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Bryant scores 40 points; Lakers win fourth straight game

Nov 22, 2006 - 6:39 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant had a quota to meet against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Bryant scored a season-high 40 points as the Los Angeles Lakers posted their fourth straight win with a 105-101 victory over the Clippers.

In four meetings with the Clippers last season, Bryant owned an average of 40.8 points. The reigning league scoring champion was well on his way to that mark after scoring 23 points in the first half.

"I was just coming out and setting a tone," Bryant said. "Coming out and being aggressive."

Bryant, who made 12-of-23 shots, netted 10 points in the fourth quarter and matched his last season's average against the Clippers on a free throw with 12 seconds remaining.

"I think we did a good job on him," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "He averaged 40 points a game on us last year and he got his average."

"He (Bryant) did well," Clippers guard Cuttino Mobley said. "He shot the ball great and attacked the basket, did what he was supposed to do. That's what he does. He's a competitor and he is going to attack you."

The Lakers put together a decisive 8-0 run, highlighted by a layup by Bryant and another by Luke Walton, for a 98-91 advantage with 1:24 to go.

"We played well in spurts," Bryant said. "The start of the fourth quarter was pretty ugly, but we were able to overcome it. It's nice to keep the momentum going."

The Lakers maintained the lead in the final minute thanks to a tough jumper in traffic by Bryant and a 3-pointer by Walton for a 103-96 cushion with 26 seconds left.

"The thing that I looked at was that he (Bryant) had one turnover tonight," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "I think the decisiveness is evident. He's doing things a little bit quicker, making his moves a little bit quicker, with not as much hesitation. He got to the line and had some points and that's really what carried us."

Bryant made 15-of-18 free throws.

Lamar Odom had 18 points and Smush Parker added 15 for the Lakers, who led, 83-74, after three quarters.

Elton Brand, who grabbed 15 rebounds, and Corey Maggette each scored 20 points for the Clippers, who committed 18 turnovers.

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