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Lakers 104, Hornets 96

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers made up for a brutal stretch before the half to take control once more in the fourth quarter, pulling out a crucial 104-96 win over the visiting New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant had 23 of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers utilized a 10-4 run midway through the fourth quarter to create a big enough cushion to seal out the win. And it was an important one for Los Angeles, which barely clings to the Western Conference No. 8 seed over Utah, which fell to Oklahoma City, 90-80, on Tuesday.

Los Angeles found itself in prime position early, building a 27-22 first quarter lead after holding the Hornets to just 38 percent shooting. The Lakers led by as much as 10 midway through the second quarter before going ice cold as New Orleans went on a tear.

The Hornets used a 17-2 stretch to end the first half to take a 50-45 lead into the break as Eric Gordon lit up, scoring 13 points during the spurt. New Orleans outscored the Lakers 28-18 in the second quarter, holding Los Angeles to 38 percent shooting.

The Lakers turned it on again late, though, behind Bryant.

Bryant had 26 points in the second half to lead the Lakers and Pau Gasol added 22 points and 11 rebounds. Dwight Howard had 19 points and six rebounds and Antawn Jamison had 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

Gordon had 22 points to lead New Orleans and rookie center Anthony Davis had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Greivis Vasquez added 11 points and 11 assists and Ryan Anderson added 14 points off the bench.

NOTES: The Lakers remain plagued by injuries as Steve Nash (hamstring) and Jordan Hill (hip) missed the game and Bryant (foot), Pau Gasol (foot), Dwight Howard (shoulder), Antawn Jamison (wrist) and Metta World Peace (knee) played through pain. ... Austin Rivers (hand) and Jason Smith (labrum) remain out for the Hornets. ... Los Angeles entered the game with a 3-0 season series lead over New Orleans after sweeping the Hornets the last two seasons. The Lakers entered the game on an 8-2 streak against New Orleans. ... Bryant had 42 points in the Lakers' 108-102 March 6 win over New Orleans as Los Angeles came from 25 behind in the fourth quarter. ... Davis leads the NBA in double-doubles with 18 and Vasquez leads the NBA in total assists with 687 entering the game. The duo leads the NBA in field goals assisted by one player as Vasquez has assisted nearly 48 percent of Davis' 335 field goals. ... Vasquez' 24 double-doubles rank second among guards in the NBA. ... Bryant's 25 points in a 109-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on April 7 put him above the 2,000-point mark for the eighth time in his career. He became just the fourth player in history to score 2,000 points after turning 34 and eclipsed Wilt Chamberlain for fourth on the career scoring list earlier this year.
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