Thursday, March 25, 2010
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Bryant's 24 points pull Lakers over Spurs

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[March 25, 2010]  SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Kobe Bryant scored 24 points and the Los Angeles Lakers extended their winning streak to seven games with a 92-83 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

Lamar Odom added 19 points and Ron Artest had 16, but it was Bryant who put the Spurs away for good. He scored 10 in the fourth quarter, including two backbreaking 3-pointers that San Antonio couldn't shake off.

Bryant backpedaled to halfcourt with his shooting hand still hanging high over his head after both shots. The Lakers then eased out of San Antonio with a come-from-behind win to start a five-game road trip.

Manu Ginobili scored 24 points and George Hill had 21, but the Spurs got little help from anyone else. San Antonio had no other scorers in double figures, and got a dreadful 2-of-11 night from Tim Duncan, who finished with six points and 12 rebounds.

The Spurs led for much of the game, but after Bryant took over in the fourth, San Antonio wilted late against the best in the West. And the worst isn't behind the Spurs: Next up is LeBron James and East-leading Cleveland on Friday.

The Lakers, meanwhile, continued coasting.

Paul Gasol had 10 points and 12 rebounds as the Lakers headed for Oklahoma City on Friday on their second-longest winning streak of the season. It's the last lengthy trip for Los Angeles before the playoffs begin next month.

The Lakers left well-rested. Having played just twice in the previous seven days, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said before the game he expected some lively legs.

Sure enough, the Lakers had all the stamina at the end.

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Bryant pulled up over Roger Mason Jr. to hit his first of two 3-pointers in the fourth, putting the Lakers up 80-74 with 5:41 left. Two minutes later, another one from the corner stretched the lead to 11.

The Lakers ran away from a game in which they mostly trailed. Not until Shannon Brown hit a 3-pointer with 1:30 left in the third quarter did the Lakers take the lead for the first time since the first quarter.

Hill got off to a blazing start and had 20 at halftime, but missed all three of his shots in the second half and mustered just one more point. It blemished what began as another promising game for Hill, who made his 10th start in place of Tony Parker.

The Spurs fell to 6-4 without Parker, who isn't expected to return from a broken hand until the playoffs.


NOTES: Lakers C Andrew Bynum told the team Thursday that his injured Achilles' tendon is feeling better, but Jackson said he isn't counting on Bynum coming back before the road trip ends March 31. Bynum strained the tendon last week and was expected to miss two weeks. ... Bryant surpassed Alex English to move into 12th on the NBA's career scoring list.

[Associated Press; By PAUL J. WEBER]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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