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Kobe, Lakers sink slumping Sixers

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PHILADELPHIA -- Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant did not bother to celebrate his homecoming with a cheesesteak. He did feast on the Philadelphia 76ers, however.

Bryant, who grew up near Philadelphia, scored 34 points Sunday, leading the Lakers to a 111-98 victory over the Sixers. It was his second-highest point total in the 16 regular-season games he has played in Philadelphia during his career, and he ran to six his streak of 30-point games this season.

"I'm surprised I have the energy," said the 34-year-old veteran who is in his 17th season.

He does take care of himself.

"I feel like I can run all day long," he said. "A lot of that has to do with diet and really being committed to it and watching what I eat. I came to Philly and didn't have a cheesesteak. ... When I eat poorly, I can feel it. You feel heavy. You feel sluggish, and I just can't do it."

Los Angeles coach Mike D'Antoni is far less surprised by Bryant's continued excellence.

"This is one of about 300,000 (great games) for him," D'Antoni said. "He's good."

Bryant shot 12-for-21 from the floor and handed out six assists as the Lakers (11-14) won their second straight. They dropped their previous four.

Metta World Peace added 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, Dwight Howard had 17 points and 11 boards, and point guards Chris Duhon and Darius Morris combined for 29 points for the Lakers.

Morris notched a career-high 15 points, all in the first half, while Duhon matched his season high with 14.

The Lakers made 14 of their 34 3-point attempts (41.2 percent), both floor highs this season. Duhon went 4-for-10 from beyond the arc, while World Peace was 3-for-4 and Morris 3-for-5.

Nick Young had a season-high 30 points to pace Philadelphia (12-12), which lost its third straight.

Both teams were short-handed.

The Lakers continue to be without point guard Steve Nash (leg fracture) and forward Pau Gasol (tendinitis in both knees). Los Angeles forward Jordan Hill was inactive due to a back injury.

The Sixers remain without Andrew Bynum, the center they acquired from the Lakers in a four-team trade last summer, as he's nursing bone bruises in both knees. Philadelphia point guard Jrue Holiday, the team's leading scorer, missed his second consecutive game with a sprained left foot.

D'Antoni said the win over the Sixers, combined with Friday's victory in Washington, represented "a good couple steps" for his team. "But that's all they are," he added.

Duhon said, "Any win is good for us right now. We've just got to get our confidence up. ... We're still doing it in spurts. Guys are starting to figure out that we've got to get our spacing a certain way."

Bryant scored 18 points and Morris added 15 in the first half as the Lakers seized a 60-50 lead. Los Angeles set a floor record by sinking 10 3-pointers in the half, on 15 attempts. World Peace, who notched 11 points in the first 24 minutes, and Morris each went 3-for-3 from the arc before the break.

Young countered with 16 first-half points, 14 of those in the second quarter.

Los Angeles extended its lead to 83-66 in the third quarter. Duhon scored eight of his points in the period, including a pair of 3-pointers in the opening minutes.

The Sixers crept back within 91-82 when Spencer Hawes nailed a 3-pointer with 8:27 left in the game, but the Lakers responded with a 14-5 run to make it 105-87. Duhon and Bryant both had 3-pointers in that flurry.

Hawes and Evan Turner each scored 16 for the Sixers, and Thaddeus Young had 14. Ex-Sixer Jodie Meeks scored 12 off the Lakers' bench.

The Sixers next play at Dallas and at Houston, but coach Doug Collins said he is less concerned about the trip than he is about the team improving at the defensive end.

"Our defense is nowhere near where we need it to be to win basketball games," he said.

NOTES: Bynum said before the game that his sore left knee, which has been bothering him more than his right, is feeling much better than it did a week ago. He will be examined by doctors Thursday, and at that point, he said, "Hopefully I'll be cleared for impact." He also said he was disappointed he did not get to face his former team but added, "I guess I'm just excited to play any game at this point." ... Collins said Holiday is probably would be sidelined a few more days. ... Even before Gasol and Nash return, D'Antoni said, "We have to have some problems solved," notably transition defense and offensive spacing.
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