Kobe Bryant did not play in the fourth quarter because of back spasms, and Pau Gasol missed his fifth game because of a strained hamstring. But the San Antonio Spurs were still delighted with Tuesday night's 105-85 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. "We needed this one," said Tim Duncan, who had 25 points and 13 rebounds for the Spurs. "Obviously they're dealing with some injuries, and Kobe doesn't play in the fourth quarter or whatever it may be, but it's a great win for us. We'll take it where we can get it."
Bryant had 16 points and attempted a season-low 10 shots from the field before leaving in the third quarter after injuring his back in the first half. "I could barely move," Bryant said. "I tried to orchestrate some things for my team, couldn't walk. I literally couldn't walk. It's the only way I don't play." Bryant was already trying to overcome a broken right index finger that has hampered his shooting of late, but he refused to use injuries as an excuse for the loss.
"It's part of the business," he said. "I won't allow my guys to even think about that or have that attitude." Elsewhere, Charlie Villanueva scored 23 points as the Detroit Pistons ended a 13-game losing streak with a 99-90 win over the Washington Wizards. "Oh, man," Villanueva said. "It felt like forever." Richard Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey each added 19 for the Pistons, who won for the first tie since December 12.
"Somebody had to win tonight - and we just wanted it to be us," said Hamilton. "We knew when we came in tonight, we could only worry about us." The Charlotte Bobcats' Stephen Jackson scored 16 of his career-high 43 points in the fourth quarter in a 102-94 win over Houston Rockets. Jackson made 15 of 22 shots, including 10 of 11 free throws, and added eight rebounds. "He's about as bright as anybody I've ever coached," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said.
"He's in that difficult category, but he loves his teammates and he loves to play. And he's made everybody better." The Memphis Grizzlies ended the Los Angeles Clippers' four-game winning run with a 104-102 victory which featured 24 points from Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol, plus 20 by Zach Randolph. The game was interrupted for 20 minutes in the third period when a broken water line in the fire sprinkler system triggered the arena's alarm system.
When play resumed, Memphis came from 13 points down to claim the win. "It was a little bit of adversity, something a little different," Grizzlies guard OJ Mayo said. "I just wanted to get back and start hoopin'. I didn't want them to call the game or postpone it." "For some reason, it just seemed like it gave us a second chance. "This team has been through a lot of adversity so it was nothing new for us. We just had to stick together, go out there and play hard."
Baron Davis recorded his 10th career triple-double with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists for the Clippers. And Dwight Howard had 30 points and 16 rebounds as the Orlando Magic beat the Sacramento Kings 109-88. * With agencies