LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 37 points, Pau Gasol added 26 points and eight rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers never trailed in their 14th victory in 15 games since the All-Star break, 112-104 over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
During a game filled with flashy plays and two more jaw-dropping alley-oop dunks by rookie Blake Griffin, the Lakers maintained a steady lead over their cross-hallway rivals for their NBA-leading 10th wire-to-wire win of the season.
Ron Artest added 15 points and Andrew Bynum had 11 points and 12 rebounds in his return from a two-game suspension for the Lakers, who have won six straight.
Mo Williams scored a season-high 30 points and Griffin added 22 for the Clippers, who have lost four of six.
In the final minute, 7-foot Clippers center Chris Kaman jolted 6-1 Lakers guard Derek Fisher with a physical pick on the perimeter. Kaman and Fisher started jawing and eventually were separated by officials, who ejected Kaman and called a technical foul on Fisher with 28.8 seconds to go.
This is nothing new for the local clubs. In their meeting on Jan. 16, Griffin, Artest, Lamar Odom and Baron Davis all were ejected for a minor scuffle with 5.7 seconds left.
At least the Staples Center co-tenants managed to end the streak of overtimes that has plagued their building this week, with two shootout victories for the Los Angeles Kings bookending the Lakers' triple-overtime win over Phoenix and the Clippers' double-OT victory over Washington.
The Lakers (52-20) also maintained their one-game lead over Dallas (51-21) for second place in the Western Conference with 10 games to go. The Mavericks visit Staples Center on Thursday.
Eric Gordon scored seven points for the Clippers on 3-for-14 shooting, missing his first 11 shots in his fourth game back from missing 24 games with an injured right wrist. DeAndre Jordan had just three points in his return from a two-game absence with pneumonia.
Before the game, Gasol pledged to donate $1,000 for each point he scored to Japan relief. Magic Johnson then vowed to match Gasol's contribution, adding up to $52,000 raised against the Clippers.
Bryant shot a season-high 17 free throws and moved easily on his sprained left ankle. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and got up smiling from a hard foul in the final seconds.
The Clippers had a fast break that would have trimmed the Lakers' lead to two points with 40 seconds left, but Artest swiped the ball away from Griffin off the dribble, and Derek Fisher hit two free throws.
The local rivalry game was the last of Lakers coach Phil Jackson's career if he follows through on his repeated vows to retire after the season. The game also might have been the last with just two teams in the metropolitan area, with the Sacramento Kings currently weighing a move to Anaheim for next season.
Jackson isn't among the many local fans of the would-be Anaheim Royals' prospective move, which would put three NBA teams within 40 miles of each other in a five-county area with nearly 18 million residents. The 11-time champion coach called it "ridiculous" to put another franchise in the Los Angeles area, claiming "it puts a lot of pressure on everybody in the area."
The Lakers made their first seven shots and jumped to a 16-point lead in the first quarter, which ended with a fearsome alley-oop dunk by Griffin on a pass from beyond half court by Al-Farouq Aminu.
Highlights came fast and furious in the first half, from Shannon Brown's floating-under-the-rim reverse dunk to another Griffin alley-oop. By the third quarter, Bryant conceded a layup to Williams on a 2-on-1 break rather than allowing an alley-oop to Griffin, the prohibitive favorite for rookie of the year honors.
Artest was at his eccentric best for the Lakers, following up a rare dunk by leaping in the air and flexing his biceps. He then celebrated a 3-pointer by blowing kisses in the air in the third quarter - but only after missing back-to-back dunks earlier in the period.
Notes: Bynum missed the Lakers' wins over Portland and Phoenix for a flagrant foul against Minnesota's Michael Beasley a week ago. ... In the second quarter, the Lakers' Matt Barnes reached behind his head for a rebound and inadvertently catapulted it back into the basket from a few feet away. Craig Smith got credit for the bucket. ... The Clippers have lost eight straight "road" games against the Lakers.
Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
0 Points for Clips leading scorer Eric Gordon through three quarters on 0-for-11 shooting. Gordon did manage seven points in the fourth quarter, making all three of his attempts. In related news, Ron Artest guarded Gordon for much of the game.
0 Lead changes in a game the Lakers lead from start to finish.
5 Games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the standings, as the Spurs have won six of their last 10 with L.A. losing only once since the break.
6 Combo of blocks and steals for Ron Artest, including a critical swipe of the ball from Blake Griffin in the final minute to help the Lakers lock up the win. He added two swats of three-point attempts. "He made some rather spectacular stops," said Phil Jackson.
17 Free throw attempts for Kobe Bryant, a season high by four (he took 13 four previous times), of which he made 14 en route to a game-high 37 points. Bryant hit 11-of-21 field goals.
$26,000 Dollars raised for Japan relief by Pau Gasol, who pledged $1,000 per point he scored tonight to aid those suffering from the devastating natural disaster in Japan. Magic Johnson pledged to match Gasol's contribution, and with the Spaniard going for 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting, a total of $52,000 would be sent.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson on tonight's game: "Well, I told the team I thought they squandered a lead in that second half. We didn't get off to a very good start in the fourth quarter. We made some plays down the stretch that were good defensive plays."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Ron Artest's defense tonight: "He made some rather spectacular stops. I wasn't a big fan of the two in the third quarter where he went down and missed his dunks. But the one where he took the ball away from Blake in a breakaway and he narrowed the game down to a standstill was a big play for us. You know, that's his forte, he's maybe the best at that."
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson on why Ron Artest's performance has changed: "I think just focus, conditioning and preparation. This is the fourth time we're playing against some of these teams and all that breeds into it."
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson on tonight's game: "We shot 50% from the field. We did some very good things in the ball game. I'm disappointed that the bench didn't play well, but you know, they're bench is very good. We stalled out a little bit from the first half to the second half with our bench. They have to start picking up responsibility on that and shoot the ball better."
Lakers' Derek Fisher on if he feels special about beating the Clippers tonight:
"No, it's just another win for us as a group and we're trying to continue to get better. We haven't played as well as we'd like to these last few games but the Clippers team has played us tough all year; every game we've played. Whenever you can win a season series against a team in the NBA it's a good thing."
Lakers' Derek Fisher on if he has started scoreboard watching:
"No, we watch what other teams do just because it's part of our culture to be aware of how other teams are playing, and what players are doing what things, as part of being prepared, so that if you do face one of those teams you kind of have a feel for what they're doing. Other than that in my opinion it's more about what we're doing than what other people are doing"
Lakers' Andrew Bynum on how he physically felt tonight after being out the last 2 games: "I feel fine. I was a little tired to start the game. The first ten minutes were a little tough, after that I was fine."
Lakers' Andrew Bynum on the hardest part about sitting out and not being able to contribute: "It was kind of different than sitting out and being injured because you really should be playing and you don't have a legitimate problem. It was a little bit different but all in all I got to enjoy the game, especially the Phoenix [Suns] game and it was just relaxing and resting."
Lakers' Andrew Bynum on their next game against the New Orleans Hornets: "It's a big game, we definitely want to get it, we want to win. The rest of the season we will try to make a legitimate push for the number one seat; that's our goal."
Lakers' Lamar Odom on guarding Blake Griffin tonight: "He's going to score. He touches the ball so much. He's so athletic and he's a great player, but overall, our team defense played pretty well. We kept him at arms distance all game."
Lakers' Lamar Odom on playing the Hornets Sunday and David West's injury: "You never wish injury on somebody. You rather have him play if that's the case. But they're a tough team with one of the best point guards in the game. They play well off of each other. It's too bad he got hurt."
Lakers' forward Pau Gasol on his '$1,000 per point' donation to Japan: "It was great. We're just creating awareness of how many people are suffering. Obviously, the natural disaster that [Japan] suffered is really rough. So I think that all the support that we can create and all the more that we can contribute, the better. This was a good way for me to be involved."
Lakers' forward Pau Gasol on if he was thinking about how much money he was donating during the game: "I was feeling good because the shots were going in and I was doing well. That meant a lot more than just having a good game for myself and for my team. When you are playing for something beyond the usual, which is not little, it makes you feel really good about yourself, especially when other people get benefitted from it."
Lakers' Kobe Bryant on Derek Fisher receiving a lot of criticism for possibly being overmatched: "He's solid. I don't know what people want from him. Do you want [Russell] Westbrook or Derrick Rose? That's not what this team needs. We have our chemistry and we have the pieces of the puzzle in place. That's what makes teams go."
Lakers' guard Kobe Bryant on how long it took people to appreciate Derek Fisher: "They still don't. They don't understand. Everybody gets caught up in the hype of these talented point guards and can't appreciate players who just do their job. They do what's asked of them, no more, no less."
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro on the game tonight:
"They were at the free throw line the whole night it seemed like. Kobe was at the line the whole night. Our intensity in the third quarter defensively was better I thought, but they kept attacking the basket and we had some tough calls go against us. Then we turned it over a few too many times. But our guys fought, we had some opportunities there"
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro on Eric Gordon's 3-for-14 shooting night:
"He [Eric Gordon] had an off night offensively, but the game is more than one side of the court. If you're not shooting the basketball well, I told him to just keep attacking the basket he caught a couple layups at the end there, [and] an open jumper. Eric's a good enough player where he can have a huge impact defensively in the game."
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro on this game being a measuring stick and what he takes out of it:
"What I take from it is we got to do a better job on the fundamental part of the game. We gave up two offensive rebounds on free throws, not boxing out Gasol tipped one out, Artest hit a three. Whether it's our tip in, their tip in, it doesn't matter. The bottom line is fundamentally you've got to rebound the basketball. We got beat on the glass. Their length bothered us at times."
Clippers' Eric Gordon on the Clippers effort tonight: "I thought we played hard and we gave it our best shot. We gave ourselves a chance to win today but we couldn't pull it off. I thought we played as hard as we could but somehow we couldn't be as physical with them. I don't know -- we just couldn't get over that hump."
Clippers' Eric Gordon on missing his first 11 shots from the field: "I was out of rhythm. I missed a couple of lay-ups and a lot of easy baskets. They played tough and tried to keep me out of the lane. They played pretty tough but I missed a lot of easy shots."
Clippers' Randy Foye on the difference in tonight's game:
"They got to the free-throw line a lot and they also hit a lot of open jumpers."
Clippers' Randy Foye on how the Clippers were able to stay in the game: "Our energy and our intensity were good. Our bench played well. Some of our starting group struggled but our bench came in picked it up and that's what a team's supposed to do.
Clippers' Mo William on if he sees the Lakers/ Clippers becoming a rivalry: "They're the defending champs. We've got a long way to go before we get on their level. We just accept the challenge."
Clippers' Mo William on the difference in tonight's game: "We played well, did what we had to do, got stops and we made shots, but they just made the plays down the stretch."
LAKERS VS. CLIPPERS GAME PREVIEW
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN, STATS Senior Writer
Kobe Bryant helped the Los Angeles Lakers survive two close calls without Andrew Bynum. They should be glad to have him back Friday night.
Bynum is expected to return from his suspension and provide an inside presence against Blake Griffin when the Lakers try to capture the season series from the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Lakers (51-20) have won five straight overall and seven in a row at home. The last two victories came without Bynum, suspended for a flagrant foul on Minnesota's Michael Beasley last Friday in a 106-98 win.
Bryant, though, has keyed the Lakers maintaining their winning ways, scoring 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 84-80 victory over Portland and a season-high 42 in Tuesday's 139-137 triple-overtime win over Phoenix.
Bryant just missed a triple-double against the Suns with 12 rebounds and nine assists.
"We're the champs," Bryant said. "We've got a lot of mental toughness, and we just keep on fighting. It's not anything new."
That contest was the first triple-overtime game at Staples Center, and the Clippers followed that Wednesday by needing two overtimes for a 127-119 home victory over Washington. Griffin recorded his first triple-double with 33 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists in a season-high 51 1/2 minutes.
"It means a lot, but the best part about it was getting the win," Griffin said. "It's always great to keep your teammates involved and keep them going, but you also have to give credit to these guys for hitting shots. It was pretty draining. We just needed to tough it out."
Griffin has matched Elton Brand's 2001-02 franchise record of 55 double-doubles, including three in three games against the Lakers.
Bynum has played in two meetings, averaging 17.0 points and 12.0 rebounds. Against the Lakers, Griffin is averaging 18.7 points on 36.4 percent shooting - his lowest percentage against a Western Conference opponent.
The Lakers center is one of the top rebounders in the NBA this month, averaging 14.5 in eight games. He has five straight double-doubles.
Bynum's return not only clogs the lane for Griffin, but it could make matters tougher on Clippers center Chris Kaman, averaging 23.0 and 11.5 rebounds starting the last two games in place of DeAndre Jordan(pneumonia).
Even without Bynum on Tuesday, three Lakers had at least 12 rebounds, with Bryant reaching double figures for the first time in 14 games since the All-Star break.
"When he wants to do something, he puts his mind to it," said forward Ron Artest of Bryant. "He was animated, and he carried us, and he trusted us when it most counted. That's Black Mamba for you."
The Lakers are 13-1 since the All-Star break to move ahead of Dallas in the race for the West's No. 2 seed. They are 2-1 against the Clippers, with Bryant outscoring them 18-17 by himself in the third quarter of a 108-95 win Feb. 25.
The Clippers (28-44) played that game without an injured Eric Gordon and had also just traded away point guard Baron Davis.
Gordon and Mo Williams comprise the Clippers' backcourt now, and they combined for 49 points and 13 assists Wednesday. The Clippers have won seven of 11.
"We showed some pretty good resiliency in the way we gutted it out and made some plays down the stretch," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Nothing is easy in this league, and we battled through it."
Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
As we prepare for our 4th game this season against the Clippers we try to remind our players of what the Clips do well with a special emphasis on the specific tactics they used against us. The majority of the Clippers offensive attack will revolve around their screen and roll game. With the addition of Mo Williams and a healthy Eric Gordon we know we will see these two handling the ball in a multitude of screen and rolls from all angles and at a variety of locations on the court.
SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lead the season series with the Clippers 2-1 with one game remaining after splitting last season's series 2-2. The two teams have met 188 times overall and on 122 occasions since the Clippers moved to Los Angeles. The Lakers lead the all-time series 140-48 (94-28 vs. LAC). Overall, the Lakers have lost just two season series in franchise history (1992-93 & 1974-75) to the Clippers. The Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 games overall against the Clippers. The Lakers are 19-4 all-time against the Clippers in home games at STAPLES Center, are 9-1 in their last 10 home contests and are winners of their last seven straight. On the road against the Clippers, the Lakers are 5-5 in their last 10 games as a visitor at STAPLES Center. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 33-10 versus the Clippers. In their first meeting this season, Derek Fisher connected on a layup at the buzzer to give the Lakers an 87-86 victory 12/8/10. Last season, for the third time in as many years, the Lakers established a new largest margin of victory against the Clippers since they moved from San Diego to Los Angeles prior to the 1984-85 season, defeating the Clippers by 40 points (126-86) on 1/15/10. (previous largest margin of victories were 38 (117-79, 10/29/09) and 37 (119-82, 3/7/08). In their meeting on January 21, 2009, Andrew Bynum recorded a career-high 42 points while becoming the first Lakers player other than Kobe Bryant to record 40+ points since 2003. In addition, Bryant posted his 16th career triple-double in that game with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. In 56 career games versus the Clippers (48 starts), Bryant is averaging 25.1 points. Additionally, Bryant has posted two 50-point games against the Clippers, most recently 4/12/07 vs. LAC (other: 50 points 1/7/06 @ LAC). Lamar Odom played for the Clippers from 1999-2003, averaging 15.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists. Steve Blake posted his first career triple-double (23 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists) as a member of the Clippers (4/14/10) in last year's season finale against the Lakers. Blake averaged 6.8 points and 6.1 assists in 29 games (10 starts) with the Clippers a season ago. Additionally, Clippers forward Brian Cook was drafted by the Lakers in the first round (24th overall) of the 2003 NBA Draft, averaging 6.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in 4+ seasons with LA.
LAKERS DEFEAT SUNS IN RARE TRIPLE-OVERTIME CONTEST
The Lakers triple-overtime victory over the Suns on March 22nd was just the fifth time they have played a game with three or more overtimes in the Los Angeles era (4th triple OT game). The Lakers lone quadruple-overtime game was a loss at Cleveland on January 29, 1980. Prior to their game against the Suns, the Lakers had not played a triple-overtime contest since losing 124-133 at Charlotte on December 29, 2006. Additionally, it was only the Lakers second home triple-overtime game in Los Angeles, the other coming in a 117-122 loss vs. San Francisco on February 2, 1969 at The Forum in Inglewood, CA. With the win, the Lakers improved to 2-2 in triple-overtime games (2- 3 in 3OT+ games). The Lakers only other victory in a triple-overtime game came in a December 8, 1961 victory at Philadelphia (151-147).
ODOM WORKING OVERTIME
In the Lakers 139-137 triple-overtime victory over Phoenix, Lamar Odom totaled a season-high 29 points, 16 rebounds and five assists in a career-high 55 minutes. Odom's 55 minutes are the most played by a Laker in one game since Nick Van Exel logged 56 minutes in a 109-104 double-overtime victory 3/3/95 vs. Sacramento. The record for most minutes played by a Laker in a single game is held by Norm Nixon, who logged 64 minutes 1/29/80 at Cleveland in a quadruple-overtime loss. Dale Ellis (Seattle) holds the NBA record with 69 minutes played in a 5-overtime game 11/9/89 at Milwaukee.
With 42 points March 22nd vs. Phoenix, Kobe Bryant scored 40+ points for the 107th time (regular season) in his NBA career and the third time this season. Bryant's other 40+ point games this season came in a 92-95 loss 11/28 vs. Indiana (41 points) and a 96-109 loss 1/30 vs. Boston (41 points). Last season, Bryant eclipsed the 40-point mark eight times, with the Lakers going 7-1 in those games. In the history of the NBA, only two players have more career 40-point games: Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173). The Lakers are now 73-34 all-time in games that Bryant scores 40+ points. Bryant holds the Lakers franchise record for 40-point games in a single season, recording 27 during the 2005-06 campaign. Bryant also holds the franchise record for most consecutive 40-point games (9), established during the 2002-03 season. Only Wilt Chamberlain (14 twice, 10 once) has had longer consecutive 40-point game streaks in league history than Bryant.
LAKERS CLINCH PACIFIC DIVISION
With a victory over Portland March 20th, the Lakers clinched not only a playoff berth, but also their 22nd Pacific Division title (41st season in Division) as well as no worse than a #4 seed in the Western Conference for the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Teams 1 to 4 in each conference are the three division winners and the team with the next best regular-season record, with the seeding of these four teams determined by regular-season record. The playoff-seedings of teams 5 to 8 are based upon regular-season record. With the win, the Lakers became the 1st team in the West to clinch their division. The playoff berth also marks the Lakers 58th postseason appearance in 63 NBA seasons as well as their 30th playoff berth in 32 seasons since Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the team prior to the 1979-80 season. Last season, the Lakers clinched a playoff berth on March 19th with a victory over Minnesota and a Rockets loss to Boston but didn't clinch the Division until April 3rd.
50 WIN SEASONS
With their victory over Portland March 20, the Lakers reached the 50-win mark for the fourth consecutive season and 32nd time in franchise history (31st time since moving to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season and the 29th time since the NBA adopted an 82-game schedule prior to the 1967-68 campaign). Since Dr. Jerry Buss took over the team prior to the 1979-80 season, the Lakers have posted 23 50+ win seasons. It is Phil Jackson's 17th 50-win season in 20 seasons as an NBA head coach.
JACKSON REACHES 600 WINS WITH LAKERS
With the Lakers win at Dallas on March 12th, Phil Jackson earned his 600th career regular season victory in Los Angeles. Jackson is now the fifth coach in NBA history to win at least 600 games with one franchise, joining Jerry Sloan (1,127 with Utah), Red Auerbach (795 with Boston), Gregg Popovich (793 with San Antonio) and Red Holzman (613 with New York). Including Jackson, only 22 coaches in NBA history have won 600 career regular season games, let alone with one franchise. Jackson, who established the Lakers franchise record for regular season coaching wins in February of 2010 (534th victory 2/3/10 vs. Charlotte), is the only coach in league history to win better than 70 percent of his games (1,149-480, .705). He currently ranks 5th all-time in regular season victories, 11th in regular season games coached, 1st in playoff games coached (323), 1st in playoff games won (225) and 1st in playoff win percentage (.697). The fastest coach to 1,100 victories, Jackson earned induction in his first year of consideration for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was enshrined on September 7, 2007.
NO CHARITY FOR BYNUM
In the Lakers March 8th victory at Atlanta, Andrew Bynum posted 16 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots but despite that physical performance, did not attempt a free throw. In doing so, Bynum was the first Lakers' player in more than 25 years to register at least 15 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in a regular-season or playoff game in which he did not go to the charity stripe. The last Laker to post a similar performance without going to the foul line was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game Two of the 1985 NBA Finals at Boston (30 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks in a 109-102 win).*
Kobe Bryant's 24 points in the Lakers victory over the Clippers (2/25) took him over the 1,500-point mark for the 11th consecutive season, marking the longest such streak by an NBA player since Karl Malone reached that milestone in 12 straight seasons (1986-87 to 1997-98).*
Pick n Roll
Play the Lakers Pick n Roll game for your chance to win tickets to a Lakers game. Just make your picks of which Lakers will lead the team and watch the game to see how you do. Be sure to play the Lakers Pick n Roll game every game home and away as a part of our season long contest.
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