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Balanced Lakers top Hawks without Bryant

Dec 9, 2006 - 6:15 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- With superstar Kobe Bryant sidelined, the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers had career nights.

Luke Walton scored a career-high 25 points and Maurice Evans added a career-best 22 as the Lakers used a free-flowing, balanced attack to post a 106-95 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Rookie Jordan Farmar had a season-high 15 points and Kwame Brown collected 13 with seven rebounds and a career-high seven assists for Los Angeles, which shot a blistering 56 percent (39-of-70) from the field and dished out 29 assists.

"I think we tried to really focus on being unselfish and really making an extra pass and helping each other out," Farmar said. "Kobe (is) so good, he can make tough plays and sometimes we just end up watching him. When he (is) not there, we play basketball a little bit more and use the triangle as a foundation instead of the end all be all."

After spraining his right ankle Monday against Indiana, Bryant managed 24 points in Wednesday's 105-89 home loss to the New Orleans Hornets. However, he had limited mobility in that game and was not able to get loose for Friday's contest.

"He tried a variety of taping procedures, which made him feel stable, not as good as he wanted to feel to play, so we scratched him late," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said.

However, Walton said the team was comfortable playing without Bryant, as it did while the superstar guard recovered from offseason knee surgery.

"If Kobe had been playing with us the whole preseason and the first couple of games, we wouldn't know what to do," Walton said. "We played the first two games of the year without him, so we knew we could win and we knew we could rely on each other to win, and we didn't have to take stuff on ourselves."

Starting in Bryant's place, Evans was 8-of-14 from the floor and 5-of-7 from the line, including a Bryant-like acrobatic layup that made it 97-84 with 4:32 remaining in the game.

"When I made that shot, I thought of Kobe because he always calls me lucky every time I make a shot," Evans said. "He always calls me lotto so it was pretty funny when it went in. I anticipated the contact and just tried to make sure I got a shot up someway."

Evans also drew the toughest defensive assignment.

"He had the job of chasing around Joe Johnson and that took a lot of energy and he gave us a lot on offense," Walton said. "He knows how to win and he showed it."

Walton was 10-of-13 from the floor, 4-of-4 from the line and collected six assists.

"We knew if we wanted to get a win, it had to be a team effort," Walton said. "We all knew we were going to come out and be more aggressive since Kobe wasn't playing, but at the same time we didn't want to come out and do a lot of 1-on-1 stuff, as opposed to moving the ball and getting everyone involved."

Johnson scored 30 points and Josh Smith added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks, who shot 43 percent (36-of-83).

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