Sports

Lakers outlast Warriors

OAKLAND -- In the Golden State Warriors locker room early Monday evening, Kelenna Azubuike respectfully declined to be labeled the next "Kobe stopper."

"Anytime he hears something like that," Azubuike said of Bryant, "he gets (mad)."

Apparently, he gets pretty mad at the notion of losing on consecutive nights to the Warriors, too. After being neutralized in the first half, Bryant scored 23 of his 30 points after halftime to set the Lakers up for a 123-119 overtime win at Oracle Arena.

Bryant was held scoreless for all but the final 3.3 seconds of overtime, but his teammates took the Lakers those final yards to avoid losing a season series to Golden State for the first time since 1994-95. Lamar Odom finished with 23 points and 21 rebounds, and Sasha Vujacic hit 19 off the bench as the Lakers split this home-and-road back-to-back.

The defeat means the Warriors will have to wait another year to try and take a season series from the Lakers. Of more immediate importance, it leaves Golden State (43-27) just a half-game ahead of Denver in the fight for eighth place in the Western Conference standings and relieves some of the pressure on a Dirk Nowitzki-less Dallas Mavericks (44-26).

Baron Davis scored 30 points -- including two free throws with 3.6 seconds left in regulation to force OT -- and had nine rebounds and seven assists, while Stephen Jackson tallied 29 points, but the Warriors, who went only six deep for a second consecutive night, paid the price they avoided Sunday.

The Warriors built a 117-113 lead with 1:40 left in overtime on the back of four points from Monta Ellis, who played outstanding ball for the final seven minutes after struggling horribly to that point with an errant shot.

But Derek Fisher knocked down a 3-pointer, Al Harrington missed one badly at the other end and Vujacic hit another triple at the 43.7-second mark for a 119-117 Lakers lead.

Azubuike tied things up with a tap-in basket, but Odom responded with a layup at the other end to make it 121-119 Los Angeles, and the Warriors' next possession, with 4 seconds left, ended in controversy as official Bob Delaney called Ellis for an offensive foul when he and Fisher crashed to the ground on the inbounds play.

Both players appeared to have their arms around each other, but the call infuriated the Warriors and all but handed the game to the Lakers, who got two clinching free throws from Bryant with 3.3 seconds remaining in the game.

As with Sunday night in Los Angeles, the Warriors looked like they were taking 25 minutes for halftime instead of the typical 15, kicking away a 13-point lead in a matter of minutes.

Golden State had a flurry still left, however, beginning with the Lakers holding a 110-101 lead and 2½ minutes left in regulation. A fast-break layup by Ellis made things interesting at 110-105 with 1:23 left. Then Ellis picked Ronny Turiaf's pocket to set up another fast-break bucket for Azubuike, making it 110-107 at the 1:02 mark.

A wild miss by Bryant, strongly defended by Jackson on the play, led to a reverse layup by Ellis with 33.1 seconds to go that made it 110-109 Lakers.

Odom split a pair of free throws with 9.9 seconds left, leaving the door open. Opportunity knocked when Davis was fouled by Bryant at the top of the key with 3.6 seconds to go. Davis drained both to force the 111-111 tie, and Fisher's running 18-footer at the buzzer was off-line.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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