Fans in Atlanta are so starved for a decent NBA team that they turned to a proven winner last night. Unlike the hometown Hawks, Kobe Bryant did not disappoint.
Bryant scored 15 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, prompting Atlanta fans to chant "MVP! MVP!" as the Los Angeles Lakers pulled away for a 108-91 victory.
"It felt good," Bryant said. "It's good to have fan support."
Shaquille O'Neal scored 31 points in 32 minutes and was able to rest during the fourth quarter. The Lakers won for the third time in their last eight games away from Los Angeles.
Bryant turned the sellout crowd of 19,280 in his favor as he made four consecutive three-pointers to turn an 11-point lead into a 99-80 margin with 4 minutes 59 seconds remaining.
After missing his last three-point attempt at the 4:20 mark, Bryant left with a team-high 10 rebounds and six assists.
* TIMBERWOLVES 108, HEAT 91: Kevin Garnett and Wally Szczerbiak scored 26 points apiece as host Minnesota moved 20 games over .500.
Szczerbiak made 10 of 13 shots and Garnett went 10 for 15 for the Timberwolves (46-26), who had not been this far over .500 since they were 40-20 on March 5 last season.
Garnett added eight rebounds and eight assists, ending his franchise-best streak of 19 straight double-doubles. He leads the NBA with 60 double-doubles this season.
Marc Jackson had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, which is fighting Portland for the fourth spot and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Timberwolves have won four straight after beginning March with a 3-5 record.
Caron Butler scored 21 points and Anthony Carter had a career-high 15 assists for Miami.
* CAVALIERS 124, WARRIORS 103: Cleveland remembered the way Jason Richardson embarrassed Carlos Boozer during all-star weekend.
Boozer had 19 points and a game-high 14 rebounds as the host Cavaliers won consecutive games for the first time this season by beating Richardson and Golden State.
Richardson showed off at Boozer's expense last month during the rookie-sophomore game by bouncing the ball off Boozer's head, then hitting a three-pointer as time expired.
The Golden State guard said before the game that he apologized to Boozer during all-star weekend, but the Cavaliers clearly did not forget.
"They wanted to win for Boozer," Coach Keith Smart said.
Ricky Davis scored 28 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 23 as Cleveland shot 52 percent and played aggressively, outrebounding the Warriors 54-40.
"I appreciate it," Boozer said. "We definitely needed another win. It's great to get two in a row."
Richardson did not speak to reporters after the game.
* SPURS 107, BUCKS 94: Tim Duncan scored 31 points and Speedy Claxton had 12 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds to lead San Antonio at home.
Spurs center David Robinson, who plans to retire after this season, was honored at halftime and after the game for his 13 years with the team. He scored 10 points.
Claxton came off the bench to replace starting point guard Tony Parker, who left with a sprained right wrist at the end of the first quarter. The third-year guard finished with career highs in assists and rebounds.
Malik Rose added 18 points for the Spurs.
Sam Cassell led the Bucks with 19 points. Desmond Mason added 17, Tim Thomas 15, Michael Redd 15 and Gary Payton 12.