Lakers Pull Away Late From Warriors

59632269Regular season win No. 42 wasn’t exactly pretty.

Playing without Kobe Bryant for the fourth straight game due to his left ankle injury, the Lakers on Tuesday night were at times as sloppy as Phil Jackson had described after the team’s practice on Monday.

Yet thanks to a 15-5 run to close the fourth quarter, LA improved to 26-4 at STAPLES Center with a 104-94 victory that counts the same as impressive Kobe-less W’s against Portland, San Antonio and Utah.

“We weren’t very sharp tonight,” said Pau Gasol after the game. “But we fought and pulled it through in the end.”

“Oh boy,” added Phil Jackson. “It’s just one of those games, but we managed to play the best with the two teams in the last three-and-a-half minutes or so.”

59631935The team’s lack of consistency didn’t affect Shannon Brown, however, who started in place of Bryant and scored a career-high 27 points – including 12 in the fourth quarter – plus a career-high 10 rebounds. His first ever double-double, which came on an efficient 11-of-19 shooting night, was particularly enjoyable for Brown after a disappointing performance at the Slam Dunk Contest.

“I did not know Kobe was out or that I was going to start until we had our pregame talk,” said Brown. “So I just had to come out and be aggressive. We know that coming back off of All-Star break it is usually one of those times when everything is not clicking right the way it was leading into the break, so we just had to come out and show skills on both ends of the court and we got a victory.”

His play certainly pleased his coach.

“Shannon had a real fine game and it was a real benefit to us,” said Jackson. “I just thought we needed the speed, the quickness and speed. Shannon gives us that and a little extra hustle all the time which helps our defense out and helps our total game.”

Joining Brown on Jackson’s individual list of praise was Andrew Bynum, starting for the first time in two games (bruised hip). The seven-footer joined Brown in making up for a poor offensive night from both Pau Gasol and Ron Artest by hitting his first seven shots and finishing with 21 points, seven rebounds and three steals.

59632056With Bynum’s return to the starting lineup came Lamar Odom’s return to the bench, but that didn’t keep the lefty from grabbing a game-high 18 rebounds (vaulting his season average to 10.0 per game) and adding nine points. While Gasol (5-of-14 field goals) and Ron Artest (5-of-13) struggled to score, they did combine to toss 11 assists, and Artest matched Bynum’s three steals at the defensive end.

Early on, the game didn’t look like it would require a fourth quarter push for the Lakers, who quickly built a 36-24 lead after the first quarter thanks to Bynum’s 4-of-4 and Brown’s 5-of-7, but the Warriors pushed back with a 27-18 second quarter. Then LA, re-focused, opened a double-digit lead in the third quarter before once again conceding the lead early in the fourth quarter before the game settled to an 89-all tie.

From that point on, L.A. would concede only five points while scoring 15, including six straight from Gasol leading into the team’s final eight points, all from Brown, that shut the door.

Up next for the Lakers is a Thursday showdown with Boston, but until then, your numbers:

27 Shannon Brown’s career-high point total, made better by his career-high rebounding total (10) in his first ever double-double.

19 Turnovers for the Lakers, resulting in 23 Warriors points, helping Golden State stay in the game.

18 Rebounds for Lamar Odom in 29 minutes off the bench, bringing his season average to 10.0, good for 12th in the NBA.

17 LA’s advantage on the glass (53-36).

15 Second chance points for the Lakers, compared to four by the Warriors, who managed just three offensive rebounds.