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Metta World Peace was ejected but the Los Angeles Lakers snatched a thrilling double overtime win over the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-106.
The Lakers rallied from 18 points down in the second half on the back of Kobe Bryant's 26 points as the star laid to rest concerns over the shin injury that kept him out for seven games.
The contest was, however, overshadowed by Metta Peace's ejection after he elbowed James Harden in the head after celebrating a dunk in the second period.
The burly forward then seemed to square up to the Thunder players as they protested before the officials sent him to the locker room.
The Thunder's defeat edged the San Antonio Spurs to within reach of home-court advantage through the play-offs as they thumped the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-98.
The Spurs will tie up top place in the Western Conference with victory over the lowly Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Clippers remained half a game behind the Lakers in the Pacific division as they beat the New Orleans Hornets 107-98. Chris Paul almost completed a triple-double posting 33 points, 13 assists and eight steals.
Carmelo Anthony proved he could yet make the New York Knicks a dangerous team in the play-offs as he continued his hot streak with 39 points to lift them 113-112 over the Atlanta Hawks.
Dwyane Wade missed the Miami Heat's 97-88 win over the Houston Rockets with the dislocated finger he suffered on Sunday.
Wade is expected to return for the opening game of the play-offs next week but even without him, or the rested Chris Bosh, the Heat ended the Rockets' post-season bid.
The Charlotte Bobcats remained on course for the worst win percentage in NBA history as the suffered a 20th consecutive loss 114-88 against the Sacramento Kings.
The Bobcats (7-56) will claim that unenviable record if they lose their final three games.
The Denver Nuggets' bid to tie down the sixth seeding in the West was boosted with a 101-74 over the Orlando Magic. The Detroit Pistons won 76-73 over the Toronto Raptors while the Golden State Warriors edged the Minnesota Timberwolves 93-88.