for this game

Bryant, Gasol help Lakers edge Magic

Feb 9, 2008 - 5:29 AM By Jim Rickenbacker PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- The Orlando Magic got off to a fast start but could not keep Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers from getting back on track.

Bryant pumped in 36 points to lead the Lakers to a 117-113 victory over the Magic on Friday night.

Pau Gasol added 30 points for the Lakers, who had a three-game winning streak snapped in a 98-95 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday and had to overcome a record-setting 44-point opening quarter by Orlando.

"We've been looking at our team stats for about a month now because we've lost close games and haven't measured up," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said. "This is the first time I felt we've measured up and finally got a lead back we gave up and won the game."

Bryant, the Lakers' leading scorer at 28.0 points per game, was held to just 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting against the Hawks due to a dislocated right pinky finger.

He obviously was not affected by the injury Friday and propelled the Lakers to their third consecutive win in Orlando. The Lakers are now 4-2 on their season-high, nine-game road trip, while the Magic lost for the second time in their last three home games against teams that went to the NBA playoffs last season.

"My last two games I just wasn't shooting the ball well," Bryant said. "I've just been trying to work through it with the hand. But I didn't want to have three bad games in a row.

"This team relies on me to come through and make plays. Fortunately, the treatment has paid off. The fingers (the pinky and ring finger) were taped a little differently today, and it helped a lot."

Gasol, the Lakers' latest acquisition, and Bryant each had 28 points after three periods to help stake Los Angeles to a 98-87 lead. At one point in the third quarter, Bryant and Gasol scored 13 straight points for the Lakers between them in a 13-5 L.A. run.

"I think Kobe and I played hard," Gasol said, acknowledging what an amazing opportunity it is to be a Laker. "Having another guy who can score takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders. He can get a shot off any time he wants, so I don't have to make a play every time."

Gasol's only points in the fourth, a bank shot off a feed from Bryant, gave Los Angeles a 111-108 lead with 2:39 to play.

Hedo Turkoglu answered with four straight points to give Orlando a 112-111 lead with 1:49 left, but Bryant was fouled on a drive and made two free throws to put the Lakers ahead for good, 113-112, with a minute left.

After a Magic miss, the Lakers extended the lead when Orlando's Dwight Howard was called for goaltending on a shot by Lamar Odom to make it 115-112. Odom then blocked a 3-point attempt by Rashard Lewis and Bryant gathered the loose ball and was fouled.

Bryant put the game out of reach with a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left.

"I was beat a little bit," Odom said. "It was a good play they'd set up. Rashard got to the corner, and I was able to stay behind him enough and get a little piece of the ball."

"I felt him hit me on the back of the hand," Lewis countered. "He hit me on the hand, but it was no use to sit and argue with the ref."

Bryant had 22 points by intermission, but the Lakers got 10 points off the bench from Sasha Vujacic in the second period, enabling them to erase a record-setting first period from the Magic.

Orlando led, 44-33, after the first quarter. It was not only a season high in points for any quarter but Orlando shot 18-of-24 from the field, including 8-of-11 on 3-pointers.

"We get off to a great start, then can't do anything for two quarters and it looks like we're out of it," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Then we come back and take the lead and then it's back and forth down the stretch.

"Our guys fought very, very hard to stay in that game through foul trouble and adversity. That was just an unbelievable game."

Howard scored 19 points, hitting 8-of-8 field goals. Jameer Nelson added 17 and dished out a game-high nine assists. Turkoglu and Lewis contributed 16 points apiece as Orlando had seven players in double figures.

"We never are going to quit and always play to the end," Howard said. "That's what Van Gundy puts in us."

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