LOS ANGELES Shaq won his matchup with Yao this time.
And the Los Angeles Lakers moved into a tie for the Western Conference lead with slumping Sacramento a feat that seemed out of the question just a couple weeks ago.
Kobe Bryant scored 26 points, and Karl Malone had 20 points, 14 rebounds and six assists Thursday night to lead the Lakers past the Houston Rockets 93-85 for their 10th straight victory to equal a season high.
Shaquille O'Neal had 18 points and eight rebounds and Gary Payton added 12 points and a season-high 13 rebounds for the Lakers, who shot just 37.7 percent but outrebounded the Rockets 58-35.
Bryant also had seven rebounds, four assists and five steals.
The Lakers (52-23), an NBA-best 21-4 since the All-Star break, play four of their remaining seven games at home. The Kings, beaten by Dallas 127-117 for their seventh loss in 11 games, play four of their last seven on the road. The teams meet in Sacramento on April 11.
Cuttino Mobley scored 26 points; Steve Francis had 17 points and eight assists, and Jim Jackson added 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Rockets (42-32), who lost for the sixth time in nine games.
Yao Ming was held to six points and eight rebounds, shooting 3-of-15.
The Rockets won two of their previous three games against the Lakers this season, with Yao outscoring O'Neal 80-74 and outrebounding him 27-26. It was a different story in this game.
Kings 127, Mavericks 117
DALLAS Michael Finley scored 29 points, Steve Nash had a career-high 19 assists and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Western Conference-leading and suddenly struggling Sacramento Kings Thursday night.
The Kings lost for the fourth time in five games, and fell into a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers, who defeated Houston, for the top seed in the West.
Finley made seven straight field goals in one stretch. The first four came in a 10-0 run at the end of the first half that pushed the Mavericks ahead 67-50.
Nash had 20 points to go along with his 19 assists, the most in the NBA this season and a franchise record for a regulation game. Jason Kidd had 25 assists in a double-overtime game in 1996.
Dirk Nowitzki followed a 35-point, 18-rebound effort Tuesday against Cleveland with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Marquis Daniels and Antawn Jamison had 16 points each.
Mike Bibby led six Kings in double figures with 23 points. Chris Webber had 22 points and Peja Stojakovic 21.
Trail Blazers 88, 76ers 82
PHILADELPHIA Zach Randolph scored 18 points, and Darius Miles had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the surging Portland Trail Blazers.
The Blazers have won nine of their last 12 games and moved into a tie with the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Miles, acquired in a midseason deal, had his second straight strong game. He scored eight points in the fourth quarter, including two baskets that both times pushed the lead back to four.
A day after the Trail Blazers hit a season-high 61 percent of their shots and Miles scored 31 points in a win over Boston, Portland shot 49 percent.
The Sixers played again without Allen Iverson, out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Willie Green led Philadelphia with 22 points, Kenny Thomas had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Samuel Dalembert had 11 points and 19 boards.
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