Pau Gasol had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who won their eighth consecutive game at Staples Center since Christmas. Until Bryant took charge, Los Angeles allowed a 19-point lead to dwindle to three in the final minutes of coach Mike Brown's first meeting with the Cavaliers since they fired him in 2010.
Bryant managed just seven points in the fourth quarter but hit two big jumpers down the stretch, giving him three straight 40-point games for the first time since March 2007, when he had five straight. Kobe is third in NBA history with 110 40-point games, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.
Kyrie Irving scored 21 points and Ramon Sessions added 12 for the Cavaliers, who have played eight of their first 11 games on the road.
NUGGETS 117, HEAT 104
DENVER (AP) — Ty Lawson returned from a sprained right foot to score 24 points, and Denver sent Miami to its third straight loss.
LeBron James had 35 points for the Heat, who have lost their last 10 games in Denver.
Nene added 17 points for the Nuggets. Rudy Fernandez and Al Harrington each had 15 points.
Lawson, who was held out of Wednesday's game against New Jersey, also had nine assists.
Dwyane Wade scored 12 points before landing awkwardly on his right ankle after trying to block a shot with 7:24 remaining. He lay on the floor for several moments before gingerly making his way to the bench. He did not return.
BULLS 88, CELTICS 79
BOSTON (AP) — Derrick Rose returned from a one-game absence to score 25 points and help Chicago hold off a second-half charge and beat Boston.
The Celtics had trimmed a 52-33 halftime deficit to 67-66 on a three-pointer by Mickael Pietrus with 10 minutes left in the game. Then Boston missed its next two shots, while Rose scored four straight points. Kevin Garnett responded with a short jumper, but Rose came through again with a three-pointer for a 74-68 lead with 7:30 remaining.
Rose, who missed Wednesday's 78-64 win over the Washington Wizards with a sprained left big toe, scored 12 points after Boston cut the lead to one.
Ray Allen scored 16 for Boston and Rajon Rondo had 14 points and 11 assists.
TIMBERWOLVES 87, HORNETS 80
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Kevin Love scored 34 points, Ricky Rubio hit the tiebreaking free throws in his first career start, and Minnesota beat New Orleans.
Rubio finished with 12 points and nine assists. Love had 17 points in the third quarter and also grabbed 15 rebounds for his 11th consecutive double-double. The Timberwolves finished 33 of 38 from the foul line and Love sank his first 17 before missing one in the last minute.
Marco Belinelli scored a season-high 20 points for the Hornets, who rallied from a 14-point deficit to the tie the score three times in the fourth quarter before losing for the eighth time in nine games and their fifth in a row at home. Emeka Okafor contributed 16 points and 14 rebounds. Jarrett Jack had eight points and nine assists.
SPURS 99, TRAIL BLAZERS 83
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Tony Parker scored 20 points to help San Antonio beat Portland and stay unbeaten at home.
Parker shook off a slow start as the Spurs (8-4) improved to 8-0 at home, their best start since the 2007-08 season when they started 13-0. Portland (7-4), meanwhile, lost its second straight game and for only the second time in its last 10 games against San Antonio.
Tiago Splitter scored 14 points for the Spurs, and DeJuan Blair and Danny Green each added 13. Rookie Kawhi Leonard had 11.
LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 29 points. The Blazers lost veteran centre Marcus Camby to a sprained ankle in the loss.
MAVERICKS 102, BUCKS 76
DALLAS (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki went over 23,000 career points, Vince Carter had his highest-scoring game in Dallas and the Mavericks stretched their winning streak to four games.
The defending NBA champion Mavericks (7-5) are finally on a roll after an 0-3 start. Dallas has won its last five home games since lopsided losses on consecutive days there to open the season nearly three weeks ago.
Carter had 11 of his 16 points in the first 6 1/2 minutes of the game. Jason Terry led Dallas with 17 points, including three 3-pointers.
Brandon Jennings had 19 points and Shaun Livingston 15 for the Bucks (4-7), who are undefeated at home but now have an NBA-high seven road losses. Milwaukee was without seven-foot Andrew Bogut, who was out because of concussion-like symptoms.
ROCKETS 103, KINGS 89
HOUSTON (AP) — Kyle Lowry's 25 points led five double-digit scorers and Houston beat Sacramento.
The Kings led at halftime, but Houston used a strong third quarter to take the lead and Sacramento never really threatened after that.
Former King Samuel Dalembert added 21 points and 16 rebounds, and Luis Scola also had 21 points and grabbed 11 boards.
Tyreke Evans scored 27 points for Sacramento, which has lost five of seven. Evans has scored at least 25 points in four of the last five games.
DeMarcus Cousins' streak of four straight double-doubles was snapped with a tough night. He finished with four points and four rebounds, going 1 of 7 after missing all of his six field goal attempts in the first half.
NETS 110, SUNS 103
PHOENIX (AP) — Deron Williams had 35 points, his most since coming to New Jersey at last season's trade deadline, and 14 assists as the Nets held off short-handed Phoenix for just their third victory in 12 games this season.
Phoenix, playing without Steve Nash and Grant Hill because of injuries, was down by three at the half before the Nets pulled away with a barrage of three-pointers. A rally in the final minutes by the Suns fell short.
Williams tied a career high with six three-pointers. MarShon Brooks scored 20, Anthony Morrow 16 and Kris Humphries 15 for the Nets, who snapped a three-game skid.
Ronnie Price scored a career high 18 in Phoenix's third loss in a row.
76ERS 120, WIZARDS 89
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jodie Meeks tied a career high with 26 points, Lou Williams had 19 and Spencer Hawes added 10 points and 10 rebounds to help Philadelphia beat Washington.
Led by their usual balanced offence, the Sixers led by 34 points in the third quarter and crushed the NBA-worst Wizards. All five starters reached double-digit scoring for the Atlantic Division leaders. They won for the seventh time in eight games overall and improved to 5-0 at home.
While the Sixers dominated the entire game, the real damage was done in the third quarter. They made 16 of 23 shots from the floor and outscored the Wizards by 20.
Meeks finished 10 of 11 from the floor and 6 of 7 from three-point range.
PACERS 95, RAPTORS 90
TORONTO (AP) — Tyler Hansbrough made two key free throws with less than 15 seconds to play and Indiana overcame the ejection of leading scorer Danny Granger to beat Toronto.
George Hill scored a season-high 22 points for the Pacers, while Roy Hibbert fouled out with 15 points and nine rebounds. Hansbrough and David West each scored 13.
Indiana has won two straight and four of five.
DeMar DeRozan had 23 points and Leandro Barbosa came off the bench to score 20 for the Raptors, who have lost three straight and five or six.
PISTONS 98, BOBCATS 81
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jonas Jerebko tied a career high with 22 points and Detroit won the race to three victories against Charlotte.
Both teams entered the game with identical 2-9 records and on lengthy losing streaks: the Bobcats having lost five straight and the Pistons six in a row.
The Pistons were able to snap their streak behind the inside play of Jerebko and Greg Monroe, who chipped in with 19 points and nine rebounds. The Pistons dominated inside, scoring 50 points in the paint through the first three quarters to open a 78-59 lead.
Byron Mullens led Charlotte with 18 points, the eighth time in 10 games he's reached double digits. Mullens, making his second start at centre, had 12 points in the first half on 7 of 14 shooting.