Pablo Prigioni had a season-high 11 points and was a spark in the decisive 11-0 run midway through the final period as the Knicks finished strong one night after a fourth-quarter flop cost them in a loss at Boston.
Lou Williams scored a season-high 27 points in his best game since returning from knee surgery, but the Hawks committed 27 turnovers – most in the NBA this season – that led to 36 points and negated their 60.6 percent shooting.
Paul Millsap scored 18 but fouled out, and Al Horford finished with 17.
LAKERS: In Charlotte, N.C., Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 21 points and Los Angeles defeated the Charlotte Bobcats 88-85 for their first win since Bryant returned from a torn Achilles tendon four games ago.
Bryant was 8 of 15 from the field and hit two free throws with 37 seconds left in the The Lakers trailed most of the game, but cut the lead to 85-84 after Bryant drove the lane and scored a left-handed layup with 1:22 remaining.
He drew a foul on a jump shot with 37 seconds left and hit both free throws with some of the crowd chanting “M-V-P” while others booed.
Bryant came in averaging 11 points in his first three games.
He eclipsed that by halftime.
Bryant had 13 points, four assists and three rebounds in the first half as the Lakers staked to a 44-43 lead despite being outscored 28-12 in the paint.
Bryant looked good from the start, scoring eight points in the first nine minutes, doing most of his damage with posting up his defender.
CELTICS: Point guard Rajon Rondo should return to action in January, ESPN.com reported on Saturday.
Rondo traveled Friday with team physician Dr. Brian McKeon to meet with operating surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who examined Rondo’s progress and cleared him to return to full-contact practice activities.
He particpated in a 45-minute session on Saturday
Rondo underwent ACL surgery in mid-February, about two weeks after initially tearing the ligament. He’s been able to engage in limited-contact activities recently, including games of 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 with teammates, but needed Andrews’ clearance to dive back into 5-on-5, full-contact activities.
MAVERICKS: Star Dirk Nowitzki and coach Rick Carlisle missed the Mavericks’ game Saturday night against Milwaukee because of an unspecified illness.
Dallas assistant coach Monte Mathis filled in for Carlisle.
Nowitzki has played in all 23 games for the Mavericks, averaging 21.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. He missed the first
27 games last season because of knee surgery.
The Mavericks don’t play again until Wednesday night, giving both some time to recover.
BULLS: Luol Deng was back in Chicago’s lineup after missing the previous four games because of a sore left Achilles, and Kirk Hinrich sat out the Bulls’ game Saturday night against Toronto because of back stiffness.
Deng, averaging 19.4 points and 7.1 rebounds, had not played since Dec. 5. But the Bulls were again short-handed, with Hinrich sitting out for the first time this season.
Coach Tom Thibodeau says “hopefully it won’t be anything that lasts long.”
BUCKS: Guard Carlos Delfino had surgery Saturday on his right foot.
The surgery was performed by Dr. Donato Villani in Argentina.
The 31-year-old Delfino hasn’t played this season after signing a free-agent contract July 17. In eight NBA seasons, he has averaged 8.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists.