for this game

Lakers lose Bynum, win sixth straight

Jan 14, 2008 - 6:50 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) - The Los Angeles Lakers are still perfect in the new calendar year, but victory may have come at a severe cost on Sunday.

Kobe Bryant scored 37 points for the second straight game to propel the Lakers to their season-high sixth straight win - a 100-99 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Lamar Odom had 10 points and 10 rebounds and Jordan Farmar added 10 points for Los Angeles, which has won 16 of 19 overall - including all six games in 2008 - but may be without center Andrew Bynum for the foreseeable future.

Bynum left the contest with a sprained left knee early in the third quarter. The 20-year-old center, who had 10 points and nine rebounds, did not return to the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday after X-rays on his knee came back negative.

"It's unfortunate; it's part of this game," Bryant said. "It happens to all of us. It's important for him to take care of his body."

Bynum was seen walking out of the arena with a brace around the injured knee and a trainer following close behind with crutches. The 7-0 center was quick to downplay the significance of the injury.

"I don't think it's serious at all," he said.

However, Lakers coach Phil Jackson was more cautious.

"I'll withhold any statement about that until we see the (MRI)," Jackson said. "It was just horrible to see him go down, for all our fans."

One of the league's brightest up-and-coming centers, Bynum had come into his own during his third campaign. He entered Sunday averaging 13.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.

"We definitely need 'Big Drew' out on the court," Los Angeles forward Ronny Turiaf said. "He brings so much of the defense and offense - his presence out there. People are noticing; they're scared of him and we need him back."

The Lakers' current win streak is their longest since 2004, when they advanced all the way to the NBA Finals before falling to the Detroit Pistons.

"We eeked that one out (tonight) and we got a little string going here," Jackson said.

After Memphis' Juan Carlos Navarro missed two free throws that could have pushed the lead to three points with 1:19 remaining, Bryant was fouled on the other end and sank both free throws. On the next possession, the Lakers stole the ball and Bryant finished the break with a driving layup to give the Lakers a 99-96 lead.

Kwame Brown scored the game's final point on a free throw with nine seconds remaining, moments after Rudy Gay hit a 3-pointer to knot the game at 99-99. Kyle Lowry missed a layup in the final seconds trying to draw a foul on Brown and Hakim Warrick missed a desperation 3-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer.

Mike Miller led the Grizzlies with 27 points, 19 of which came in the first half. Pau Gasol finished with 21 points and 18 rebounds and rookie Mike Conley had 10 points and seven assists for Memphis, which dropped its fourth in a row.

"One thing I have to admit that I like about this team is that they fight back all the time no matter what happens," Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said. "As we get older and more experienced, we'll get smarter and we'll make more of those plays."

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