Final - OT
  for this game

Lakers salvage home-and-home split vs. Warriors

Mar 25, 2008 - 7:30 AM By Ryan Leong PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- The Los Angeles Lakers got payback 24 hours after the Golden State Warriors earned a rare win at Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant scored 23 of his 30 points in the second half and overtime to lead the Lakers to a 123-119 victory over the Warriors on Monday night.

Lamar Odom added 23 points and 21 rebounds in the finale of the home-and-home series after Los Angeles endured a 115-111 loss on Sunday.

"When a team comes into your home floor and beats you and then you have a crack back at them the next night, as a pro, I don't know if you could ask for anything better," Lakers guard Derek Fisher said.

"I think both teams played with a lot of energy considering the fact that both teams are almost 70 games into the season and just played last night and we were fortunate to come out with the win."

With Monday's victory, the Lakers (49-22) now own sole possession of first place in the Western Conference - one-half game ahead of the New Orleans Hornets (47-21).

"The losses are bigger than wins right now," Odom said. "You just want to play well, so you can keep jabbing these teams off. It seems like every team in the West is hot.

"Anybody can beat anybody on any given night, so a win is just like using your jab in boxing as far as the West is concerned just to keep these teams off you."

The Lakers did not do it without a little controversy, though.

Following a timeout, with the Warriors trailing by two in the final seconds of overtime, official Bob Delaney called Monta Ellis for an offensive foul during an inbounds play after the Golden State guard got tangled up with Los Angeles guard Derek Fisher.

Replays showed Fisher grabbed Ellis and pulled him down as the game ended in controversy following the questionable call from the officials.

"It wasn't a plan to get all tangled up in there like all that," Fisher said. "I felt I hadn't done anything wrong and I don't think anybody was necessarily guilty of anything, but from the angle that Bob had, it looked he had his hands to my chest which he did but like I said I wasn't trying to fall down at all in that situation."

That ended a valiant comeback by Golden State, which went on a 10-1 run over the final 1:23 of the fourth quarter, sending the game to overtime on a pair of free throws by Baron Davis in the closing seconds.

"It's tough, this is a tough loss," Davis said. "We did everything to get back in the game, and we had opportunities to win. We can't really blame it on the last play, but you can't really blame it on our effort, either."

Bryant missed the first two shots for the Lakers in overtime before Kelenna Azubuike made a jumper from the baseline to give the Warriors a 113-111 lead.

Odom missed a jumper on the ensuing possession, but a careless outlet pass gave the ball right back to the Lakers. Fisher made a long jumper to tie the score with 3:01 remaining.

A steal by Davis led to another fast break by Ellis, who was fouled before he could complete a layup. Ellis made both free throws and pushed the Warriors' lead to 117-113 with 1:40 remaining, sinking a jumper following a missed 3-pointer by Sasha Vujacic.

Ellis finished with 18 points, nine assists and nine rebounds and Azubuike added 18 and seven boards for Golden State.

"We had our opportunities, but I thought the comeback was great," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "We really battled and didn't have great games from everybody. I played my guys a lot of minutes both games and I thought fatigue was a bit of a factor. But anyway we were right there to win it, and it was really a great basketball game I thought."

Moments later, Fisher hit a crucial 3-pointer to pull the Lakers back within one before Vujacic gave Los Angeles a two-point lead with a three of his own.

But Azubuike tied the score, 119-119, with a follow shot off Ellis' missed layup with 30.8 seconds left.

Odom put the Lakers back on top, 121-119, with a driving layup with four seconds left on the clock, setting up the controversial finish which was capped by Bryant's two free throws to provide the final margin.

"We felt like we should've won the game (Sunday night) but Stephen (Jackson) made a couple of big shots and tonight we got back and wanted to make sure we made plays down the stretch," Bryant said. "The guys in overtime stepped up to make plays. (The Warriors) just were not going to let me beat them."