INDIANAPOLIS – Ron Artest scored a season-high 30 points leading the Indiana Pacers to a 102-90 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Friday night.

Artest, who shot 10-for-15 from the field, was one of four Pacers in double figures. Jermaine O’Neal had 20 points, reserve guard Anthony Johnson had 15 of his 19 points in the third period, and Stephen Jackson finished with 15.

Vince Carter led the Nets with 18 points. He sat out the fourth quarter with the outcome all but determined.

Artest and Jackson were perfect from the field in the first period. Artest hit all five of his shots while scoring 13 points. Jackson was 4-for-4 in the period and had 10 points as the Pacers opened a 28-23 advantage.

The Nets, without starting forward Jason Collins, who sat out because of a muscle strain in his right leg, fell behind by 12 points twice in the second quarter and trailed 53-41 at the break.

Carter was the only Nets player in double figures in the first half, with 14 points. New Jersey shot only 41.5 percent from the field and was outrebounded 24-13.

Richard Jefferson, who entered the game with a 23.6 scoring average, was 1-for-7 in the first half and scored just three points. He finished with seven.

Mavs 98, Bobcats 88

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dirk Nowitzki shrugged off a back problem with 23 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 98-88 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night.

Nowitzki was a game-time decision for the Mavericks because of a lower back strain that sidelined him for the second half of Wednesday night’s loss at Philadelphia. Even during the pregame warmup he said he wasn’t positive he would play because it wasn’t worth “risking anything” this early in the season.

Yet he was on the floor at the opening tip and didn’t appear to be in any pain.

He helped Dallas open a 47-39 lead at halftime with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Nowitzki wasn’t Charlotte’s only problem: The Bobcats were partially done in on by their own shooting woes.

Charlotte shot just 35 percent for the game, and lacked much offensive power with leading scorer Gerald Wallace (16.2 points) out with a chipped bone in his right wrist.

Jazz 99, Raptors 84

TORONTO – Mehmet Okur had 29 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Utah Jazz to a 99-84 victory over the winless Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

Rookies Deron Williams and Andre Owens each added 15 points for the Jazz, whose commitment to winning was questioned by coach Jerry Sloan after a loss to New Jersey on Wednesday night.

Okur managed just two points in 15 minutes against the Nets, and did not grab a single rebound. He had nine points in the fourth against Toronto.

Chris Bosh had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors, 0-5 for the first time in their 11-year history. The fans booed the Raptors off the court after the game.

Cavaliers 89, Grizzlies 70

CLEVELAND – LeBron James scored 16 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Cleveland Cavaliers clamped down defensively on Memphis in an 89-70 rout of the Grizzlies on Friday night.

The Cavs, improving each time out under first-year coach Mike Brown, contested every shot, outhustled the Grizzlies to every loose ball and dominated the boards, outrebounding Memphis 49-29 while holding them to a season low in points.

Cleveland’s swarming defense – even the defensively challenged Ilgauskas drew two charges – held Memphis to just 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting in third quarter when the Cavs opened a 27-point lead.

The Grizzlies came in averaging 95 points on 47.3 percent shooting – the NBA’s fourth-best mark.

Wizards 137, Sonics 96

WASHINGTON – Caron Butler fed Antawn Jamison for a dunk, then reached out to slap palms with Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, an in-game celebration of an easy win.

At the other end, SuperSonics coach Bob Weiss put his hands on his hips, looking increasingly frustrated by another poor road showing.

Gilbert Arenas scored 32 points in 31 minutes, Butler added a season-high 24, and Washington pulled away early then kept pouring it on to beat Seattle 137-96 Friday night, the SuperSonics’ third consecutive lopsided loss away from home.

Jamison added 19 points and 11 rebounds, and rookie Andray Blatche – who missed the preseason after being shot during an attempted carjacking – scored his first NBA points, on a baseline jumper with about four minutes left, and finished with five.

76ers 85, Lakers 81

PHILADELPHIA – Allen Iverson outplayed Kobe Bryant in an anticipated matchup of the league’s leading scorers, scoring 34 points and sinking the winner with 22.2 seconds left to lead the 76ers to an 85-81 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

Iverson – having an awful quarter after he missed an easy layup, two free throws and was whistled for traveling in the fourth quarter – stepped just inside the 3-point arc and buried a jumper in the final seconds for an 83-81 lead.

Bryant missed a jumper over Andre Iguodala with about 5 seconds left, and Iverson made two free throws to seal Philadelphia’s third straight win.

Kyle Korver and John Salmons each hit critical 3-pointers in the final 21/2 minutes to pad the Sixers’ lead, but it wasn’t enough once Bryant finally got going.

Unable to find his shot all game against Iguodala, Bryant came through in the final minute with a three-point play and then another basket with 37.8 seconds left to rally the Lakers.


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