Lakers 106, Clippers 100
LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Lakers keep winning ugly, but they don’t seem very concerned.
Kobe Bryant scored 10 of his 27 points in the last four minutes Friday night to help the Lakers beat the Clippers 106-100.
The win was the fourth straight and eighth in 10 games for the Lakers (46-23), who moved a season-high 23 games over .500. They trail the Pacific Division-leading Sacramento Kings by four games with 13 left.
But they haven’t had an easy win during their recent streak against non-playoff teams, barely beating Chicago, Orlando and the Clippers twice.
“Well, we won. That’s about all I can say about the game,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “We play to the level of competition I think more often than I’d like to say.”
“Tonight was just one of those days where we did not play up to our level,” O’Neal said. “That team over there is always going to be playing harder to try and beat us.”
O’Neal spoke to reporters for the first time on a game day since March 8, when referee Bob Delaney called two technical fouls on him in the fourth quarter, calling for automatic ejection, in an 88-83 loss at Utah.
“I’m still angry, but I’ll get over it,” O’Neal said.
“There’s going to be a time when we get the Lakers,” Maggette said. “Down the stretch they made some good plays and Kobe kind of took over.”
The Lakers took the lead for good with 3:15 remaining on a dunk by Bryant off an assist from Malone, making it 94-92.
Two free throws by Bryant and a dunk by O’Neal extended the Lakers’ lead to six points before a basket by Brand and two free throws by Bobby Simmons made it 98-96.
But Bryant made a basket with 1:10 to play and two free throws with 46.6 seconds left to give the Lakers a six-point lead.
“I don’t know if we can beat certain teams playing like that,” Malone said. “The competition will get stiffer and hopefully we can get to where we want to be.”
The Lakers entertain Sacramento and Minnesota next week. The Kings and Timberwolves rank 1-2 in the Western Conference.
The Clippers lost for the 10th time in 12 games and assured themselves of an 11th straight losing season.
Clippers guard Quentin Richardson, averaging 17.9 points, was a late scratch because of back spasms.
“You’ve got to win, no matter what,” Barnes said. “You don’t take moral victories.”
A basket by O’Neal to start the fourth quarter gave the Lakers a 10-point lead—largest in the game for either team.
But the Clippers chipped away, and two free throws by Maggette and a jumper by Doug Overton tied it at 90 with 4:25 remaining.
It was 74-66 entering the final period. All five Lakers’ starters were in double figures by that time—the first time that’s happened since Dec. 28.
The Clippers scored the last seven points of the first quarter to take a27-20 lead. The Lakers led 52-49 at halftime.
Bryant plans to play Wednesday night against Sacramento despite pretrial hearings Wednesday and Thursday in Colorado involving his sexual assault charge. Jackson said Bryant will fly to Los Angeles after Wednesday’s court action and return to the Eagle County court early the following day. … Clippers F Chris Wilcox missed his third game because of a sprained left Achilles tendon. … The Lakers won the season series 3-1 and have won 26 of the last 29 games between the crosstown rivals. … Lakers F-C Horace Grant was placed on the injured list with a tear in his hip, but decided to postpone surgery and will try to play again this season. Jackson said rookie Brian Cook will be activated before Sunday’s game against Milwaukee. … A bone scan performed on the left foot of Clippers G Marko Jaric revealed a stress fracture. Jaric, placed on the injured list March 12 with an initial diagnosisof a bone bruise, will be out at least three more weeks.