Lakers 126, Clippers 86
LOS ANGELES (AP)
Derek Fisher could never remember having a cross word with Baron Davis in their careers until Davis unleashed a whole volley of them, along with a couple of dangerous elbows.
Fisher just chalked it up to the stress of a 40-point loss - and the woes of playing for the Clippers in the Lakers' town.
Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, Pau Gasol returned from a six-game injury absence with 20 points and six rebounds, and the Lakers re-established their dominance in Los Angeles with a 126-86 victory over the Clippers on Friday night.
Nine days after the Clippers ended a nine-game losing streak to the Lakers, Bryant's club posted its largest win of the season and its biggest margin of victory over the Clippers since the Staples Center's co-tenants moved up from San Diego in 1984.
The rivalry also got a bit of spice from the point guards' third-quarter confrontation.
``He and I have had a good relationship over the years, but it's part of the game,'' Fisher said. ``I didn't take it personally. When you're in the game, when your team's losing the way they were losing, you're going to react.''
After Fisher and Gasol trapped Davis in a corner near the Lakers' bench, Fisher swiped aggressively at the ball. Davis responded with a swinging elbow into Gasol's chest, knocking the 7-footer back and incurring a flagrant foul.
Davis and Fisher then confronted each other face-to-face, with Davis shouting and gesturing while Bryant got in between. Davis then shoved his way free of Bryant and continued yelling at Fisher while being led away.
``In the second half, they were real scrappy,'' Davis said. ``They were definitely playing with a little more aggressiveness, and that's what they do. They slap, they grab, they try to bully you. And that's what they were able to do. They were able to bully us tonight.''
Eric Gordon and Craig Smith scored 17 points apiece for the Clippers, who got the defending champions' attention last week with a 102-91 victory. Andrew Bynum had 20 points and seven rebounds as the Lakers took control of the rematch with an impressive third quarter, scoring 12 straight points early and expanding a three-point halftime lead to 24 with a 33-11 run before coasting to a season-best 73-point half.
The Clippers lost their third straight without leading scorer Chris Kaman, who has a sore lower back - but at least Davis, who had 14 points and seven assists, put up a fight.
``We were ready to have a good half,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. ``That brouhaha with Davis, I thought that was what we had to have. Instead of letting him muscle our guards around, it was good that someone stood up to him.''
A sore back and the white brace on his broken finger didn't stop Bryant from making some of the second half's biggest shots. He hit a 3-pointer from two steps behind the line to put the Lakers up by 20 in the third quarter, and another 3-pointer put the Lakers ahead 100-70 early in the fourth before sitting down with 8:23 to play.
The Lakers still aren't totally healthy, given Bryant's litany of minor injuries, but they've maintained the NBA's best record (31-9) despite their woes.
``They probably had a little chip on their shoulders (from the previous meeting),'' Clippers forward Marcus Camby said. ``We played a good first half and were together on defense. The second half was a totally different story. Our inability to make shots and our lack of defense was giving those guys everything - layups, 3-point shots, and they were getting to the free throw line.''
Gasol's return from a hamstring injury meant the Lakers had all 13 players available for the first time this season. Gasol missed the season's first 11 games with another hamstring injury, while Luke Walton and Ron Artest also have missed stretches.
``If we move the ball and play defense the way we did, especially in the second half, we'll be a tough team to beat,'' Gasol said.
NOTES: The Lakers will reach the midway point of the regular season Monday night against Orlando in a rematch of last season's NBA finals. ... Los Angeles' NBA teams faced each other one night after the NHL's Los Angeles Kings beat the Anaheim Ducks in the same building. UCLA's men's basketball team will host USC on Saturday. ... Gordon was both excited and surprised to hear he'll compete with Toronto's DeMar DeRozan in a ``dunk-in'' for a spot in the All-Star weekend slam dunk contest. Saying the invitation surprised him because he rarely gets a chance to dunk in games, the 6-foot-3 Gordon promised ``a few surprises'' on Feb. 12. ... Courtside fans included actors Will Ferrell and Bryan Brown, ``Family Guy'' creator Seth MacFarlane and Dodgers CF Matt Kemp, who agreed to a new two-year, $10.95 million contract earlier in the day.