Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 2/4

Game 1: Saturday, February 4th
Game 2: Wednesday, March 8th
Game 3: Sunday, March 26th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 19th

Hornets 94

(32-36, 12-21 away)

Lakers 105

(38-34, 21-13 home)

Coverage: FSW

6:30 PM ET, March 26, 2006

STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

1 2 3 4 T
NO 29 31 15 1994
LAL 28 34 21 22105

Top Performers

NO: D. West 23 Pts, 10 Reb, 1 Ast

LAL: K. Bryant 30 Pts, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Stl

Bryant, Odom lead Lakers past reeling Hornets

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kwame Brown's sore hamstring held up well enough to allow the Los Angeles Lakers to put some distance between themselves and one of their major threats to a playoff berth.

Brown finished with 17 points, helping the Lakers beat the New Orleans Hornets 105-94 Sunday night for their fourth straight victory. The fifth-year center, who came to Los Angeles last August in a trade from Washington, pulled his hamstring in Friday's victory over Milwaukee. But Alex McKechnie, the team's athletic performance coordinator, gave him enough treatment to make it tolerable.

"I was a little nervous when I started running a little bit at the beginning of warmups and before we started playing," Brown said. "But Alex is the man. We did a lot of work before the game, I got up a real good sweat and it felt pretty good. It was just one of those nights where I got it close to the paint and just went up strong."

Brown was a season-best 7-for-7 from the field, Kobe Bryant scored 30 points and Lamar Odom added 23 points as Los Angeles equaled its longest winning streak of the season. The Lakers are seventh in the Western Conference playoff race, two games ahead of Sacramento and four ahead of the ninth-place Hornets, whose 11th defeat in 12 games clinched a playoff berth for the Pacific Division-leading Phoenix Suns.

"Now the pressure is all on us because we didn't take care of our business tonight," said Hornets center P.J. Brown, who had 13 points and seven rebounds before fouling out with 4:48 to play.

"The Lakers are a couple of steps ahead of us. So I thought if we could get this one, it would give us a chance to breath a little bit and have this one in our pocket so that when we come back here in a couple of weeks, the pressure would be all on them to win."

David West had 23 points and seven rebounds for the Hornets, who had allowed only one player to score at least 30 points in their previous 11 games. That player was Bryant, who had 40 in a 113-107 win on March 8 at New Orleans -- the first major sporting event in that city since the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

"We knew we weren't going to be able to keep Kobe under 30, but you want to make him work for it. And I think we did a pretty good job of that," coach Byron Scott said.

"They had two guys who had really good games, Kwame Brown and Lamar Odom. When they have that type of production, they are going to be hard to beat. Odom is three or four inches taller than the guys we had guarding him tonight, and he took advantage of it."

The Hornets shot 44.7 percent from the field. The last time they played at Staples Center, in an 89-67 loss to the Clippers on March 1, the Hornets scored 16 points in the second half -- the fewest by any team during the shot-clock era. They also went a franchise-worst 12 minutes and 41 seconds between field goals during a 25-0 run by the Clippers.

Bryant drove the left baseline for a layup with 11 minutes remaining to give the Lakers an 87-77 lead, the first double-digit margin for either team. They built a 95-80 cushion with a 9-0 spurt triggered by Devean George's first basket of the game, an 18-footer from the top of the key with 8:56 remaining.

The Hornets held the Lakers without a field goal over the final 6:22 and got as close as 91-89 on a pair of free throws by rookie Chris Paul, capping a 19-4 run.

Both teams shot over 55 percent in the first half. Brown was 6-for-6 in the half and Lamar Odom drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from in front of the Lakers' bench to give them a 62-60 lead at intermission.

"They basically ran the ball down our throats in the first half, so we had to get adjusted to the tempo," Bryant said. "In the second half, we were able to get a bead on them a little bit better."

The Lakers are 5-3 since center Chris Mihm went out of the lineup with sprained right ankle, and 7-7 altogether this season. He missed six games last month because of a sprained right shoulder. Lakers first-round draft pick Andrew Bynum was scratched, after spraining his right foot and ankle playing 2-on-2 following Saturday's practice.

Game notes

The Lakers had only three turnovers over in the first 16 1-2 minutes -- all by Bryant, who has played only three games this season without committing one. The Lakers won all three times. Bryant has had a season-high seven turnovers on five occasions, and the Lakers are 1-4 in those games. ... Scott, who played 11 seasons with the Lakers and won three championship rings, is 4-7 against them as a coach. ... Kwame Brown shot 6-for-6 against Dallas and Memphis earlier this season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 94 105
FGM-FGA 38-85 (.447) 33-65 (.508)
3PM-3PA 4-11 (.364) 5-15 (.333)
FTM-FTA 14-20 (.700) 34-49 (.694)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-45 4-38
Assists 19 24
Turnovers 13 9
Steals 5 6
Blocks 3 4
Fast Break Points 8 4
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 31 (0/1) 19 (1/0)
Largest Lead 8 15

Top Performers

No/oklahoma City
Los Angeles
David West West
Points: 23
Reb: 10
Ast: 1
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
Kobe Bryant Bryant
Points: 30
Reb: 5
Ast: 2
Stl: 3
Blk: 0