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Kobe scores 41, Lakers hold off pesky Wizards

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Impressive on their just-concluded road trip,
the Los Angeles Lakers hope to get on a roll at home.

Kobe Bryant scored 41 points and made a key defensive play in
the waning seconds Friday night to lead Los Angeles to a 97-91 win
over the Washington Wizards.

The Lakers improved to .500 on their home court.

"We had a really good road trip and wanted to come home and
continue that momentum," Bryant said, referring to the Lakers' 5-1
trip. "We played ball well away, now it's time to do the same at
home."

Lamar Odom, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds, agreed.

"We needed to win tonight to validate all those wins on the
road," he said. "Defending your home turf is important in this
league."

Los Angeles is 5-5 at home, 8-5 on the road.

"We need to try to regain some home-court advantage," Lakers
coach Phil Jackson said.

Bryant had 18 points in the third quarter to rally Los Angeles
from a five-point deficit. The Lakers were ahead 70-66 heading into
the fourth quarter and led the rest of the way.

Although he scored only seven points in the fourth quarter,
Bryant sealed the win with three free throws in the closing 30
seconds.

With Los Angeles up 95-91, he blocked a shot by Gilbert Arenas
with 13 seconds left, Arenas fouled him, and Bryant hit two free
throws for the final margin.

He finished 14-of-24 from the floor.

Arenas led Washington with 29 points, but was just 6-of-20 from
the floor. Caron Butler added 20 points against his former Los
Angeles teammates.

"Our game plan was to let Kobe try to beat us and shut everyone
else down," Butler said. "We did a good job on that, but we just
fell a couple of possessions short."

Washington coach Eddie Jordan thought the Wizards should have
played with more energy.

"They took it to us," Jordan said. "It should not have
happened like that. They just came off a six-game road trip and we
thought we could bring the force and the energy to them."

Bryant scored seven points in the opening two minutes of the
second half to pull Los Angeles even at 47. His 18 points in the
quarter were eight more than his teammates combined in the period.

Kwame Brown had nine rebounds and six points against his former
Washington teammates.

Brown and Laron Profit came to Los Angeles in the deal that sent
Butler and Chucky Atkins to Washington after last season. Atkins
had seven points and Profit scored four for Los Angeles.

The Lakers shot 47 percent from the floor to 34 percent by the
Wizards, but Washington kept it close by making six 3-pointers to
Los Angeles' three, and making 33 free throws to the Lakers' 26.

Game notes
F Ronny Turiaf, taken by the Lakers with the 35th pick in
June's NBA draft, may be cleared to practice soon. Turiaf underwent
heart surgery July 26 to repair an enlarged aortic root, a problem
discovered in a post-draft physical. Results of medical tests he
underwent Friday probably will determine by early next week whether
he's ready to go. ... The Wizards beat the Lakers 95-81 on March 14
the last time the teams met despite Butler's 20 points and 11
rebounds for Los Angeles.