The Lakers handled the New Orleans Hornets for the fourth and final time in the regular season, winning tonight at Staples Center. Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, Pau Gasol had 23 points and 16 rebounds, Andrew Bynum scored 13 (including seven in a key 9-2 run in the fourth quarter) and Ron Artest had 11 points. “Size,” Bynum said when asked why the Lakers swept the season series with the Hornets, a possible first-round playoff opponent. Carl Landry scored 24 points and Emeka Okafor added 14 for the Hornets. The Lakers have won seven in a row and are 15-1 since the All-Star break last month.
The second-place Lakers (53-20) moved within four games of the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs (57-16), who lost tonight to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers also remained one game ahead of the third-place Dallas Mavericks (52-21), who beat the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers play host to the Mavericks on Thursday with second place possibly on the line.