Kobe Bryant had another MVP-caliber performance his last time out, leading the surging Los Angeles Lakers to a comeback win on the road. The Los Angeles Clippers are quite familiar with such efforts from the Lakers star when he's wearing his home jersey.
Bryant looks to give his home crowd another memorable outing against the Clippers as the Lakers seek their 13th win in 14 games Friday night.
After scoring 52 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in Sunday's 108-104 overtime victory over Dallas, Bryant finished with 34 points and 10 boards in the Lakers' 117-105 win over Sacramento on Tuesday.
Bryant scored all 17 of his fourth-quarter points in the final 5:56, including 11 straight as the Lakers (43-18) took their first lead on two free throws by the 10-time All-Star with 4:04 to play.
"He really stepped it up, really took it to the hole, really took it personally,'' said forward Pau Gasol, who had 31 points, his most since being traded to the Lakers on Feb. 1. "We know what he's capable of doing. I know he can take over games. He's so gifted athletically and skill-wise. He's got a tremendous passion inside him. The way he attacked tonight, it was the kind of effort we need every night.''
The Lakers, winners of 12 of 13, have a three-game lead in the Pacific Division and open a three-game homestand Friday. They've won five straight home games by an average of 15.0 points since a 98-95 loss to Cleveland on Jan. 27, and are 15-3 at home since Dec. 9.
The Lakers have had the advantage over their city rivals while wearing their home jerseys lately, thanks in large part to Bryant being at his best in such games.
Bryant had 32 points and eight rebounds in the Lakers' 113-92 home win over the Clippers on Dec. 16, their first matchup with the Clips as the home club this season. He's averaging 40.0 points in his last four games against the Clippers with the Lakers logo on the Staples Center court, with his team winning three of those contests.
While Bryant had only 17 points and seven assists in his team's 113-95 road victory over the Clips on Feb. 23, he's averaging 28.5 points in his last four road games in the series. The teams split those contests.
The Clippers (20-39), who are 16 1/2 games out of playoff position, are coming off a 116-109 double-overtime victory over Sacramento on Wednesday that snapped a six-game losing streak.
After opening March with a 30-point loss to Detroit on Saturday and a 26-point defeat to Philadelphia on Monday, the Clippers managed to rally from a 17-point third-quarter deficit against the Kings.
"We kept plugging away. That's the sign of a good competitive team,'' said point guard Dan Dickau, who scored a season-high 20 off the bench. "We're out of the playoff race, but for us to salvage something from this season we need to continue to play hard and play together.''
Corey Maggette scored 25 points Wednesday, matching his average in two games versus the Lakers this season.
Center Chris Kaman had 17 points and 11 rebounds against Sacramento, his second double-double in three games after missing the previous four with a sore lower back. Kaman's only game against the Lakers this season was Dec. 16, when he finished with 18 points and 16 boards.
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