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Gasol, Lakers outlast feisty Warriors

Jan 8, 2009 - 7:14 AM By Ryan Leong PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- After blowing a big first-half lead, Pau Gasol made sure the Los Angeles Lakers escaped with a win against the struggling Golden State Warriors.

Gasol scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and pulled down 18 rebounds as the Lakers claimed a 114-106 victory over the Warriors on Wednesday.

Reigning MVP Kobe Bryant scored 21 points, Trevor Ariza added 17 off the bench and Andrew Bynum contributed 18 and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles, which owned a 17-point, second-quarter advantage before Golden State came roaring back.

"We got out of character in the second quarter and got out of what we do," Bryant said. "Once you give a team life and the crowd gets behind them, especially in this building, a team becomes very dangerous."

After carrying an 80-77 advantage into the fourth, Golden State quickly got into foul trouble, racking up four fouls in the first 1:37 of the final period.

Consecutive baskets by Gasol tied the score, 87-87, and a 3-pointer by Sasha Vujacic gave the Lakers the lead with 7:18 left. The Warriors committed four turnovers in a span of two minutes, helping Los Angeles extend its lead to seven points.

"I thought we followed our game plan pretty well, we made some errors but played pretty well for a long period of time," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "They were on a back-to-back and we understand how that is, but we played pretty well."

Gasol's hook shot capped a 19-8 run and put the Lakers up by 11 points with 3:54 to play.

"We are a deep team and we have a lot of quality players on this team, and it's not a one-man show," Gasol said.

"Obviously, we're missing some important players on our team, but there's no excuses. We've got to keep playing. The league is not going to stop because we're missing players and we have some injuries. We've got to step up with the guys that are healthy and get it done."

Kelenna Azubuike's shot from long range got the deficit within five points with 2:01 left. Jamal Crawford's reverse layup to complete a fast break made it a three-point game with 1:14 left, but the Warriors would not get any closer.

"I think it was a positive thing we did tonight," Gasol said. "You've got to find balance in your game as a team and you've got to take advantage of your strengths."

"We want to continue to build momentum and continue to play well," Bryant said. "We don't want to have one loss start multiplying. We want to nip it in the bud and move on."

The Lakers went on a 15-0 run from the end of the first quarter into the second, and Derek Fisher's 3-pointer gave them a 17-point bulge less than three minutes into the period.

The Warriors scratched their way back, pulling within seven points after a driving finger-roll layup from Crawford with 2:50 left in the first half.

Crawford, who led Golden State with 25 points and nine assists, drained a 3-pointer with 1:00 left in the opening 24 minutes, pulling the team within 51-49.

The Lakers held a five-point lead at the break, but the Warriors opened the third on an 8-2 and took their first lead since the first quarter after a layup by Crawford with 9:43 left in the period.

Anthony Randolph added a two-handed slam dunk to forge a three-point lead, but Bryant answered with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 61-61.

Back-to-back buckets from Corey Maggette gave Golden State a four-point bulge, which it maintained for most of the period.

The Warriors, who have lost four straight games, play three of their next four contests at home.

"If we play like this every night, it will be different," said Golden State guard Marco Belinelli, who scored 14 points. "When we play at home, we have the fans, we have everything but when we go on the road we have to play with this same aggression and we will be fine."