The Boston Celtics maintained their lead in the Eastern Conference with a 90-80 road win over previously top-ranked Orlando Magic on Thursday.
The Celtics' defense returned to the form that helped capture the NBA title last year, holding the Magic to 38 percent shooting in snapping Orlando's seven-game winning streak.
Boston (36-9) stretched their own winning mark to seven in a row, led by 27 points and 10 rebounds from Paul Pierce and 16 points from Kevin Garnett.
Glen Davis contributed 16 points off the bench, providing the Celtics with a boost from the reserves for the second consecutive night in a row. Eddie House had 25 in Boston's 98-83 win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
Hedo Turkoglu led the way with 22 points and Rashard Lewis had 20 for the Magic (33-9), who shot just 7-for-22 from the 3-point line.
All-Star big man Dwight Howard was limited to just 11 points and 11 rebounds while being defended by a host of Celtics post players, including Kendrick Perkins, who played in his second game since returning from a shoulder injury.
The Celtics latest streak has come on the heels of their season-worst 2-7 slump.
Lakers 117, Wizards 97
In Los Angeles, the home team maintained its outright lead in the league percentage standings with a comfortable win over struggling Washington.
Andrew Bynum had 23 points and 14 rebounds and Pau Gasol added 18 points for the Lakers.
On the third anniversary of his franchise-record 81-point game, Kobe Bryant had 11 points, five assists and four rebounds in 28 minutes for Los Angeles.
Earlier in the day, Bryant was selected to start in the All-Star game for the 11th consecutive season.
Los Angeles' 34-8 start is their best since 1971-72, and coach Phil Jackson had the luxury of resting many of his starters over the course of successive games against lowly Washington and the L.A. Clippers.
(Agencies via China Daily January 24, 2009)