Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has his layup challenged by Clippers center DeAndre… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)
Finally, a game at Staples Center that didn't go overtime. The Clippers only wished it did.
After a week in which the Lakers and Clippers combined for five overtimes and 266 points in successive games, nobody played extra basketball Friday.
Kobe Bryant had 37 points and six assists, Pau Gasol had 26 points for a worthy cause, and the Lakers beat the Clippers, 112-104.
Not much can stop the Lakers these days, their record improving to 14-1 since the All-Star break and Andrew Bynum back from a two-game suspension.
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The Clippers made it interesting, as they often do against their eminently more successful neighbors down the hall.
Friday's chapter didn't end cleanly, Chris Kaman getting ejected after jawing at Derek Fisher with 28.8 seconds left. Kaman and Fisher collided on a screen near the three-point line, and Kaman ended up pointing angrily at Fisher, motioning for him to meet in the hallway after the game.
The Clippers contended that Fisher made contact with Kaman's head on the play.
"There was no reason for that," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Chris was just setting a good screen, a legal screen. Fisher came up high with the elbow. So the NBA will look at it, and they'll make those decisions."
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Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said it was the other way around, that Kaman made contact with Fisher's head.
"Fish doesn't take kindly to that…" he said.
Kaman declined to comment, other than to say, "I'll get myself in trouble if I talk about it. I'd rather not do it."
Bryant bailed out the Lakers with seven consecutive points down the stretch, and Bynum added a tip-in off Fisher's missed free throw with 35.3 seconds left.
It prevented Jackson from losing his last Lakers-Clippers game, assuming he follows through on his oft-repeated desire to leave after the season.
He'll miss this rivalry greatly.
"Not really," he said.
Jackson finished 34-10 against the Clippers while coaching the Lakers, but credited them for sometimes forcing him to feel "dread" when the teams met because of the close nature of the games.
The Lakers (52-20) took three of four games from the Clippers (28-45) in the season series.
They also moved 11/2 games ahead of Dallas for second place in the Western Conference. For what it's worth, they also moved 11/2 ahead of slumping Boston, which lost at home Friday to Charlotte.
The Lakers couldn't be entirely happy, especially because they apparently don't like holding leads all of a sudden. They lost a 21-point advantage Tuesday against Phoenix that cost them three overtimes of extra work. On Friday, they held a 30-14 lead with 3:17 left in the first quarter but led by nine at halftime and only two early in the fourth quarter.
Mo Williams had 30 points and six assists for the Clippers, who were moving downcourt with the ball and a four-point deficit with 45 seconds to play. But Artest stole the ball from Blake Griffin, and the Clippers never threatened again.
Bynum had 11 points and 12 rebounds in his first game since his flagrant-foul suspension.
Gasol pledged to donate $1,000 per point to a Japan recovery fund sponsored by Direct Relief International. Magic Johnson later said he would match Gasol's donation, making it $52,000 earmarked for relief from the recent earthquake and tsunami.