—Kobe Bryant, Lakers, had 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in a 107-104 win over the New Orleans Hornets.

—Joe Johnson, Hawks, scored 34 points in a 116-104 win over the New York Knicks.


The LA Lakers are Pacific Division champions for the first time in four years and have a shot at the Western Conference title after winning their most important game of the season. Kobe Bryant, making a push for his first MVP award, had 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and the Lakers held off the N.O. Hornets 107-104 Friday night to move within a half-game of the conference-leading Hornets. Houston and S. Antonio, both 54-25, trail N. Orleans by one game in the tightly bunched West.


Joe Johnson kept the Hawks in control of the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, scoring 34 points Friday night in a 116-104 victory over the Knicks. Trying to end the NBA's longest postseason drought, the Hawks remained two games ahead of the Pacers with three to play for each team. Atlanta trimmed its magic number to two for its first playoff berth since 1999.


Carlos Delfino scored 24 points, Chris Bosh had 21 and the Toronto Raptors eliminated the New Jersey Nets from playoff contention with a 112-85 victory Friday night. Vince Carter had 21 points and Devin Harris added 19 for the Nets, who last missed the playoffs in 2001 season.

Tonight's top game

Spurs at Lakers, 1:30 p.m.

The Lakers trail the Hornets by a half-game for the top spot in the Western Conference.