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Lakers get less than bubbly win over 76ers

At times looking flat as old champagne, L.A. finds little to celebrate in a 102-98 New Year's Eve victory.

December 31, 2010|By Broderick Turner

They finished the year with a modest two-game winning streak, the three-game losing streak that sent the Lakers into a little tailspin and their fans into a funk now a thing of the past.

It took all the Lakers had to muster up enough energy on New Year's Eve, but they eventually escaped a determined Philadelphia 76ers team, 102-98, Friday night at Staples Center.

It took Kobe Bryant scoring 10 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter for the Lakers to hold back the 76ers.

And it took a late defensive stand to stop the 76ers from coming all the way back.

"Well, they stayed very resilient, that team did, and found a way to get back in the game," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said about the 76ers.

The Lakers' inability to maintain focus throughout allowed Philadelphia to hang around even though it was playing without second-leading scorer Andre Iguodala, who has an Achilles' tendon injury.

A 14-point Lakers lead kept slipping away, all the way down to one point on a Thaddeus Young tip-in with 7:05 left.

The fans began to stir at this moment, many of them pleading with the Lakers to get their act together, to play better defense, to score some points.

Bryant went to work, scoring twice for five-point Lakers lead.

But the 76ers refused to quit, closing to within one point yet again at 96-95 with 2 minutes 45 seconds left on a three-pointer by Jrue Holiday, the former UCLA guard.

Again, Bryant scored for the Lakers.

But Bryant also turned the ball over, getting stripped by Elton Brand.

That led to a three-point play by Young, who scored on layup and was fouled by Derek Fisher. Young made the free throw to tie the score, 98-98.

Bryant, though, came back to make a jumper for a 100-98 Lakers lead, and the 76ers called a timeout with 1:14 left.

Bryant was four for seven in the fourth quarter, 13 for 24 for the game.

"You saw Kobe Bryant," 76ers Coach Doug Collins said. "He's the guy when they got in trouble, he made the big baskets. That's what he's done his whole career."

Pau Gasol, who had 20 points and eight rebounds, made the defensive play of the game, blocking a shot by Young after he got an offensive rebound.

"Pau made a big block and saved us inside the minute mark," Jackson said.

Still, the 76ers had five more opportunities to score, the last one when Lou Williams missed a three-point attempt.

The ball was knocked out of bounds and awarded to the Lakers. But then officials checked replays for several minutes to get the call right, and the fans grew restless until it was announced it was the Lakers' ball with 2.3 seconds left. Bryant was fouled and made two free throws to clinch it.

"I was really proud of our guys," Collins said. "They hung there. They battled."

The 76ers just couldn't deal with the Lakers' size.

Andrew Bynum, their 7-foot center, started for the second consecutive game. He had just eight points, but collected 15 rebounds.

Lamar Odom, now a reserve, had 18 points and seven rebounds for a Lakers team that scored 50 points in the paint.

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