Gasol and Bryant each score 26, Lakers outhustle Wizards, 115-103

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Even the Los Angeles Lakers need to get back to fundamentals now and then.
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol scored 26 points apiece for the Lakers, who overcame a recent spell of uninspired play to outwork the Washington Wizards in a 115-103 road win on Tuesday.
The Lakers, who had lost six of their previous eight road games, pulled to a 2-2 record midway through their current eight-game swing.
"Offensive rebounds, getting loose balls, turning teams over," Kobe Bryant said. "Especially when you play on the road, that's some of things you need to have happen."
Lamar Odom, who scored 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting, said before the game that the champs had become "a little too overconfident," but it didn't show as he and teammates chased down loose balls and kept their hands all over the passing lanes.
The Lakers showed the troubled Wizards what hustling, focused, never-let-up basketball is all about, shooting 59 per cent and forcing six turnovers during a crucial second-quarter run.
Antawn Jamison, playing on a sprained right foot, scored 27 points to lead the Wizards, who lost the last four games of a six-game homestand. The game came one day after guard Javaris Crittenton received probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanour gun charge, the latest fallout from last month's locker-room confrontation between Crittenton and Gilbert Arenas.
"I think we're all pretty much numb to the whole thing right now," Wizards coach Flip Saunders said.
Elsewhere in the NBA it was: New York 132 Minnesota 105; Dallas 108 Milwaukee 107; Charlotte 114 Phoenix 109 (OT); and Sacramento 99 Golden State 96.
At Wasshington, the Lakers took over a tight game with a 20-7 half-ending run that included Wizards turnovers of every kind. Shannon Brown stole the ball from DeShawn Stevenson, Andray Blatche travelled, Mike Miller and Mike James threw bad passes, the shot clock expired, and Brendan Haywood committed an offensive foul with 2.5 seconds left in the half.
Brown, meanwhile, used the quarter to tune up for the slam dunk contest at next month's all-star weekend. He put home an alley-oop, threw down a flying monster to end a fast break and stunned the Wizards by dunking a missed free throw by teammate Andrew Bynum. Derek Fisher's wide-open three-pointer gave the Lakers a 60-44 lead at the break.
"Against a team like that, that's all is takes is a quick three, four, five minutes where you're not playing your best," Haywood said. "They take advantage of that, and they basically cruise all game off that little 15-point cushion."
The Wizards stayed within shouting distance in the second half, mostly keeping the deficit between 10 and 15 points. Jamison cut it to nine, 91-82, by making a free throw with 8:58 left in the game, but the Lakers responded with a 12-2 run that included four points from Gasol, a three-pointer from Brown and a three-pointer and another jumper from Jordan Farmar.
Washington shot 51 per cent and outrebounded Los Angeles 41-32.
"If we had played as hard in the last few of our games as we did tonight, we would have had a good homestand," Saunders said.
Crittenton's probation means that 40 per cent of the Wizards roster has now received some sort of punishment in connection with the guns investigation, including the four players who were fined US$10,000 by the team for helping Arenas make fun of the saga when the three-time all-star pantomimed shooting his teammates before a game at Philadelphia.
More punishment is to come. Saunders said both Arenas and Crittenton were meeting with league officials this week, having to answer for breaking the league rule that bans firearms in the locker room as well as other facts that have come up in court.
Arenas, who has pleaded guilty to a felony gun charge and will be sentenced in March, is expected this week to learn the definitive length of his punishment after receiving an indefinite suspension Jan. 6. Crittenton has yet to receive a league punishment, although he hasn't played all season anyway because of a foot injury.
"We've been through some crazy stuff that don't normally happen," Jamison said. "I wish both guys could come back and play, but as a team, we've got to deal with what we have."
Knicks 132 Timberwolves 105
At New York, David Lee had 28 points and 10 rebounds, and the Knicks rebounded from a lopsided beating by administering one.
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Mavericks 108 Bucks 107
At Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored 28 points, Jason Terry added 21 and the Mavericks held on late.
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Bobcats 114 Suns 109/HL2 (OT)
At Phoenix, Stephen Jackson scored 30 points and Charlotte scored nine of the first 11 points in overtime. Victoria's Steve Nash had 23 points and nine assists for the Suns, who have lost seven of their last nine.
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Kings 99 Warriors 96
At Sacramento, Calif., Beno Udrih scored 24 points and Tyreke Evans had 23 to help the Kings snap a seven-game losing streak with a victory over Golden State.

Organizations: Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Wizards, Knicks Kings

Geographic location: Philadelphia, New York, Dallas Phoenix Victoria Sacramento, Calif. Golden

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