Lakers knock off Clippers in LA rivalry
LOS ANGELES (AP)
Kobe Bryant retreated to the locker room late in the second quarter, pain radiating through his right arm after he banged his funny bone.
He came roaring back after halftime with a shooting performance that turned the Los Angeles Lakers' cross-hallway rivalry game into a laugher.
Bryant scored 18 of his 24 points in the third, Pau Gasol added 22 points, and the Lakers won their third game in four days out of the All-Star break, beating the weary Los Angeles Clippers 108-95 Friday night.
The All-Star game MVP outscored the Clippers all by himself in the third, hitting two 3-pointers among his eight baskets while also racking up three assists. Just as he did last Sunday against the NBA's best, Bryant thoroughly took over for the Lakers, who seem to be right back on track after losing three straight before the All-Star weekend.
''I've had it before,'' Bryant said, recalling a similar injury last year in Sacramento. ''I've been playing basketball since I was 2. I can shoot the ball different ways. I don't have to shoot it like I normally shoot it.''
Bryant got hurt while defending Randy Foye shortly before halftime, getting called for a phantom foul that infuriated him nearly as much as the injury. Bryant said he couldn't extend his elbow fully, but the Clippers sure couldn't tell.
''I thought we did a poor job of getting in his way and making it a little tougher,'' Blake Griffin said. ''A lot of shots he had were contested, but he hit them. You have to give him credit.''
Andrew Bynum had 16 points and 11 rebounds in another breezy win for the Lakers, who had lost three straight before co-hosting the All-Star weekend with the Clippers. Bryant and Gasol took the fourth quarter off, getting plenty of rest for Sunday's road showdown with revamped Oklahoma City.
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''Kobe kind of faked them out with that dead-arm thing, and he scored a lot of points,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said with a grin. ''(At halftime) we talked about who wants this game more. Seems like sometimes when we play our crosstown rivals, they're more energized for the game than we are, and I thought that happened in the first half.''
Foye scored 24 points while hitting five 3-pointers for the Clippers, who finally finished an 11-game road trip with nine losses. Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds as the Clippers wrapped up the longest road trip for any NBA team this season - a trip that's thought to be the second-longest in league history.
''Any time we play those guys, even if it's our home game, it feels like an away game,'' said Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who had eight rebounds and blocked three shots. ''You're in L.A. This is the Lakers. Everybody is a Laker fan here.''
Griffin had another high-energy game in the same arena where he jumped over a car last weekend, but he couldn't stop the two-time defending NBA champions from leaping past them in the second half.
Clippers rookie Eric Bledsoe struggled in place of traded point guard Baron Davis, managing just eight points on 2-for-11 shooting and eight assists. Center Chris Kaman had 10 points and nine rebounds in his fourth game back from a 2 1/2-month absence with a sprained left ankle.
After spending most of the month away while the Grammys and the All-Stars occupied Staples Center, the Clippers will play their first home game since Feb. 2 on Saturday night - but it's against the Boston Celtics, giving them back-to-back games against both defending conference champions to cap a stretch of four games in five days after the break.
''It always helps to be back home,'' Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. ''It's still a road game with their crowd and things, but we're looking forward to tomorrow night. We actually have a home game, but no easy ones. The schedule hasn't been in our favor, with everything we've had to deal with.''
''We've got a lot of new guys and a big trade that just went down,'' Foye said. ''We haven't had our whole team together the whole year. I think it's about three games. When our whole team is out there, people can really judge us.''
NOTES: Lakers F Matt Barnes will make the trip to Oklahoma City, but Jackson doesn't think he'll play. He has been out for six weeks after tearing cartilage in his knee. ... Clippers G Eric Gordon said he hopes to play next week, but isn't certain of an exact return date. The 24.1-points-per-game scorer has been out since Jan. 25 with a sprained right wrist and a small broken bone in the same joint. ... Fans near courtside included Steve Carell, Heather Locklear, Dr. Drew Pinsky and director Adam McKay.