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Lakers, Kobe are fully functional in win over dysfunctional 76ers

Kobe Bryant has 34 points, but others share wealth in Mike D'Antoni's offense as L.A. rolls,111-98. Metta World Peace scores 19; four others hit double figures.

December 17, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times

PHILADELPHIA — The Lakers finally found someone as messed up as they are.

Not exactly in a pitying mood, they clubbed the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers, 111-98, Sunday at Wells Fargo Center.

There were ridiculous moments (a Kwame Brown chant), predictable ones (76ers fans booing Kobe Bryant during introductions), and some neither here nor there, like the Lakers finishing 2-2 on their Eastern trip.

Had they won in Cleveland, they might be more excited. Had they shown anything in New York before Carmelo Anthony was injured, people might even talk about a resurgence.

Instead, the Lakers (11-14) merely beat a Philadelphia team without injured starters Jrue Holiday and, yes, Andrew Bynum.

Bryant stuck it to the fans in his hometown with 34 points, and the Lakers lived at the three-point line, making 14 of 34. The 10 they made in the first half tied a team record.

Metta World Peace had 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, and lobbied for more sharing of the ball in Coach Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo scheme. Bryant took only 21 shots Sunday (making 12) after averaging 27 the previous three games.

"I'm happy that Coach went back to his offense," World Peace said. "He was hired for a reason. He was hired to bring an offense in. When he got here, he got a little complacent, a little bit confident, and went away from this offense and it turned into the Kobe show.

"When it turns into the Kobe show, it's hard for everybody to put pressure on. When we put pressure on the other team, all five guys out there, they've got to use their legs. Anybody that uses a treadmill, they know you get tired after a while. After an hour, you want to get off that treadmill. Sometimes when we play, Kobe is the only man running on the treadmill and everybody else is relaxing.

"But [Sunday] Kobe led the way and made sure that his team was working, moving the ball, moving bodies and they all had to run the treadmill today."

D'Antoni told players he wanted a return to team ball for the first 16 seconds of the shot clock, then let Bryant or Dwight Howard take control in the final eight seconds.

World Peace, who logged significant time at power forward, wasn't the only one who prospered with the newfound sharing. Reserve guard Darius Morris had a career-high 15 points before being slowed by a sprained ankle in the second half. Chris Duhon had 14 points. Jodie Meeks had 12 points against the team that employed him the previous two seasons.

After showing so much angst in recent games, Bryant seemed entirely pleased with the Lakers' effort.

He smiled broadly after making an 18-footer in the third quarter for a 69-55 Lakers lead. He threw an arm around Duhon after a bungled play.

As usual, though, the local fans didn't care about the Lower Merion High product. An "M-V-P" chant started by Lakers fans was quickly drowned out by boos as Bryant shot free throws late in the third quarter.

When he exited with 1:51 to play, however, he received a standing ovation. Then again, Lakers fans were pretty much the only ones left in the emptying arena at that point.

Nick Young had 30 points for the 76ers (12-12), who assumed the Lakers' typical role of the team that didn't want to play defense.

It wasn't all bad for the 76ers. There was a short-lived "Kwame, Kwame" chant after he blocked Howard's shot in the first quarter. Six people were excited enough to yell his name in unison. Maybe seven.

The Lakers will probably get Pau Gasol back Tuesday against Charlotte after he sat out eight games because of knee tendinitis.

The Lakers, winners of two in a row and getting back their four-time All-Star forward. Time to celebrate?

"I'm a coach, I'm in a fetal position and I'll stay there until . . . we'll have to play a month like this or two months," D'Antoni said.

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