for this game

Lakers sweep Clippers, inch closer in West standings

Apr 11, 2008 - 6:54 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) - Luke Walton had 13 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to lead a well-rounded attack for the Los Angeles Lakers in Thursday's 106-78 rout over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Kobe Bryant overcame an off-shooting night to score 16 points and Lamar Odom chipped in 14 and 13 rebounds for the Lakers (54-25), who moved within 1 1/2 games of first-place New Orleans (55-23) in the Western Conference standings.

"Right now, at this point in the year, (every win) is important," Odom said. "You want to win, you want to play well. With one loss, you can drop down two or three spots, so playing well is imperative for us."

The Lakers and Hornets meet in a critical matchup here on Friday.

"In this Western Conference, you never know what is going to happen," Walton said. "So it's definitely a huge game for us, and it's going to be a fun one."

The Lakers also completed a series sweep of the Clippers for the first time in five years, winning the previous three meetings by a margin of 25.3 points.

The Clippers managed keep it close, trailing by just six points midway through the third. But Jordan Farmar's 3-pointer to beat the third-quarter buzzer put the Lakers up 73-61.

The Lakers went on a subsequent 30-10 run spanning into the fourth, capped by consecutive 3-pointers from Walton for the 92-62 advantage with 7:21 remaining.

Walton had been nursing a strained right hamstring for the past few days, which had limited him from running during practice. He joked that all he could was shoot stationary jumpers, which appeared to pay off.

"I got good open looks today," said Walton, who hit four 3-pointers. "I felt good."

With the lead well in hand, Bryant and most of the other starters sat out the fourth quarter to rest with the second game of the back-to-back looming.

"It's important to have a big game like this where guys can kinda sit down and rest, and get ready for (Friday)," Bryant said.

While the Lakers are headed to the playoffs, the Clippers appear destined for the draft lottery in what has been a forgettable campaign due to injuries to several key players.

Elton Brand finished with 23 points and rookie Al Thornton had 22 in the Clippers' final home game of the season.

"It was good to go out there and play against one of the upper echelon teams, fighting for the No. 1 spot in the West," Brand said. "I wish we had our full compliment so we could really see where we are."

The Clippers were again without Chris Kaman (back) and Corey Maggette (hamstring) because of injuries.

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