Lakers edge Mavs in over-time

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LOS ANGELES, California, April 16 – Spain’s Pau Gasol sank back-to-back three-pointers in overtime to spark the Los Angeles Lakers past the reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks 112-108 on Sunday.

Andrew Bynum had 23 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Lakers while Ramon Sessions added 22 points, Gasol contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds and Metta World Peace added 18 points for the hosts.

The Lakers won their fourth game in a row and improved to 4-1 without star guard Kobe Bryant, the NBA scoring leader who missed his fifth game in a row because of a shin injury.

At 39-22, the Lakers moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers atop the Pacific division in the NBA’s tightest division race. The Lakers have the third-best record in the Western Conference.

After regulation time ended deadlocked at 98-98, the Lakers took charge early in overtime on Gasol’s back-to-back shots from beyond the arc.

“I’m glad I was able to hit those shots,” Gasol said. “I stuck with it and my teammates found me. We worked hard until the last second of every possession. We were happy we were able to fight through everything.”

The Mavericks had a chance to level the game at 110-110 with five seconds remaining in overtime but Jason Terry missed a layup and the Lakers hit two free throws to seal the victory and finish a four-game season sweep of Dallas.

The Mavericks, who fell to 34-27 and stand sixth in the West, were led by Dirk Nowitzki’s 24 points and 14 rebounds, but the German star was only 9-of-28 in shooting from the field. Terry added 21 points and Delonte West had 20.

In Chicago, Derrick Rose scored 24 points, including a 3-pointer to force the game into overtime, and Joakim Noah added 20 points and 17 rebounds as the NBA-leading Chicago Bulls defeated Detroit 100-94 on Sunday.

Rodney Stuckey, who scored a game-high 32 points for Detroit, missed three free throws late in the fourth quarter to keep Chicago within reach and Rose hit a 3-pointer with six seconds left to send the game into an extra period.

Noah dominated in overtime with baskets and assists, and Chicago closed the game with a 12-5 run for the victory, improving their NBA-best record to 46-14 while the Pistons, eliminated from the playoffs, fell to 22-38.

Only Miami can deny the Bulls the best regular-season record in the Eastern Conference and only the Heat, San Antonio and Oklahoma City can stop the Bulls from having the best overall record and a home-court edge throughout the playoffs.

A Noah tip-in and assist on a Carlos Boozer layup put the Bulls ahead 92-89 in overtime before Stuckey drove for a layup to pull Detroit within 92-91 with 1:43 to play.

Chicago’s Kyle Korver hit a 3-pointer off a pass from Noah to put the Bulls ahead 95-91 with 85 seconds to play and Noah followed with a layup for a 97-91 Bulls’ edge with 29 seconds remaining.

Stuckey followed with a 3-pointer for Detroit eight seconds later, but the Bulls — unlike Stuckey — sank three free throws in the final seconds to secure the triumph.

Stuckey made only 1-of-2 free throws to break a tie at 81-81 in the fourth quarter and teammate Greg Monroe’s layup with 1:11 remaining to give the Pistons an 84-81 lead.

Boozer answered with a baseline jumper for Chicago just 15 seconds later to lift the Bulls within 84-83, and Tayshaun Prince and Monroe missed shots before Chicago rebounded with 34 seconds remaining.

Two fouls by Rose on Stuckey to stop the clock saw Stuckey make only 1-of-2 from the line each time, leaving Detroit ahead only 86-83 and Chicago close enough to equalize, which they did on Rose’s clutch 3-pointer.

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