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Lakers Vs Hornets Tickets
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Kobe Bryant appears to be getting comfortable with the idea that he doesn't even need to score 20 points to help the LAL win.

Bryant scored 19 points, Andrew Bynum added 17 and the LAL won their fourth straight game, 109-80 over the NOH on Wednesday night.

"My role now has changed," said Bryant, whose scoring average is down from 31.6 points per game last season to 26.4 through 34 games this season. "I'm not the guy who has to go out and score 35-something points. They come to me to get buckets when we need a little boost here and there and that's as it should be."

With balanced scoring and stifling defense, the LAL turned what was supposed to be a marquee matchup between two of the NBA's hottest teams into a lopsided affair that left the home crowd groaning.

"We were very passive," NOH coach Byron Scott said. "We just didn't come out ready to play."

The LAL made 54.9 percent of their shots, hitting nine 3-pointers while outscoring New Orleans 52-36 inside. Bryant had seven assists, while Bynum, who had nine rebounds, outplayed NOH center Tyson Chandler, who finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Having won in Memphis a night earlier and facing a NOH squad that was well-rested after winning three straight on the road last week, Los Angeles scored on its first eight possessions and led by double digits for most of the game.

"It's a tough loss for us after winning three pretty good road games," said Chris Paul, who led the NOH with 32 points. "Maybe it was a lack of energy or just a lack of focus. They made shots. I don't think it was so much of what we didn't do as what they did well."

The disparity in scoring among both teams' reserves was a telling sign of how well the LAL have played in winning 10 of their last 12 games.

Los Angeles' reserves outscored the NOH' bench 42-9. The LAL also outrebounded New Orleans 45-40.

"We're doing a great job getting the spacing, knocking down shots and making teams pay," Bryant said. "We just come out and play with a lot of energy. We moved the ball very well and it's tough for teams to match up with and to guard because everybody's moving."

David West added 19 points for New Orleans, which shot 36.9 percent, hurt in part by 1-of-11 shooting from 3-point range as a team.

Luke Walton scored 14 for the LAL, while Lamar Odom added 11 and Trevor Ariza 10.

The NOH had chiseled a 19-point deficit to seven early in the second half when Bryant helped Los Angeles take the game over for good. His 3-pointer from the left wing started a 10-2 run that quickly extended the LAL' lead to 64-49.

Bryant later hit a driving layup and another 3-pointer with Morris Peterson in his face, then Odom added a pair of baskets underneath during another 10-0 run that put Los Angeles ahead 80-60 with under 4 minutes to go in the third quarter.

New Orleans was unable to get closer than 14 points thereafter.

Bryant and Bynum each scored eight points in the first quarter to help the LAL open an early double-digit lead, and it only got worse when LAL coach Phil Jackson put his reserves in to open the second quarter.

Ariza, Ronny Turiaf, Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittenton all scored during a 13-2 run that gave Los Angeles a 49-30 lead.

West, who scored 17 points in the first half, hit a pair of free throws and had a one-handed dunk on a putback to help spark the NOH' 9-2 run to end the half. Tyson Chandler finished it off with an alley-oop dunk from Paul, pulling New Orleans to 54-43 at halftime.

The LAL wouldn't allow the home crowd much to cheer about after that, however.

"We established something early in the game and were able to control the tempo," Jackson said. "This was a really good road win for us."


 


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