Kobe Bryant grimaces in pain after getting fouled by Festus Ezeli during… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
Lakers 118 - Warriors 116 (end of regulation)
The Lakers may have won their most important game of the season, but in the process lost Kobe Bryant to a variety of painful-looking leg injuries.
After hurting his knee in the third quarter, Bryant left the game for good with 3:08 with a foot/leg injury.
Carl Landry missed a wide open jumper and Stephen Curry's three-quarter-court heave just barely missed at the buzzer and the Lakers escaped with a 118-116 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
BOX SCORE: Lakers 118, Golden State 116
Pau Gasol notched a triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Kobe Bryant left with 34 points. Dwight Howard scored 28 points while hitting 14 of 22 free throws.
It was just barely enough.
Curry scored 47 points on 10-24 shooting. Klay Thompson had 25 while David Lee put in 19. Golden State shot 47.4% from the field, and made 11 of 26 from three-point range.
The Lakers shot 51.5% from the field but did major damage at the free-throw line, converting 38 of 50.
In a must-win game, the Lakers closed out without Bryant, improving to 43-37. The Warriors fall to 45-35.
With the Utah Jazz improving to 42-38 Friday night, a loss would have dropped the Lakers to ninth place.
Both the Lakers and Jazz have two games left. The Lakers need to match whatever the Jazz do to stay in eighth.
Now, the question turns to the status of Kobe Bryant.
Warriors 90 - Lakers 85 (end of third quarter)
Kobe Bryant had two significant knee injury scares in the third quarter, but played through a difficult quarter that saw the Warriors extend their lead to nine points.
The Lakers were led by Dwight Howard with 25 points on an impressive 13 of 16 from the line. Bryant had 22 points as the Lakers shot 48.1% from the field.
The bigger issues were on defense, as Stephen Curry logged 39 through three quarters. Klay Thompson had 20 as the Warriors shot 49.3% from the field.
Lakers 57 - Warriors 57 (halftime)
After falling behind by seven to the Warriors, the Lakers slowly pushed back to tie the game up at 57-57 to end the half.
With Andrew Bogut out (ankle) and Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins in foul trouble, the Lakers had a significant size advantage.
Pau Gasol scored 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, with six rebounds and seven assists. Dwight Howard had 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Kobe Bryant scored 13 as the Lakers shot 50% from the field (19-38) and 81.2% from the line (13-16).
The Warriors were led by a blistering-hot Stephen Curry who scored 32 points while shooting 12-of-21 from the field and hitting 6 of 10 from behind the three-point line.
Golden State shot 44.9% as a team but out-rebounded the Lakers on the offensive glass (9-2).
Warriors 32 - Lakers 26 (end of first quarter)
Stephen Curry exploded for 22 first-quarter points, hitting 9 of 13 from the field.
The Warriors shot 52% from the field and 4 of 9 from three (Curry was responsible for the four makes).
Dwight Howard led the Lakers with 11 points, hitting 5 of 6 from the free-throw line. Kobe Bryant didn't score, turning the ball over three times.
The Lakers shot 44.4% from the field with five turnovers.
The Lakers (42-37) host the Golden State Warriors (45-34) on Friday night at Staples Center.
Steve Nash is out (hip/hamstring). Andrew Bogut didn't make the trip with a sprained ankle. The Lakers need the win to stay ahead of the Utah Jazz (41-38).
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Warriors.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.