Notebook: Lakers 111, Hornets 106

Posted Jan 30, 2013 2:20 AM

Dan Arritt, for

THE FACTS: Another game, another victory for the new-era Lakers. Kobe Bryant brushed up against a triple-double for the third consecutive game, Dwight Howard took advantage of his allotment of shots and L.A.'s bench nearly carried the team through to the end of the 111-106 victory Tuesday night against the visiting Hornets, the final game at Staples Center before the rejuvenated Lakers embark on a seven-game road trip.

THE STAT: Bryant finished with 14 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds He has 39 assists in the last three games, the most assists in any three-game stretch of his 17-year career. He also reached double digits in helpers in three straight games for the first time since January 2009.

QUOTABLE II: "People forget Magic [Johnson] was my first idol. ... My dad was 6-10 and I thought I was going to be 6-9, so I tried to do everything he could do and then I realized my growth spurt stopped at 6-5."

-- Kobe Bryant

TURNING POINT: Give the Hornets credit, they refused to go away. They trailed by 18 points in the second quarter before cutting the deficit to four with 2:45 remaining in the third, then fell behind by 18 again in the fourth before storming back within a point on an eight-foot runner by Greivis Vasquez with 2:04 remaining. Earl Clark scored the last of his 20 points with some fancy footwork inside for the Lakers, and Vasquez then air-balled a two-footer on the other end. Steve Nash and Eric Gordon traded 3-pointers before Antawn Jamison scored on a drive to extend L.A.'s lead back to 109-104 with 15 seconds remaining.

HOT: Clark, who rode the end of the bench the first two months of the season, sank a career-high four 3-pointers on five attempts and grabbed 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double this month. Howard shot 9-for-13 from the floor and scored a team-high 24 points, though he grabbed just four rebounds, matching his season low when playing the entire game. The bench also played a huge role in the win, as Jamison (16 points), Jodie Meeks (13) and Pau Gasol (seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists) allowed Bryant to play less than 35 minutes for just the second time this month.

QUOTABLE II: "Our second group played really well tonight. That's something that's going to be really important going forward."

-- Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni

NOT: New Orleans' bench combined for 32 points but shot 11-for-38 from the field (28.9 percent). Brian Roberts missed all six of his field-goal attempts, Jason Smith was 1-for-6 and Ryan Anderson was 6-for-15. The starters weren't completed immune, as Al-Farouq Aminu went scoreless in 17 minutes. Aminu had worked his way back into the rotation after sitting out six games in December, but Hornets coach Monty Williams probably won't put up with many more performances like Tuesday's.

QUOTABLE III: "A lot of our guys didn't have the game they've been having, for whatever reason, but we did have the kind of output, effort and intensity in the second half to compete against a team like that."

-- Monty Williams

GOOD MOVE: With Bryant taking over much of the play-making lately, Nash has been given the freedom to shoot more. He still believes in quality over quantity, however, and proved that against the Hornets by shooting 4-for-5 from the field, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range, and finishing with 12 points and five assists. His 3-pointer with 1:21 left in the game demonstrated he's still a dangerous threat down the stretch.

BAD MOVE: Hornets center Robin Lopez was whistled for his third foul while trying to guard Howard with 5:59 remaining in the third quarter. Howard missed both foul shots, but Lopez fouled Gasol while battling for the rebound, sending him to the bench for the rest of the quarter. With the Lakers in the bonus, Gasol stepped to the line and missed both his shots as well. Lopez returned with 10:49 left in the game and scored eight of his 16 points down the stretch, but the Hornets could have used him much earlier, especially with the way Howard was dominating the paint on the offensive end.

NOTABLE: The Lakers play their next seven games on the road. ... Lakers back-up point guard Steve Blake returned after sitting out the previous 37 games with a lower abdominal injury that required surgery. He finished with two points and four assists in 14 minutes. Chris Duhon was the odd-man out, failing to appear in a game for the first time since Jan. 4. ... New Orleans guard Roger Mason Jr. came in shooting 69.2 percent (18-for-26) from 3-point range since Dec. 29, but he played just three minutes, missing his only 3-point attempt.

UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Wednesday @ Phoenix, Friday @ Minnesota, Sunday @ Detroit. For the Hornets, Wednesday @ Utah, Friday @ Denver, Saturday @ Minnesota.