Kobe Bryant led a strong third quarter surge, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 108-95 win over the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center Friday night. It was the third straight win for the Lakers, who improved to 21-8 at home this season. The game, though technically in their home building, was the final game of a brutal road trip for the Clippers, during which they went 2-9.
The game was close in the first half, and was a 58-57 game (Lakers leading) with 8:11 remaining in the third quarter. Over the next 12 minutes, the Lakers went on a 40-15 run to put the game away. Laker fans collectively gasped in the first half when Kobe went to the locker room early with an injury. Kobe left the game with 3:03 remaining in the half, and was seen noticeably grimacing on the bench for a few minutes before heading to the locker room with trainer Gary Vitti.
However, it turned out to be a simple funny bone (non-)injury, and Kobe started the second half. He dominated the third quarter, scoring 18 points and nearly scored 20 but his dunk as the clock ran out proved to be after the buzzer. In the third quarter, Kobe outscored the Clippers all by himself, 18-17. Bryant had 24 points on the night, leaving him 10 points shy of Elvin Hayes for seventh place on the NBA all-time scoring list.
Pau Gasol had a highly efficient 22 points in 27 minutes, on 8-of-9 shooting, and grabbed five rebounds. Andrew Bynum had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who were able to rest their regulars in the fourth quarter in advance of Sunday's showdown in Oklahoma City with the newly fortified Thunder.
Randy Foye had 24 points, including five three-pointers, to lead the Clippers, who were without new acquisitions Mo Williams and Jamario Moon as they wait for Baron Davis to complete his physical with Cleveland. Blake Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, but was 7-for-18 from the field. The Clippers host Boston Saturday night at Staples Center, their first home game in 24 days.
For more information on tonight's game, be sure to read both Silver Screen and Roll and Clips Nation.