LOS ANGELES — Andrew Bynum scored
21 points, Kobe Bryant added 18 on a light night of work and the Los
Angeles Lakers beat the New Orleans Hornets 110-99 Tuesday for their
seventh straight victory.
Ron Artest scored 16 points as the
Lakers remained undefeated in six games since the return of Pau Gasol,
who had 14 points in Los Angeles' balanced offense.
The Lakers moved in front of Phoenix
atop the Western Conference by taking another big first-half lead and
coasting to their NBA-best 11th home victory. Seven players scored at
least seven points while Los Angeles beat New Orleans at Staples Center
for the second time in 24 days.
Former UCLA star Darren Collison
scored 20 points for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight road
game. New Orleans has the NBA's second-worst road record at 1-9, only
ahead of the 0-11 New Jersey Nets, and is winless on the road since
beating the Clippers at Staples Center on Nov. 9.
Emeka Okafor added 17 points and 12
rebounds for the Hornets, who played again without All-Star point guard
Chris Paul and forward Peja Stojakovic. Paul still has a seriously
sprained left ankle, while Stojakovic missed his second straight game
to deal with a family member's illness.
The Lakers overpowered New Orleans
last month with solid bench play and Bryant's low-post scoring, which
more than made up for the injury absences of Bynum and Gasol in a
104-88 win. Los Angeles is nearly at full strength now, and its bulky
front line was too much for the depleted Hornets.
The Lakers extended the NBA's longest
current winning streak with yet another strong second quarter. Los
Angeles made a 21-4 run that included 10 straight points during the
period, rolling to a 23-point lead.
While New Orleans is struggling on
the road, the Lakers don't even know what kind of road team they are.
Thanks to a curious early-season schedule, the defending champions have
played 13 of their first 17 games at home, and they've still got four
more games left at Staples Center on this six-game homestand.
New Orleans might have improved its
defense after Sunday's embarrassing 16-point loss at Sacramento, but
the Lakers' outstanding ball movement still generated plenty of open
shots. Four Lakers scored in double figures in the first half, with
Fisher getting six assists.
Los Angeles again concentrated on
low-post play against the undersized Hornets, with Bynum often scoring
easily against Okafor. The Lakers had made more than 60 percent of
their shots late in the third quarter.
Bryant and New Orleans' Devin
Brown exchanged looks and words after a hard foul by Brown in the third
quarter. … The teams don't meet again until March 29, when the Lakers
make their only visit to New Orleans. … Courtside seats were filled
by actors Jack Black and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Taboo from the Black Eyed
Peas, and Lew Wolff, the Los Angeles real estate mogul who owns part of
the Oakland Athletics.