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Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010

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Hard shoulder: New Orleans' Pops Mensah-Bonsu (left) and Milwaukee's Jon Brockman scramble for a loose ball on Sunday. AP PHOTO

Gasol, Lakers bash Blazers

LOS ANGELES (AP) Although Pau Gasol was caught a bit by surprise when Steve Blake lobbed a pass off the backboard to him during a 2-on-nobody fast break, the 216-cm Spaniard still snagged it and slammed it home with gusto.

Not much is getting past Gasol or the Los Angeles Lakers — and the two-time defending champions' opponents haven't stood much of a chance during a sublime start to the season.

Gasol had 20 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists while completing his fourth career triple-double by the third quarter, and the Lakers easily improved to 7-0 for the fifth time in franchise history with a 121-96 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.

Gasol clinched his first triple-double since Feb. 17, 2009, with an assist on Ron Artest's basket with 3:10 left in the third quarter. He sheepishly acknowledged knowing how many assists he needed to hit the mark, but praised his teammates for making his feat possible in another formidable win for the streaking champs.

"We've been through so many battles, and we're still growing as a team," Gasol said. "Everybody is growing up together."

The Lakers might keep growing, but it's tough to believe they could play much better. Even coach Phil Jackson couldn't find many nits to pick, directing effusive praise at Gasol and Lamar Odom, who had 21 points and 12 rebounds.

"Lamar Odom, right now, he's an All-Star," Portland coach Nate McMillan echoed.

Kobe Bryant scored 12 points and Artest played stringent defense on Portland star Brandon Roy for Los Angeles, which led by 24 points in the first half and 29 down the stretch while outrebounding the Blazers 49-25.

"We're a pretty good team," Bryant said. "We're just playing extremely well together. We're a deep team, we're an unselfish team, and this is what you get."

Shannon Brown hit three 3-pointers while scoring 15 points for the Lakers, who also started 7-0 two years ago and in 2001-02, when they began their roll to their first three-peat under Jackson.

Rockets 120, Timberwolves 94

In Houston, Luis Scola scored 24 points and Kevin Martin added 21 to help the Rockets win their first game of the season with a rout of Minnesota.

Yao Ming, playing under a strict time limit while recovering from foot surgery, had 13 points and four rebounds in 16 minutes. Shane Battier added 17 points for Houston, which lost its first five games.

Minnesota lost for the sixth time in seven games. Kevin Love led the Timberwolves with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Michael Beasley added 15 points.

Celtics 92, Thunder 83

In Oklahoma City, Ray Allen scored 19 points and Boston's bench helped prevent a big lead from slipping away in the fourth quarter as the Celtics opened a four-game road trip with a win over the Thunder.

Kevin Durant scored 34 points and Russell Westbrook had 16 points and 10 assists to lead Oklahoma City.

Suns 118, Hawks 114

In Atlanta, Jason Richardson scored 21 points and Steve Nash added 19 as Phoenix dealt the hosts their first loss of the season.

There were four ties in the fourth quarter but the Hawks, who trailed by 18 in the third period, could not take the lead.

Nash, who had 15 assists, made four free throws in the final 7 seconds to protect the lead.

Joe Johnson had 34 points and Al Horford added 30 — one shy of his career high — for Atlanta. Johnson and Horford each set season scoring highs.

76ers 106, Knicks 96

In New York, Elton Brand scored 20 points, and Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday each had 19 as Philadelphia beat the Knicks.

Evan Turner, the No. 2 pick and last season's college player of the year, added 14 points and 10 rebounds in his first NBA start as the 76ers snapped the Knicks' two-game winning streak. Turner started in place of Andre Iguodala, out with a strained right Achilles tendon.

Amare Stoudemire had 21 points and 15 rebounds for New York.

Pistons 102, Warriors 97

In Auburn Hills, Mich. Richard Hamilton scored 27 points and Rodney Stuckey added 21 points and nine assists to help Detroit beat Golden State.

The Pistons have now won two straight after losing their first five games of the season.

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