for this game

Bryant, Odom team up to lead Lakers over Sonics

Apr 7, 2007 - 8:03 AM SEATTLE (Ticker) -- While Kobe Bryant continued his monster season, it's his sidekick that will be the key to the Los Angeles Lakers' playoff run.

Bryant scored 31 of his 46 points in the second half and Lamar Odom added 20 and seven assists as the Lakers held on for a 112-109 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.

Sixth in the Western Conference but just one-half game in front of Denver (39-36), Los Angeles (40-36) has lost four of its last six games. They also are just two games in front of the Los Angeles Clippers (37-37) for the eighth spot.

"It all depends upon us winning," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said. "Who likes to back into the playoffs? You want to win. We want to do what we have to do to play ball, so that's why we're playing well, it's not about who else does what. That's important."

But on Friday, the Lakers looked ready for the postseason thanks to Bryant, who notched his 16th 40-plus game of the season. The superstar guard shot 13-of-27 from the field and 19-of-24 from the free-throw line.

"Second half, I had to come out and jump start us a little bit, but the bench came in there for the fourth quarter and gave us a huge lift," Bryant said. "And that's what we need, that's the kind of team effort we need."

However, the Lakers are most effective with Odom as the playmaker and a dangerous secondary scorer. The versatile forward was 9-of-11 from the field and distributed the ball well - committing just two turnovers.

But all Odom wanted to talk about was his team's effort on the other end of the floor.

"Defense (was the key), we made plays," Odom said. "Kobe made some big shots, but defensive stops (was the biggest part of the win). We have Denver right on our tail, so winning right not is the most important thing, how we do it doesn't matter. We got to win."

With the game tied at 103-103, Bryant nailed a tough fadeaway to give Los Angeles the lead for good with 1:41 left.

Chris Wilcox scored a season-high 32 points and Earl Watson scored 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting for the SuperSonics, who have lost four straight.

"We had 17 turnovers, it could have been worse, but can't make excuses," Watson said. "All year we make excuses, it's this or that, sometimes you just have to win games. I think things are going to happen throughout the game, you have to learn to win them, overcome obstacles throughout the game. We can't make any more excuses, excuses are getting old."

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