for this game

Bryant takes over after haltime as Lakers edge Pacers

Jan 7, 2008 - 6:26 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) - The first half belonged to Andrew Bynum. The second was all Kobe Bryant.

Bynum posted a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds and Bryant had 26 points to propel the Los Angeles Lakers to their sixth win in seven tries with a 112-96 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night.

"Andrew had a really good first half, and Kobe had a good second half," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

Lamar Odom returned from a one-game suspension and contributed 13 points and 13 rebounds and Derek Fisher chipped in 22 points for the Lakers, who have won 12 of their last 15 contests.

"We are playing team basketball," Odom said. "Whether we are hitting shots or not, we got to find a way to win."

Bynum got the Lakers going early, pouring in 21 first-half points.

Bryant, who struggled while making just 2-of-11 shots in the half, responded with 16 points after halftime. Los Angeles, which has been on fire of late, was coming off a game which it shot 66 percent in a win over Philadelphia on Friday - its best mark in 23 years. The Lakers shot a respectable 46 percent (36-of-78) in this one but got hot when it counted.

"We just wanted to be patient," Bryant said. "We realized we were missing shots and eventually it was going to go down for us."

Nursing a two-point lead, the Lakers opened the flood gates in the third quarter. They went on a 27-11 run to start the third as Bryant's jumper made it 82-64 with 4:02 remaining in the quarter.

With the Lakers' bench on the floor, the Pacers cut the deficit to seven points midway through the fourth. But Bryant would re-enter the game to hit two consecutive baskets and Fisher made a corner 3-pointer to put Los Angeles back up by 14 points.

"We had a chance to cut it to four with an open three but we couldn't get over the hump, then they brought the starters back in, and we had difficulty with their starting lineup the entire night," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said.

Fisher added another shot from the arc minutes later to end Indiana's comeback hopes.

"He's made so many big shots in his career that those things are nothing for him," Lakers forward Luke Walton said. "He came off the bench being cold and knocked down a couple of big ones, Kobe came in and hit some big ones and before you knew it we had the game under control again."

The Pacers continue to struggle in Los Angeles, having now lost nine straight times during the regular season at the Staples Center.

"It's unfortunate," Dunleavy said. "We couldn't completely come back in the fourth quarter, we missed some shots and got cold down the stretch there, it's too bad."

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