The Los Angeles Lakers came together to win their second consecutive game without Kobe Bryant with a 101-89 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. Pau Gasol had a versatile effort with 21 points, 19 boards, eight assists and five blocks while Lamar Odom had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the defending NBA champions.
Los Angeles, who are five points ahead of Denver in the Western Conference, were also missing their starting centre Andrew Bynum, who has a hip injury. "We have quality players and with Kobe and Andrew out we had to play hard and play team basketball," Gasol said. "You have to fight through. That's what the NBA is about." "We knew they were going to come hard and going to play hard," said the Spurs' Tony Parker "Especially with Kobe out, you're going to have guys who are going to step up and that's what they did."
Bryant was missing because of an injured ankle. His absence from Saturday's win over Portland was the first game he has missed since 2007 and he is listed as day-to-day. "If I'm not able to play I won't play and If I am I will - it's as easy as that," Bryant said. "If [Sunday's] All-Star game were today I could not play in it. I'm just trying to push out inflammation and trying to minimise the pain and increase the range. It's a process."
Elsewhere in the NBA, Vince Carter had a season-high 48 points as the Orlando Magic came back from a 17-point second-half deficit to beat the New Orleans Hornets 123-117. "It's a new month. A new month brings new things. The past is the past, and it's going to be that," said Carter, who has found his form after a slow start to the season. "I've had rough months. That's just how it goes. And I know the expectations, and you work so hard to have an impressive resume, so it's expected each and every night.
There was a similar game in California, as the Dallas Mavericks' Jason Terry scored a season-best 36 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer, as his team came from 14 points down to beat the Golden State Warriors 127-117. "The best thing you can do is put pressure on them, don't settle and just play as hard as you can," Terry said. "If they outhustle you, they're going to win the game.
"It's my job is to go out and perform at a high level every night that I'm out there." * With agencies