In a game of contrasts -- matching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 38, against rookie Patrick Ewing and the team with the best start in the NBA against a team with one of the worst -- age and talent won out.

Abdul-Jabbar scored five of his 26 points during an 18-9 streak down the stretch as the Los Angeles Lakers improved to 21-3 with a 105-99 victory last night over the Knicks in New York. Ewing scored 28 points for the Knicks (7-18).

"Both of them held their own," Lakers Coach Pat Riley said. "They went at each other the whole game, played to their potential, got their numbers and played big games against defenses trying to double- or triple-team them."

"He's going to be a very fine center," Abdul-Jabbar said of Ewing. "He's only been in the league two months and he's doing a very good job under difficult circumstances."

The Lakers, who were held well under their scoring average of 123.7 points per game, trailed, 87-85, midway through the fourth period but Abdul-Jabbar's hook shot with 3:24 remaining gave them the lead for good at 96-94.

New York, despite a league-low scoring average of 93.9 points a game, kept the game close throughout, never trailing by more than seven points. There were 21 ties and 17 lead changes.

Los Angeles led, 28-24, at the end of the first quarter, but the Knicks slowed the pace. Ewing's baseline jumper at the buzzer tied it, 46-46. 76ers 102, Pacers 96

Julius Erving scored 28 points and Moses Malone had 24 to help Philadelphia win at Indiana.

The 76ers took a 58-45 halftime lead and increased the margin to 15 with 19 seconds to go in the third quarter. Indiana narrowed the lead to three several times in the fourth period, the last at 94-91 with two minutes left before Malone tipped in a rebound and made two free throws to increase the lead to 98-91 with 1:45 remaining. Bulls 116, Celtics 108

Orlando Woolridge equaled his season-high 37 points to help the Bulls beat Boston in Chicago. Six straight points gave the Bulls a 110-103 lead with 33 seconds left. Scott Wedman hit a three-point shot to pull Boston within four with 27 seconds left, but the Celtics got no closer.

The Bulls held a 57-56 lead at halftime. Woolridge scored 12 points in the third quarter as the Bulls took an 85-82 lead into the final period. Rockets 98, Cavaliers 94

Lewis Lloyd scored 25 of his career-high 38 points in the second half and Houston held Cleveland to 14 fourth-quarter points en route to the victory in Richfield, Ohio.

Cleveland led by 13 points in the third quarter before Houston pulled to 80-73 entering the final quarter. Hawks 104, Nets 103

Eddie Johnson made a jump shot and two free throws in the last 36 seconds to help beat New Jersey in Atlanta.

Johnson's basket gave the Hawks a 102-101 lead and marked the last of 12 lead changes in the fourth quarter. After New Jersey's Darryl Dawkins missed two free throws, Johnson hit his to give Atlanta a 104-101 lead with eight seconds left. Spurs 126, Trail Blazers 118

In San Antonio, Artis Gilmore scored a season-high 29 points and Mike Mitchell made 26 to lead the Spurs over Portland.

San Antonio, unable to get an offensive rebound in the first half, rallied to take a four-point halftime lead when Alvin Robertson hit two long jumpers in the last 30 seconds. Nuggets 122, Warriors 114

Alex English scored 31 points and Calvin Natt had 27, including 14 in the last quarter, as Denver extended Golden State's road woes.

The loss was the ninth straight away from home for the Warriors (10-19, 1-12 on the road). Suns 104, SuperSonics 99

Larry Nance scored 31 points and James Edwards 29 as Phoenix ended Seattle's five-game winning streak at home.

Guards Gerald Henderson of the Sonics and Jay Humphreys of the Suns were ejected for a fistfight with 10:56 left in the third quarter. Kings 132, Pistons 121

Reggie Theus scored 16 points in the fourth quarter as Detroit lost in Sacramento, Calif. Theus led the Kings with 27 points.