Tracy McGrady had 27 points and seven assists, and the Houston Rockets beat slumping Los Angeles, 114-100, last night with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson in attendance at Staples Center.
The Rockets snapped a three-game losing streak and handed Los Angeles its fifth straight loss, and 13th in 14 games. The Lakers (33-42) are assured of their first losing record since they went 33-49 in the 1993-94 season.
Jackson watched the game from owner Jerry Buss's luxury suite. Jackson hadn't seen the Lakers play in person since last June, when he coached them in the NBA Finals. Shortly thereafter, the decision was made that he wouldn't return this season.
It's been speculated since Rudy Tomjanovich resigned as coach on Feb. 2 that Jackson would come back to the team he guided to championships in his first three seasons. But Jackson's agent has said his client wouldn't discuss a coaching job until after the season.
"It's just a social visit," Lakers spokesman John Black said. "Dr. Buss had invited him several months ago to come to a game and sit in his suite with him. Phil's been traveling a lot; this was the first opportunity that Phil was in town when we had a home game."
MAVERICKS 104, SPURS 68: With Devin Harris starting a fast break by throwing a backward, overhead pass while falling down and Jerry Stackhouse setting up a layup with a behind-the-back pass in the lane, the Mavs resoundingly avoided a season sweep by their division nemesis in their 150th straight home sellout.
Keith Van Horn scored 10 of his 17 points during the game-breaking third quarter, after which it was only a matter of Dallas's winning margin. The result was San Antonio's most lopsided loss since falling to Seattle by 38 in the 2001 finale. It also was the Mavs' biggest victory margin over the Spurs, topping a 32-point win in January 1989.
San Antonio, which has lost six straight road games since two-time MVP Tim Duncan was injured, never had a chance in this one.
"He would've made a difference," Stackhouse said of Duncan, "but I don't think he would've made a 40-point difference."
NETS 110, KNICKS 98: Jason Kidd had 28 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for his 66th career triple-double, Vince Carter scored 32 points, and New Jersey kept its slim playoff hopes alive by sending visiting New York to its season-high eighth straight loss.