Lakers end Celtics' streak at 19

The Baltimore Sun

Perhaps now the Los Angeles Lakers can put the anguish of losing the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics and the embarrassment over the way it ended behind them.

Kobe Bryant had 27 points and seven assists, Pau Gasol scored seven of his 20 in the final three minutes, and the host Lakers beat Boston, 92-83, yesterday to end the Celtics' franchise-record 19-game winning streak.

The game was the first between the teams since the Celtics romped to a 131-92 victory in Game 6 of the Finals last June to win their first championship in 22 years and league-high 17th title. The Lakers blew a 24-point second-quarter lead in Game 4 at Staples Center to fall behind 3-1 - a deficit that had never been overcome in the Finals.

The teams have met 11 times in the Finals, with the Celtics going 9-2.

"We've been waiting for that opportunity for a long time, and we won," said Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic, who scored 10 points. "I don't like them at all. A lot of people called us softies or whatever. It doesn't matter at all. We know what we can do.

"Last year, they won the championship. This year, it's our year; we want to take it all the way."

The victory was the 1,000th for Los Angeles' Phil Jackson, enabling him to become the sixth NBA coach to reach that milestone. Jackson, 63, has a career record of 1,000-423 in 17-plus seasons as coach of the Chicago Bulls and the Lakers. He became the fastest to win 1,000 games, surpassing Pat Riley, who did it in 1,434 games.

Gasol missed his first four shots, and showed frustration at times. But he made all three of his shots and all three of his free throws in the fourth quarter for nine of his team's 21 points.

"We were pretty physical," said Gasol, who had three rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. "We were able to contain them, keep our poise and finish the game off. I had to make sure I took it to them, not settle for easy jumpers. I'm glad I was able to get over that hump of a slow start.

"It shows we can beat anybody. Hopefully, we'll build on it."

Lamar Odom had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Lakers (24-5), who won their 12th straight game at home, where they're 15-1.

Cavaliers 93, Wizards 89: : Being home for the holidays was almost a downer for Cleveland.

Trailing woeful Washington by eight, the Cavaliers scored 11 straight points in the final 1:33 to preserve their perfect (15-0) record at home.

Mo Williams scored 24 points, and LeBron James and Delonte West had 18 apiece for the Cavs (25-4).

Antawn Jamison hit a three-pointer with 1:40 left to put the Wizards ahead by seven points.

But James was fouled shooting a three and Cleveland's superstar, who had started 3-for-7 from the line, made three straight to pull Cleveland to 89-85. Williams then drew a charge on Jamison and hit a three-pointer to make it 89-88 with 1:03 to go.

Mike James missed for Washington and Jamison fouled out while battling Anderson Varejao for a rebound. Varejao made both free throws to give the Cavs a 90-88 lead, and Cleveland got the ball right back when Caron Butler was called for charging into Ben Wallace. The Wizards had to foul and Williams hit two free throws to make it 92-89.

The Wizards still had a chance to tie, but James, recently acquired from Memphis, missed a three-point try and West made one of two foul shots to ice it.

Washington (4-23) is off to the worst start in franchise history.

Spurs 91, Suns 90: : Roger Mason made a three-pointer from the corner at the buzzer to give visiting San Antonio (19-10) the victory.

The Spurs won their fourth straight. The Suns (16-12) led most of the afternoon, but never by more than eight in the second half.

Magic 88, Hornets 68: : Hedo Turkoglu scored 20 points to lead host Orlando (23-6) over New Orleans (16-9) in a matchup of division leaders. It was the Magic's sixth straight victory.

Chris Paul, the NBA steals leader (3.7 average), ended his league-record string of 108 games with at least one.

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