Suddenly, the game turned.
Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, and the Lakers used a late 22-0 run to beat the Clippers 106-88 Wednesday night, giving them six straight wins over their crosstown rivals.
"When you don't shoot the ball well, you've got to defend," Bryant said. "That's what we did."
Cuttino Mobley scored five straight points to give the Clippers an 81-79 lead with 8:16 remaining. That's when the Lakers took over. Bryant and Lamar Odom each scored six points and Jordan Farmar added four during the decisive run.
Al Thornton ended the spurt by making a 3-pointer with 1:04 remaining -- the Clippers' first points in more than 7 minutes. By that time, the outcome had been decided.
Neither team led by more than seven points before the Lakers' late surge.
As Bryant noted, the Lakers didn't shoot well, hitting 38.8 percent from the floor. Odom and Trevor Ariza both shot 4-of-8, with none of their teammates making half their shots.
The Lakers shot 7-of-16 in the fourth quarter, but went 17-of-22 from the foul line in outscoring the Clippers 34-20. The Clippers were 8-of-23 in the final 12 minutes and shot 38.9 percent overall.
"The mantra is that defense wins ballgames, your offense comes and goes," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "If you just rely on your offense all the time, it's going to disappoint you at some level.
"Big finish, good finish, and defense was much better the second half. I think there's been talk about the Clippers having trouble finishing games and I don't think it's all about us. I think some of it is about them."
Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy didn't disagree.
"We played at a pretty high level [for 40 minutes]," he said. "Once we get our guys conditioned and begin to tough it out, then we will win games. Our guys stopped taking the ball to the basket. We just have to keep working, we cannot go through rough patches like we have."
Odom had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers (4-0); Derek Fisher scored 13 points, Vladimir Radmanovic added 11, Ariza had 10, and Andrew Bynum had nine points, 17 rebounds to match a career high and four blocked shots.
"When Baron got his fifth foul, it seemed like we were real stagnant after that," said Clippers center Chris Kaman, held to six points and 11 rebounds.
Davis picked up No. 5 with 7½ minutes left and had to leave the game with the score tied at 81. When he returned with 6:11 to play, it was 87-81, and the Lakers were had all the momentum.
"I think fouls were a factor," Kaman said, and the numbers backed that up -- the Clippers had 32 fouls to the Lakers' 17, and shot 10-of-15 at the foul line to the Lakers' 32-of-45.
The game was the second in eight days between the teams -- the Lakers won a 117-79 decision Oct. 29. The Clippers have lost their five games by an average of 20.8 points per game. The Lakers have won their four games by an average of 20.7 points.
Clippers rookie Mike Taylor scored five points in a span of 15 seconds early in the fourth quarter to trim the Lakers' lead to two at 75-73, and Mobley put the Clippers ahead shortly thereafter before the Lakers took over.
Neither team led by more than four points in the third quarter, which ended with the Lakers on top 72-68.
Marcus Camby, held to two points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots in 16 minutes because of foul trouble, picked up two fouls in the first 2½ minutes to put him on the bench until the second quarter, but Davis had 10 points and six assists in the opening period to help the Clippers take a 29-27 lead.
The Lakers led 44-38 before Thornton scored nine points during a 13-3 run to finish the second quarter, giving the Clippers a 51-47 halftime lead.
The Lakers are off to their best start since winning five straight games to start the 2003-04 season, and the Clippers are off to their worst since losing their first 17 of the 1998-99 campaign. ... The Clippers won their first four games last season, but went 19-59 after that. ... The crosstown rivals split their season series for three straight years before the Lakers won all four games between the teams last season. ... Both teams began the game by making 3-of-4 from 3-point range before combining to miss the next 10 shots from beyond the arc. The Clippers finished 8-of-23, the Lakers 8-of-22. ... The Lakers have an 88-25 record against the Clippers since they moved to Los Angeles from San Diego in 1984. ... The game was the Lakers' first since Saturday night, and they don't play again until the Houston Rockets visit Sunday night. That will be the first of four games in six nights. ... The Clippers play their next five games at home before traveling to Oklahoma City on Nov. 19.