Paul Pierce scored 23 points and Raef LaFrentz had 12 points with 11 rebounds to lead the Celtics to a 110-86 victory over the Indiana Pacers last night in Boston, spoiling Stephen Jackson's return from a 30-game brawl suspension.
Jackson scored 17 points in 38 minutes in his first game back since the Nov. 19 melee against Detroit, when Ron Artest went into the stands seeking a fan who threw a cup at him. Jackson followed Artest into the crowd and took several swings at fans.
Jermaine O'Neal scored 25 for the Pacers.
Gary Payton had 10 points with nine assists and Ricky Davis scored 18 as a reserve for Boston, which won its fourth consecutive home game a night after snapping a nine-game road losing streak.
Jackson hit the Pacers' first basket of the night -- a three-pointer in the first two minutes -- and scored eight points in the first quarter. But he went 0 for 6 from three-point range in the next three quarters and scored just six points in the second half.
"I was pumped, excited to be out there," Jackson said. "But as the game went on, my shots fell shorter and shorter from the rim. You have to be out there to get in shape."
CAVALIERS 114, GRIZZLIES 111: LeBron James scored 27 points with a career-high 15 assists and nine rebounds, finishing in pain on a sprained left ankle to lead Cleveland to the home victory.
It looked as though James's night was over when he twisted his ankle with 9 minutes 23 seconds left and the Cavaliers up by 10. But after being helped off the floor, James dramatically returned with 4:53 remaining and helped close out Memphis.
"I had to lead my team," James said. "My 80 percent can help us win. I can't be scared. I've got to be a soldier out there."
PISTONS 87, NUGGETS 70: Ben Wallace had 14 points and 12 rebounds and reserve Antonio McDyess scored 13 to help host Detroit end a season-high four-game losing streak.
HEAT 111, RAPTORS 96: Shaquille O'Neal had 33 points and 18 rebounds and Eddie Jones added 23 points to lead Miami to the road victory. Jones went 8 for 11 for the Heat, which has won just six of its last 12 games.
SUNS 121, BUCKS 115: Shawn Marion scored 24 points, including 17 in the first half, Amare Stoudemire had 23, Steve Nash 21, Quentin Richardson 18 and Joe Johnson 17 to lead visiting Phoenix. Nash also had 17 assists and three steals.
TIMBERWOLVES 104, HAWKS 87: Latrell Sprewell scored a season-high 32 points, including 22 in the third quarter, to lead host Minnesota.
ROCKETS 82, HORNETS 77: Tracy McGrady scored 10 of his 33 points to help Houston overcome a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, and Scott Padgett's late three-pointer put the Rockets ahead for good in New Orleans.
JAZZ 109, SUPERSONICS 100: Raul Lopez had a career-high 11 assists and matched his best scoring total with 20 points as host Utah beat Seattle.
MAVERICKS 95, TRAIL BLAZERS 88: Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points and 15 rebounds -- his sixth double-double in the last eight games -- to lead visiting Dallas.
NETS 113, WARRIORS 99: Brian Scalabrine had a career-high 29 points and 10 rebounds in a rare start, and Vince Carter had 17 points and nine assists in New Jersey's road win. The Warriors lost for the 12th time in 13 games.
CLIPPERS 105, LAKERS 89: Elton Brand had 28 points and 14 rebounds, and the Clippers led nearly all the way in beating the Lakers for a rare victory over their intercity rivals.