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Lakers and Kobe Bryant keep hitting low points, even in victory

The Lakers, and Kobe Bryant in particular, struggle again on offense, though defense clicks in plodding 86-78 win over Atlanta. Bryant shoots five for 18, but Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum take up slack.

February 14, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan

The Lakers could be heard roaring in the players' lounge an hour before their game against the Atlanta Hawks.

Getting fired up before tipoff? Not quite.

Metta World Peace revealed what happened behind closed doors when he burst from the room adjacent to the Lakers' locker area and shouted, "Linsanity! Linsanity!"

New York guard Jeremy Lin had done it again, beating Toronto with a three-point shot as many of the Lakers watched in amazement.

There wasn't as much excitement in the Lakers' plodding 86-78 victory Tuesday over Atlanta at Staples Center.

They beat the Hawks despite an awful shooting night by Kobe Bryant, holding Atlanta to numbingly low 34.4% accuracy.

The Lakers' defense deserved some credit, surely. It's becoming abundantly clear it's how they plan to win this season.

Low-possession games. Low-scoring outcomes. Break 100 points every now and then.

"Obviously, we won the game on the defensive end of the floor," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. "That's an area that we hang our hat on. At the end of the day, if we don't shoot well, that's what's going to help us win ball games, especially come playoff time in a seven-game series."

The Lakers (17-12) didn't have much choice. They had to play defense on a night when World Peace provided the highlight material with two dunks.

Bryant had 10 points on five-for-18 shooting. Pau Gasol had 20 points on subpar nine-for-22 shooting.

The Lakers, winning on defense?

"This is a style the coaching staff wants us to play and we'll continue to do what we're asked to do . . . especially if we win," Gasol said. "That's the bottom line, always.

"We want to make it entertaining, we want to make it nice and fun for everyone, but we play a certain way and there's no way around it."

The Lakers can thank the two Andrews — Bynum and Goudelock — for solid boosts Tuesday.

Bynum made seven of 10 shots and deserved more touches down low. He finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

Goudelock extended an eight-point lead at the end of the third quarter by hitting a teardrop shot and three-pointer early in the fourth. He finished with 10 points in 14 minutes.

World Peace had 10 points, including the dunks that were top-10 plays Tuesday in the NBA, Brown theorized.

"The two-handed dunk can be No. 8 and the one-handed dunk, I hope it's No. 1," he said.

The Lakers barely led at halftime, 42-41, but held the Hawks to 10 points in the third quarter.

Gasol shot better in the fourth quarter, and his three-pointer from the corner put the Lakers up, 81-64, with 3 minutes 38 seconds to play.

As bad as the Lakers are on the road, they're very dependable at Staples, where they're now 12-2 in designated home games.

They'll keep trying to win defensively, for now.

"We're trying to play a grind-it-out style right now until we can figure out what type of flow we're going to do offensively," Brown said.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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