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Back-to-back success for Lakers

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol lead victory over the Warriors as L.A. improves NBA-best record to 44-10.

February 19, 2009|Mike Bresnahan

OAKLAND — Even at the NBA level, where the average salary approaches $6 million, a little extra work at the gym can pay off.

Trevor Ariza put in his bonus time over the summer by refining his outside shot, and Lamar Odom logged his extra court time more recently, sneaking into the Lakers' training facility late at night this week to work on his free-throw stroke.

They each played a part in the fourth quarter as the Lakers overcame a 12-point third-quarter deficit to topple the Golden State Warriors, 129-121, Wednesday at Oracle Arena.

With the game waiting to tilt a particular direction, Ariza made two three-pointers in the final five minutes, and Odom made all three of his free-throw attempts in the same time frame to push the Lakers to their ninth victory in the last 10 games.

Lamar Odom, free-throw king? Trevor Ariza, three-point specialist?

"No," Ariza said. "I just hit open shots, that's all. Teams still leave me [open]. If they're going to leave me, I'm going to keep shooting."

Ariza tied his season high with 17 points and made the first of his tide-turning three-pointers with 4:18 to play, bringing the Lakers within 109-108. His next three-pointer gave them a 111-109 lead.

Then Odom took over.

His rebounding spree -- 74 in his previous four games -- came to a relatively quiet end when he took only seven against the Warriors, but he made up for it in other areas.

A career 70.3% free-throw shooter, he was making only 60.4% of his attempts coming into Wednesday. He made six of eight against Golden State.

He made one of them after hitting a four-footer and drawing a foul, completing a three-point play that gave the Lakers a 116-112 lead with 2:30 to play.

Then he stepped in front of a weak pass by Monta Ellis with 2:05 left, made two free throws at the other end, and the game was all but over as the Lakers improved their NBA-best record to 44-10.

"It's concentration, living in the moment," Odom said. "I didn't have a great first half, so I knew I had to make some contributions near the end."

Kobe Bryant had 30 points, Pau Gasol had 24 points and 13 rebounds, and Josh Powell strung up a pair of season highs with 16 points and seven rebounds.

The Lakers found themselves sucked into the vortex of another 48-minute dash with the Warriors, as is the usual custom up here, where the final score was bound to resemble a video game when the league's top two offenses got together.

The Warriors (19-36) came in with a three-game winning streak, their longest of the season, but they were without injured starters Andris Biedrins and Kelenna Azubuike.

The Lakers are used to high-scoring affairs here, emerging with a victory last month, 114-106, when Gasol had 33 points and tied a career-high with 18 rebounds as the Lakers won despite the absence of Odom, Jordan Farmar and Luke Walton.

The Lakers barely considered playing defense in the first half, letting Jamal Crawford strike them for 16 points on the way to a 68-62 halftime deficit. Crawford, however, finished with 23 points.

The Lakers weren't entirely inept on defense -- Bryant went high in the air to block Corey Maggette's layup attempt with 40.9 seconds left in the third quarter -- but this was one for the offense.

Thanks to Odom and Ariza, the Lakers had plenty.


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