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Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012

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Good times: Los Angeles' Dwight Howard celebrates a dunk during the Lakers' 101-100 win over the Bobcats on Tuesday. AP

Lakers use late rally to erase 18-point deficit in victory

AP

LOS ANGELES — Beating the Charlotte Bobcats by one point isn't a true gauge of where the slow-starting Los Angeles Lakers are at the moment.

Neither were the wins they recorded in their previous two games against the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers and NBA-worst Washington Wizards, following a four-game skid that tested new coach Mike D'Antoni's patience — and his up-tempo offense.

All it means is that they can beat the worst of the worst. The real test comes in their next two games against a couple of vastly improved clubs, the Golden State Warriors on Saturday and New York Knicks on Christmas Day.

Kobe Bryant scored four of his 30 points in the final 1:26 and the Lakers had to overcome an 18-point third-quarter deficit to beat Charlotte 101-100 on Tuesday night, handing the Bobcats their 12th straight loss.

"We just tried to grind it out. I think it was a big lesson for us," Bryant said. "We managed to stick together. We could have folded, but we didn't. We stayed together and played hard."

Jodie Meeks and Metta World Peace each had 17 points for the Lakers, who won their third straight to match their longest winning streak of the season. Pau Gasol, back after missing eight games with tendinitis in both knees, had 10 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes and shot 3-for-10.

"My stamina was good," Gasol said. "I think I kept up with them pretty well and I pushed through those times when I got a little fatigued. I was pretty active and my knees are feeling much better than they were. I just have to be more confident out there."

World Peace, who had a career-high 16 rebounds in the Lakers' 111-98 victory at Philadelphia on Sunday, was not in the starting lineup for the first time after starting the first 25 games.

"I want him to play the 4, and we have to be able to change our team," D'Antoni explained. "I hate it for Jordan Hill right now because he is the odd man out, and he doesn't deserve it. He's played well and he is a good player. But for us to have a different team — a different look — Metta has to play the 4. . . . As soon as Metta gets more comfortable with that role, he will be very productive as a 4."

Bryant has scored at least 30 points in seven straight games, equaling his longest such streak since the final nine of the 2005-06 campaign. His longest streak of 30-plus games was 16, in 2002-03. He has 236 points during his current streak. The most he ever had during a seven-game stretch was 344 in 2006-07, including five games with 50 or more.

Bulls 100, Celtics 89

In Chicago, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer scored 21 points apiece and Joakim Noah had a triple-double.

Heat 103, Timberwolves 92

In Miami, Dwyane Wade scored 24 points, LeBron James added 22 points and 11 assists and the Heat survived a huge rebounding differential to beat Minnesota.

Hawks 100, Wizards 95 (OT)

In Washington, Lou Williams scored a season-high 24 points and Josh Smith had 17 points and 13 rebounds to lead Atlanta past the Wizards in overtime.

Jazz 92, Nets 90

In New York, Mo Williams scored 19 points, Al Jefferson had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Utah held on to beat Brooklyn.

Raptors 113, Cavaliers 99

In Cleveland, Jose Calderon scored a season-high 23 points, and Toronto won on the road for the second time this season.

Bucks 98, Pacers 93

In Milwaukee, Brandon Jennings scored 13 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and Monta Ellis had 19 points, leading the Bucks over Indiana.

Mavericks 107, 76ers 100

In Dallas, O.J. Mayo scored 26 points, Chris Kaman added 20 and the Mavericks snapped a three-game losing streak.

Nuggets 112, Spurs 106

In Denver, Danilo Gallinari scored a season-high 28 points and outplayed Tim Duncan down the stretch as the Nuggets beat San Antonio.

Warriors 103, Hornets 96

In Oakland, David Lee had 26 points and nine rebounds, Klay Thompson finished with 19 points and the Warriors brought their surprising road run home with a victory over the struggling Hornets.



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