MILWAUKEE — Shaquille O'Neal scored 24 points and Kobe Bryant added 20, including four in the final 36 seconds, as the Los Angeles Lakers erased an 18-point deficit and beat the Milwaukee Bucks 98-94 on Saturday night.
The victory moved Los Angeles (37-28) into a tie with Utah for the sixth playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Michael Redd scored 21 points and Sam Cassell 20 for Milwaukee, which was held to 30 second-half points in its third straight loss. The Bucks (32-34) dropped into a tie with Washington for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Bryant hit a 20-foot jumper with Gary Payton guarding him tightly to give the Lakers a 96-91 lead with 36 seconds to go. Cassell made a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left and Bryant hit two free throws with 4.9 seconds to go for the final score.
Los Angeles gave up an average of 108 points during the first three games of its six-game road trip, and allowed Milwaukee to score 64 in the first half. The Lakers stepped up their defense after halftime, holding the Bucks to a season-low eight points in the third quarter.
Redd made a baseline 20-footer to give Milwaukee its last lead at 89-88 with 3:34 left. Derek Fisher gave Los Angeles the lead for good at 90-89 on an 18-foot jumper with 3:12 to go.
On the Lakers' next possession, O'Neal scored on a hook for a 92-89 lead with 2:32 left. Milwaukee failed to score on its next two possessions and Rick Fox scored from the lane for a 94-89 lead with 1:14 left.
Milwaukee made only three turnovers in the first half, but the Lakers forced eight in the third quarter and the Bucks shot just 3-of-13. The miscues allowed Los Angeles to go on a 23-7 run to take a 72-71 lead on O'Neal's free throw with 23 seconds to go, but Cassell's free throw with one-tenth of a second left tied it at 72 going into the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee scored the first 15 points of the second quarter to take a 44-29 lead on Derek Mason's dunk from Redd with 8:33 to go. With O'Neal on the bench, the Lakers missed their first eight shots of the second quarter and trailed 64-49 at halftime.
The Bucks shot 59 percent in the first half, and made 8-of-13 3-pointers. They also scored 20 points in the paint and had 20 assists.
WIZARDS 89, HEAT 82: Jerry Stackhouse scored 37 points, and the Washington Wizards rediscovered defense in the second half to gain control of a close game and beat the Miami Heat 89-82 Saturday night.
Michael Jordan added 19 points for the Wizards, who need a victory in nearly all of their few precious remaining home games to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Washington had lost five of seven overall to fall into ninth place, and it plays 11 of its final 16 on the road.
Brian Grant had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat, who have lost six of seven. Travis Best also scored 16 points.
MAGIC 96, HORNETS 86: In Orlando, Tracy McGrady had 33 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and the Orlando Magic handed the New Orleans Hornets just their third loss in 13 games.
Gordan Giricek had 13 points and seven rebounds, while Drew Gooden added nine points and 11 rebounds. Orlando (34-33), which had lost three of its last four, avoided a drop below .500 for the first time in two weeks.
David Wesley scored 24 points, nine in the first quarter, to lead the Hornets.
CELTICS 81, PISTONS 71: In Auburn Hills, Paul Pierce scored 33 points as the Boston Celtics atoned for one of their most dubious losses.
It was the first meeting between the teams since Detroit won 118-66 on Jan. 31 in Boston — the most lopsided loss in the Celtics' long history. The 52-point margin also was the largest in the Pistons' history.
Antoine Walker added 17 points for the Celtics, who have won seven of 10.
Chauncey Billups scored 19 points and Ben Wallace had 21 rebounds to lead Detroit, which had won four straight.
WARRIORS 94, SONICS 88: In Seattle, Antawn Jamison scored 26 points, including a critical 3-pointer with 42.5 seconds left, as Golden State snapped a 14-game losing streak to the SuperSonics.