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Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009

Lakers breeze past tame Hornets

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant and coach Phil Jackson both thought the injury-depleted Lakers would get a stern early season test from the New Orleans Hornets. Instead, their visitors barely put up a fight.

News photo
Full tilt: New Orleans' Devin Brown fouls Los Angeles' Kobe Bryant during the Lakers 104-88 win on Sunday. AP PHOTO

Yes, DJ Mbenga and Shannon Brown were just that good.

Bryant scored 28 points, Brown added 15 and Los Angeles thrived again without its top two big men, beating the Hornets 104-88 Sunday night.

Mbenga had 10 points and 12 rebounds in his fourth career NBA start for the defending champions, who easily won their fifth straight game and second in a row without injured center Andrew Bynum and forward Pau Gasol.

Before he took it easy after halftime, Bryant replaced those big men by repeatedly getting the ball in the post. He also got strong efforts from players who sometimes don't play at all for the full-strength Lakers.

"We believed this was going to be a really, really tough game," Bryant said. "Because of that, everybody's antennas were up, and everybody was really focused. We got a lot of help from DJ, Shannon, all the bench guys. There are going to be nights when we struggle, and we'll need their help."

Bryant and Jackson haven't forgotten the Hornets were Los Angeles' near-equals just two years ago, when the teams battled down the stretch for the Western Conference's best record. But these Hornets couldn't keep up as Los Angeles opened a 27-point lead in the third quarter and coasted to a 6-1 start, with Bryant sitting down for good with nearly seven minutes still to play.

"We had a little easier time than I had anticipated," Jackson said. "We were really prepared for a rush that they make in the second half, and they never got to that."

Suns 102, Wizards 90

In Washington, Jason Richardson scored 22 points, Steve Nash had 17 assists and Phoenix maintained its dominance of the Wizards.

Pistons 88, 76ers 81

In Auburn Hills, Mich., Ben Gordon scored 23 points and Ben Wallace added 16 rebounds for the Pistons, who held Philadelphia without a field goal in the final six minutes.

Thunder 102, Magic 74

In Oklahama City, Kevin Durant scored 28 points, Russell Westbrook added 17 points and 10 assists and the Thunder ran away from the Magic.

Trail Blazers 116, T'wolves 93

In Portland, Andre Miller scored 21 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge and Travis Outlaw each had 19 as Portland built a big first-half lead and beat Minnesota.

Kings 120, Warriors 107

In Sacramento, rookie Tyreke Evans scored 18 of his 23 points in the second quarter and Sacramento beat Golden State to win back-to-back games for the first time in nearly a year.

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