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Later in the quarter, Bryant drove through a crowd for a double pump reverse dunk while the overflow crowd of 18,405 gasped as if collectively punched in the gut. The Hornets looked a little wobbly as well, turning the ball over five times in the period while shooting 5-of-13.
The Lakers, who had eight turnovers in the opening quarter, didn't lose the ball once in the second and scored on 16 of 21 possessions.
In the final minute of the period, Bryant ran down the clock while drawing a triple team to the right of the foul line, then passed to Gasol in the corner for a rare 3-point attempt by the 7-foot center. The shot dropped straight through (only the 18th 3 of his career), giving the Lakers a 56-37 lead at halftime.
Notes: Hornets swingman Peja Stojakovic missed his third straight game with back soreness. Backup point guard Antonio Daniels (knee) also sat out for New Orleans. ... Paul, who owns the NBA record for consecutive regular season games with a steal at 108, had five steals in the first quarter. ... Phil Jackson got his 999th career victory in 1,422 games as a coach. Should Jackson reach 1,000 victories in the next 11 games, he would become the fastest coach to do so, passing Pat Riley, who did it in 1,434 games.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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