On a night Kobe Bryant and LeBron James faced off, Chris Paul and Danny Granger put on a better show. Hours before the Cavaliers and Lakers tipped off in Los Angeles, Paul and Granger both made clutch shots with time winding down. Only Paul's stood up as a winner. Paul capped a 27-point performance with a fadeaway 3-pointer as time expired - after Granger hit a 3 with 2.5 seconds left - and the hobbled New Orleans Hornets escaped with a 103-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.
"As we walked out on the court, I saw Danny was guarding me and I told him, 'Tough shot,'" Paul said. "The shot he hit was just as good. ... I wanted to try to get to the basket but they sort of cut that off, so I threw up a fadeaway and it went in."
It was the second time in a week that Granger had a sterling performance trumped by a late 3. On Jan. 12 at Golden State, he scored 15 of his career high-tying 42 points in a wild fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer that put the Pacers up 117-116 with 23.8 seconds left. But Jamal Crawford hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 11.3 seconds left to help lift the Warriors.
Bryant and James tussled to a draw in Los Angeles, but Bryant's supporting cast helped lift the Lakers to a 105-88 win.
"It's always great when you go against the best," James said. "It brings out the best in you. He's (Bryant) one of the ultimate competitors that we have in our game today, and I enjoy going against him.
In other NBA games Monday, it was: Detroit 87, Memphis 79; Boston 104, Phoenix 87; Portland 102, Milwaukee 85; New York 102, Chicago 98; Dallas 95, Philadelphia 93; Atlanta 87, Toronto 84; Houston 115, Denver 113; San Antonio 86, Charlotte 84; New Orleans 103, Indiana 100; Minnesota 94, L.A. Clippers 86; and Golden State 119, Washington 98.
Granger scored 30 points in his homecoming to his native New Orleans. His game-tying 3 set off a brief celebration by the Pacers, but moments later Granger was slumped over, hands on his knees, head hanging, as the Hornets mobbed Paul.
"I wanted no part of overtime," Paul said. "That's a great team we played over there. I don't care what their record says. They gave us two tough games and we hit two big shots to beat them."
Lakers 105, Cavaliers 88
At Los Angeles, Bryant had 20 points and 12 assists and Pau Gasol had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, whose 32-8 record leads the Western Conference.
James had 23 points and nine rebounds, but shot just 9-of-25. Mo Williams added 16 points, six rebounds and five assists and Sasha Pavlovic scored 12 for the Cavaliers (31-8), who absorbed their most one-sided loss of the season.
Trail Blazers 102, Bucks 85
Pistons 87, Grizzlies 79
The Grizzlies lost their sixth straight and 14th in 16 games.
Celtics 104, Suns 87
At New York, Chris Duhon scored with 31.2 seconds left and finished with 19 points to help the Knicks beat his former team.
Duhon, questionable with back spasms before the game, drove around two defenders to put the Knicks up 99-98. He then hit two free throws with 22.8 seconds remaining to extend the lead to three after Bulls rookie Derrick Rose missed on a drive.
The Bulls had a chance in the final seconds, but Ben Gordon shot an airball on a 3-point attempt.
Mavericks 95, 76ers 93
Lou Williams scored 25 points for the 76ers.
Hawks 87, Raptors 84
Josh Smith had 22 points and 14 rebounds.
Rockets 115, Nuggets 113
Spurs 86, Bobcats 84
Duncan's rejection squirted to Boris Diaw, but he missed a game-winning 3-point attempt at the buzzer for the Bobcats, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.
Raja Bell scored 25 points in his best offensive performance since being acquired by the Bobcats last month.
Timberwolves 94, Clippers 86
The Timberwolves have won seven of their last eight after losing 15 of 17. Minnesota is 9-11 under Kevin McHale, who stepped down as the team's vice president of basketball operations and took over as coach for Randy Wittman on Dec. 8.
Warriors 119, Wizards 98