AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - In a season full of turmoil and frustration, this would have been a particularly exasperating loss for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Steve Nash, one of the most accurate free throw shooters in NBA history had missed two, giving the Detroit Pistons one more chance at a game-winning shot Sunday. Kyle Singler lobbed the ball toward the basket, and rookie Andre Drummond tried a one-handed all-oop dunk with Pau Gasol defending.
No good. The Lakers held on for a 98-97 victory.
"Every game is like a playoff game for us right now," Los Angeles coach Mike D'Antoni said.
Gasol had 23 points and 10 rebounds. The Lakers blew an 18-point third-quarter lead but won for the fifth time in six games.
L.A., which trails eighth-place Houston by 3 1/2 games in the Western Conference playoff race, has won two in a row without Dwight Howard. The All-Star center is out with a right shoulder problem.
Kobe Bryant's driving three-point play with 1:09 left gave L.A. a 98-95 lead, and it held on despite missing four free throws in the final 16.8 seconds. Bryant had 18 points and five assists but shot poorly.
Nash - a 90.4 percent foul shooter for his career - missed two free throws with 2.7 seconds left, dropping him just behind Mark Price for the top free throw percentage in NBA history for players with at least 1,200 attempts.
"I feel bad that it could've cost us the game and that I choked two up there," Nash said.
• Celtics 106, Clippers 104: In Boston, Paul Pierce scored 22 points, including a clinching three-pointer with 2.5 seconds left, and Boston held off a late comeback to beat L.A. and improve to 4-0 since losing Rajon Rondo for the season to a torn knee ligament. Jamal Crawford, who made a three at the buzzer, had 23 points for the Clippers.
• Heat 100, Raptors 85: In Toronto, LeBron James scored 30 points, Chris Bosh had 28 against his former team and Miami won to ensure that Erik Spolestra will coach the Eastern Conference All-Stars.