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Bryant looks just fine to Jazz

Lakers star returns to lineup, nets 21 points

Kobe Bryant scored 21 points in his return from the injured list and Gary Payton hit a clutch 3-pointer with 13 seconds left to help the Los Angeles Lakers snap a nine-game road losing streak with a 93-86 victory over the Utah Jazz last night.

Slava Medvedenko tied his career high with 26 points for the Lakers, who let a 19-point lead slip to 3 twice before sealing their first road win since a 114-103 victory over Dallas Dec. 4.

Payton scored 22 points, 18 in the second half. Medvedenko had 12 rebounds.

But the night belonged to Bryant, who had missed six games with a sprained right shoulder. He felt good during the team shootaround yesterday morning and was activated in the afternoon, giving the Lakers some welcome relief from injuries.

Karl Malone, who's out with a knee injury, didn't travel with the Lakers for what would have been his first game in Utah since leaving the Jazz as a free agent last summer, and Shaquille O'Neal (calf) is out until at least next week.

SuperSonics 102, Clippers 97 -- Ray Allen scored 17 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter and host Seattle took advantage of Los Angeles's 4-for-19 3-point shooting.

The Sonics beat the Clippers for the third straight time this season, following two season-opening wins over Los Angeles in Japan in October.

Allen shot 14 for 23, including 6 for 10 from 3-point range, in finishing 1 point shy of his season best. Rashard Lewis, who had a career-high 50 points against the Clippers in the second game in Japan, added 15 points, and Antonio Daniels came off the bench to score 14 for the Sonics.

The Clippers got 26 points and 16 rebounds from Elton Brand, 25 points and 10 rebounds from Corey Maggette, and 22 points from Quentin Richardson.

Warriors 105, Trail Blazers 87 -- Jason Richardson scored 31 points, including seven 3-pointers, and Golden State stopped a 12-game road losing streak with a victory at Portland, Ore. Erick Dampier had 20 rebounds and 18 points for the Warriors.

Darius Miles played for the first time since being traded to the Trail Blazers by Cleveland for guard Jeff McInnis and center Ruben Boumtje Boumtje. Miles scored 12 points in 20 minutes.

Cavaliers 95, 76ers 87 -- Eric Williams scored 20 points, Dajuan Wagner added 17, and host Cleveland finally slowed down Philadelphia star Allen Iverson in the fourth quarter.

Carlos Boozer had 15 points and 15 rebounds as the Cavs improved to 2-1 without rookie star LeBron James, who missed his third straight game with a sprained right ankle.

Iverson scored 32 points -- 21 in the third -- but the NBA's leading scorer didn't get his first points of the fourth until there were just 33.8 seconds left.

Hornets 98, Spurs 96 -- Darrell Armstrong capped a season-high 35-point performance by hitting a 3-pointer from 25 feet with a second left to lead visiting New Orleans over host San Antonio.

Armstrong finished 11 for 21 from the field and was a perfect 9 for 9 from the free throw line. His winning shot wasn't his only buzzer beater of the game, either. He nailed a 53-footer with a second left in the first half to close the Spurs' lead to 52-41.

Wizards 107, Pacers 96 -- Kwame Brown had a career-high 25 points and nine rebounds as Washington shot 63 percent in the first half and held on to beat host Indiana.

Brown made 8 of 12 shots, 9 of 10 free throws, and had the better in a matchup against fellow straight-out-of-high-schoolers Jermaine O'Neal and Al Harrington.

Brown, who has struggled for consistency over much of his career, is averaging 13 points and 7.8 rebounds over his last 11 games.

Heat 85, Knicks 77 -- Eddie Jones scored 26 points and added six assists, and Miami handed New York its first loss at Madison Square Garden under coach Lenny Wilkens.

The Knicks were without Allan Houston (sore knee) for the final 14 1/2 minutes and Stephon Marbury went scoreless in the second half on 0-for-6 shooting.

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