.

The Western Conference leading San Antonio Spurs versus the ragged Phoenix Suns looked a mis-match on paper, but as it was the heavily-fancied Suns claimed a fairly modest 97-87 win.

Tony Parker and Gary Neal sat out the match, leaving the stage to the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills who each scored 16 points.

Northwest Division front-runners Oklahoma City Thunder put 30 points on the Chicago Bulls in a simple 102-72 triumph.

The Bulls' shooting accuracy was woeful but the Thunder pointed the way as Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant Serge Ibaka all came to the fore.

Eastern Conference pace-setters the Miami Heat defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 109-105, having built a 22-point buffer in the first quarter.

LeBron James led all scorers with 28 points.

Atlantic markers the New York Knicks ended a run of four losses in a row as they beat the Philadelphia 76ers 99-93.

Carmelo Anthony chipped in with 29 points for the Knicks, while Amar'e Stoudemire's haul of 22 was his best of the season.

The Memphis Grizzlies edged a low-scoring encounter with the Brooklyn Nets 76-72, the Golden State Warriors squeezed past the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-99 and the New Orleans Hornets ended a a three-game burn with a 110-95 success at the Sacramento Kings.

In the remaining fixture the Portland Trail Blazers snapped a sequence of seven losses as they defeated the Boston Celtics 92-86.