The Los Angeles Lakers defeated their bitter rivals the Boston Celtics 110-109 in a gritty overtime victory on Thursday.
Lamar Odom made two free throws with 16 seconds left to give the Lakers a 40-9 record for the season. It was their first game back in Boston since the 131-92 defeat in the deciding game of last year's NBA Finals.
Los Angeles guard Kobe Bryant drives the ball in the court against Boston Celtics. [Sina.com]
Boston's Ray Allen fell to the floor looking for a foul as he tried for a final shot in the last few seconds but there was no whistle and the Celtics' 12-game winning streak was over.
"I don't think (it was a foul), they play a physical game, and sometimes you get the call, sometimes you don't," Los Angeles guard Kobe Bryant said after scoring a game-high 26 points on just 10-for-29 shooting.
"It was a big game, we were undermanned and I don't think anyone thought we'd come in here and win."
Pau Gasol scored five of his 24 points in overtime and recorded 14 rebounds as the Lakers won the season series 2-0.
Guard Allen led the Celtics (41-10) with 22 points and Paul Pierce added 21 and eight rebounds. Forward Kevin Garnett had 16 points before fouling out with 4:22 left in regulation.
Tempers flared throughout the meeting between the NBA's two top teams.
Bryant and Boston point guard Rajon Rondo, who finished with 16 points and 12 assists, were both assessed technical fouls during a second-half confrontation.
Leon Powe of the Celtics and Los Angeles forward Josh Powell also got double technicals, while Garnett and Odom exchanged heated words in the third.
Odom, inserted into the starting lineup after center Andrew Bynum went down with a knee injury on Saturday, collected 18 of his 20 points after the first half.
"I said a little prayer to my mother and knocked (the final free throws) down," said Odom, who came through despite the Lakers shooting just 17-for-29 from the charity stripe.
"This is a big win for us but we won't feel any revenge until we play them in a seven-game series, and hopefully beat them."
For the Celtics, it was the second time this season they had a lengthy win streak snapped by Los Angeles.
Boston entered Christmas Day having won 19 straight before a 92-83 loss to the Lakers sent them into a 2-7 slump.
In the only two other games on the night, the Utah Jazz roughed up the Dallas Mavericks 115-87 and the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Indiana Pacers 99-94.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, Deron Williams shook off a deep thigh bruise and scored 34 points and handed out 12 assists to lead Utah to a rout of Dallas.
Kyle Korver scored a season-high 20 points in his first start of the season, Ronnie Brewer scored 17 and Mehmet Okur added 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz.
Josh Howard led Dallas with 18 points and Dirk Nowitzki scored 14, but the Mavericks saw their four-game winning streak end. It was Dallas' first loss since coach Rick Carlisle put Jason Kidd in charge of calling plays.
In Philadelphia, Samuel Dalembert had 18 points and 20 rebounds, and Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala also had double-doubles to lead Philadelphia over Indiana.
Hours earlier, the Sixers learned power forward Elton Brand needed season-ending surgery.
Indiana dropped its third straight game.
(Agencies via Shanghai Daily February 7, 2009)