Lakers 97, Magic 84

The Lakers rallied from nine-points down in the first half to win by double-digits tonight, rallying past the Orlando Magic at Staples Center for their 10th victory in 11 games since the All-Star break. They passed the Dallas Mavericks for second place in the Western Conference standings. Pau Gasol scored 23 points, Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom each had 16, Derek Fisher scored 15 and Andrew Bynum scored 10 points and tied his career high with 18 rebounds. Dwight Howard had 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Magic.

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Half: Magic 46, Lakers 41

Fans have been waiting for big things from Andrew Bynum and he’s starting to deliver on those expectations. Tonight’s first half against the Orlando Magic at Staples Center was another case in point. Bynum scored six points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked four shots to help keep the Lakers in contention. Dwight Howard, Bynum’s Orlando counterpart at center, had 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. The Lakers were within striking distance despite only four points on 2-for-10 shooting from Kobe Bryant.

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Bryant starts (of course)

Kobe Bryant started, as usual, for the Lakers in tonight’s game against the Orlando Magic at Staples Center. There had been two days of speculation that he might not be fit to play after spraining his left ankle in Saturday’s victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

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Bryant is a game-time decision

Kobe Bryant didn’t join the Lakers today for their video session and light workout, and after he arrived for treatment on his sprained left ankle, he declined to speak to reporters. Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he expected Bryant’s participation in Monday’s game against the Orlando Magic wouldn’t be made until right before the opening tip. Bryant hurt his ankle late in the third quarter of Saturday’s victory over the Dallas Mavericks. He hasn’t missed a game this season.

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Lakers 96, Mavs 91

DALLAS — The Lakers’ make-or-break trip is history, and they might have made up enough ground on the Dallas Mavericks to catch them in the Western Conference standings before the end of the regular season. The third-place Lakers (47-20) have 15 games remaining in order to overtake the second-place Mavericks (47-19). There’s no chance the Lakers can catch the conference- and league-leading San Antonio Spurs (54-12). The Spurs defeated the Houston Rockets tonight.

Andrew Bynum sparked the Lakers’ third win on their four-game trip by scoring a season-high 22 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Kobe Bryant scored only 16 points and suffered what Lakers coach Phil Jackson called a “severe” sprain to his left ankle. Jackson said he hoped Bryant could play Monday against the Orlando Magic. Lamar Odom got cut on his left eyelid and had to have it glued shut. The cut was in a sensitive place and could not be stitched. Pau Gasol added 18 points and Ron Artest had 12. Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki each scored 25 for Dallas.

The Lakers and the Mavericks play one more time, on March 31 at Staples Center.

Bryant on his sprained left ankle: “All jokes aside, I thought I was done. I was just praying that when I stood up that my foot was lined up straight. All jokes aside, that really scared me. It looked horrible and it felt worse. I thought I dislocated it. I wasn’t really sure how it was going to respond, jogging around back here (in the locker room) and then going back out to the floor and playing was a little different. It felt OK.”

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Bryant limps off

DALLAS — Kobe Bryant landed awkwardly on his left ankle, had to leave tonight’s game against the Dallas Mavericks late in the third quarter and went to the locker room to seek treatment. Bryant leaped to battle Dallas’ Shawn Marion for a loose ball, but crumpled to the court. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Lakers led the Mavericks, 73-65, going into the fourth quarter. Bryant had 12 points. He returned to the bench just as the fourth started. He was walking much better, and faster.

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Half: Lakers 50, Mavs 44

DALLAS — The Lakers were halfway to their third victory in four games on their last trip of significance this season. Andrew Bynum had 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting plus seven rebounds to lead the Lakers in the first half tonight against the Dallas Mavericks. Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant each scored 10. Bryant made only 4 of 11 shots. Shawn Marion scored 15 for Dallas, which led the Lakers by 1 1/2 games in the Western Conference standings and had won 20 of 23 games going into tonight. Dallas shot only 17 of 44 (38.6 percent).

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Barkley slaps the Heat

DALLAS — In case you missed it during TNT’s telecast of the Lakers’ loss to Miami on Thursday, here’s Charles Barkley’s message to the struggling Heat:

“Listen, I like Dwyane (Wade) a lot and I like LeBron (James) a lot. They are really starting to get on my last damn nerve. I’ve heard Dwyane say it twice and I’ve heard LeBron say it twice, that America is happy now that the Miami Heat are losing. Dwyane, let me break it to you, you know I love you, but nobody cares about the Miami Heat. The only people who hate the Miami Heat are the Cleveland fans. No one else cares about you. We just want you to play better, stop whining, stop sitting at every press conference like someone killed the family pet. It’s annoying. You guys came out there jumping on stage like idiots, said, ‘We are going to win five championships.’ You brought all this stuff on yourself. So don’t get on TV and act like the world owes you anything. You guys had your parade, you guys said that. Nobody said, ‘Come on stage and dance around.’ Nobody said, ‘You’re going to win five championships.’ You guys did. So quit whining and bitching like a little girl.”

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Gasol makes a funny

DALLAS — When asked today if he had ever stayed late after a game to work on his shooting, Pau Gasol said with a straight face, “Usually, I’m hungry after a game.” Kobe Bryant shot baskets for almost 90 minutes after the Lakers’ loss Thursday night to the Miami Heat, finishing a little after midnight local time. Bryant said it wasn’t the first time he had gone to a court to shoot, but it’s usually one near his home in Orange County.

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Kobe shooting baskets

MIAMI — The game ended at 9:51 p.m. local time, and after doing a round of interviews, Kobe Bryant headed back onto the court to shoot baskets. The arena was empty except for a few TV reporters getting ready to do their live shots plus a couple of Lakers beat reporters. Even the party people in the arena club were long gone. Bryant shot 3-pointers and free throws mostly for well over an hour, finally finishing a little after midnight. His T-shirt and sweat pants were soaked with sweat. The two ball boys were exhausted from rebounding and passing him the ball. A third came to join them.

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