Bryant-led L.A. defeats Sixers
PHILADELPHIA — Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are winning again. It’s just a two-game streak, but it’s still a turnaround from their abysmal play of late.
Bryant scored 34 points, Metta World Peace added 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds and the Lakers won consecutive games for the first time in nearly a month with a 111-98 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.
Dwight Howard had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who led 60-50 at halftime. Darius Morris had a career-high 15 points, all in the first half, and Chris Duhon scored 14. It was World Peace’s first double-double since Jan. 13, 2010, at Dallas.
The Lakers (11-14), who beat Washington 102-96 on Friday night, won two in a row for the first time since a three-game streak from Nov. 16-20.
“It’s guys playing with confidence and guys trusting each other,” said Bryant, who was 12 for 21 from the field and 8 for 9 from the free-throw line. “We played well, communicated well, kept attacking and good things happened. I know the questions have been coming because we hadn’t been winning, but our time will come.”
Even without injured stars Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, the Lakers hardly resembled the team which entered the night four games below .500. Bryant has scored at least 30 points in six consecutive games.
“We did a great job of attacking early and then we stayed with it,” he said. “Our bench did a great job and stepped up and our whole team stepped up and just played with confidence.”
Nick Young paced the reeling Sixers (12-12) with 30 points while Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner added 16 apiece. Thaddeus Young had 14 for Philadelphia, which dropped its third straight game for the first time this season.
“We just have to keep working, keep going to practice and go back to the drawing board,” Thaddeus Young said.
Like the Lakers, the Sixers also have been playing short-handed. Point guard Jrue Holiday, who averages a team-best 18.4 points, missed his second consecutive game with a sprained left foot.
Los Angeles led 87-73 after three, but the Sixers closed to 91-82 with 8:27 remaining.
The Lakers responded with a 9-3 surge to go back up by 15 at 100-85 with 5:15 left. Suddenly, all those boos careening down from the rafters toward Bryant and his teammates turned into fans heading up the aisles to leave the building.
“They knocked down a lot of 3s and they kind of spread the floor,” Nick Young said. “You have to give them credit.”
Los Angeles was 14 for 34 from 3-point range. Duhon was 4 for 10 from beyond the arc, and World Peace and Morris each made three 3s.
“Guys are playing well, we had open looks and guys were able to knock them down,” Duhon said. “I think you have to take what the defense gives you.”
The Lakers’ 10 3s in the first half broke the record for most in a half at the Wells Fargo Center, which opened in 1996.
TORONTO — Jose Calderon had 18 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds, and Toronto won consecutive games for the first time in eight months with a victory over Houston.
Alan Anderson had 24 points and DeMar DeRozan added 19 for the Raptors (6-19), who hadn’t won consecutive games since April 13 and 15 of last season.
James Harden scored 28 points for the Rockets and Marcus Morris added 19.
Former Raptors sharp-shooter Carlos Delfino drained two baskets in the final 1:04 to pull the Rockets within two points, but Calderon sunk two free throws to put Toronto back up by four.
The teams traded free throws for most of the final minute.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Reserve JaVale McGee scored 19 points, Danilo Gallinari had 18 and Denver built a big lead in the first half to cruise past Sacramento.
The Nuggets scored 16 straight points to snap a first-quarter tie and take control.
Denver has won seven in a row against the Kings. Sacramento has lost four straight overall.
Isaiah Thomas had 20 points and DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings.
Sacramento’s Aaron Brooks committed a hard foul against Andre Miller late in the first quarter and a mild altercation ensued involving Cousins and Kenneth Faried of the Nuggets. All four players were given technical fouls.
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