Lakers guard Kobe Bryant attempts to drive around Golden State Warriors… (John G. Mabanglo / EPA )
Warriors 109 - Lakers 103 (final)
The Lakers finally dug in defensively against the Warriors but their fourth-quarter run fell short, losing to Golden State, 109-103.
After scoring 28, 35 and 31 in each of the first three quarters, the Warriors managed just 15 points in the final 12 minutes. The Lakers closed a 25-point deficit to just six late in the fourth but ultimately ran out of time.
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 36 points on 11-of-27 shooting (converting 12-16 from the line). Dwight Howard had 11 points with 15 rebounds but the Lakers shot just 39.6% from the field in the losing effort.
The Warriors were led by Stephen Curry, despite being a game-time decision with a sprained ankle. He scored 25 points. David Lee had 23 and Klay Thompson added 22, but it was Jarrett Jack who really slowed a Lakers' comeback in the third quarter. Jack had 19 points on 9-of-16 shooting.
Golden State shot 47.8% from the field and 43.5% from the arc (10-23). The Lakers just couldn't get the stops they needed until it was too late.
Steve Nash scored 21 points and Jodie Meeks put in 13 off the bench for the Lakers.
Metta World Peace didn't play in the second half with a strained left knee. Howard received three stitches after a David Lee Elbow to the face on a play Howard was called for a foul.
The Lakers fall to 36-35, losing a key game to the Warriors (41-31). With the loss, the Lakers need to focus more on surviving eighth place than climbing in the West.
Warriors 94 - Lakers 76 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers improved offensively in the third quarter — scoring 36 points — but the defense still wasn't up to snuff.
The Warriors still put in 31 points, led in the third by Jarrett Jack who couldn't be stopped. Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 22 followed by 21 from Stephen Curry as Golden State shot 53.5% from the field and 52.6% from behind the arc.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 29, hitting 11-of-13 free throws. Steve Nash hit 8-12 shots for 19 points as the team improved to 40% from the field.
The Lakers also squandered free-throw opportunities late in the period including multiple misses from Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Bryant.
Metta World Peace didn’t play in the third with a strained left knee.
Warriors 63 - Lakers 40 (halftime)
The Warriors exploded for 35 points against the Lakers in the second quarter, extending their lead to 23 at the half. Nothing seemed to work for the Lakers, who shot just 35.6% from the field.
Golden State scored at will, shooting 55.3% from the field and 46.2% from three-point range.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each have scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting. David Lee contributed 14 points.
The Lakers got 13 from Kobe Bryant on 5-of-13 shooting. Dwight Howard picked up three fouls and a technical, scoring six points on 3-of-6 shooting.
Antawn Jamison had two points off the Lakers' bench, representing the only two points the team got from reserves.
Warriors 28 - Lakers 16 (end of first quarter)
Stephen Curry played through a sprained ankle to help the Golden State Warriors take a 12-point lead over the Lakers.
Curry scored seven points on just 2-of-6 shooting but his teammate Klay Thompson tallied 11 to lead all scorers.
Kobe Bryant scored eight for the Lakers but none of his teammates scored more than two.
The Lakers (36-34) visit the Golden State Warriors (40-31) on Monday night.
If the Lakers have any hopes to catch the sixth-place Warriors in the standings, they simply can't lose in Oakland.
Stephen Curry is a game-time decision for Golden State with a sprained ankle.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Warriors.
Lakers' Week 21 in review
How will Antawn Jamison's injury affect the Lakers?
Lakers: Week 22 predictions
Email Eric Pincus at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.