Lakers win third straight game without Kobe

Pau Gasol had 22 points and 19 rebounds and the Los Angeles Lakers won their third straight without Kobe Bryant, beating Utah 96-81 on Wednesday night and ending the Jazz’s nine-game winning streak.Bryant rested his sore left ankle and the Lakers fared just fine without their superstar, getting 25 points and 11 rebounds from Lamar Odom and 18 points from Jordan Farmar.

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Gasol added five blocks as he and Odom shut down the lane and forced the Jazz outside.The Lakers broke open the game with a 12-0 run at the end of the first quarter and held a double-figure lead from early in the second period through the end.Deron Williams had 11 points, 10 assists and was one rebound short of a triple-double for Utah.Carlos Boozer had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko finished with 17 points, four blocks and five rebounds. Wesley Matthews added 13 points for the Jazz, who lost for the first time since Jan. 17.Los Angeles enters the All-Star break with the best record in the Western Conference at 41-13 despite not having Bryant for the last three games.They didn’t appear to need him Wednesday, never letting the Jazz take a lead and flustering them into outside shots that wouldn’t fall. The Jazz also hurt themselves with a dismal night at the foul line, going 13 for 25.Utah made a short-lived run early in the fourth quarter, but could only get within 12 points before the Lakers ended their only cold stretch of the night.The Lakers led by 19 at the end of the third and increased the lead to 20 before the fourth even began when Ronnie Price was called for a technical and Sasha Vujacic made the free throw to put the Lakers up 77-57.

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The Jazz tightened up defensively and used a 10-2 run to get back in it, holding the Lakers without a field goal until Farmar’s 3-pointer with 6:50 remaining put Los Angeles up 82-67.Farmar’s shot got the Lakers rolling on a 9-2 run that pretty much sealed it.The Lakers had been in control since the end of the first quarter. After the Jazz cut the lead to one point, the Lakers scored the next 12 and closed the period on Farmar’s 3-pointer that just beat the buzzer and gave Los Angeles a 31-18 lead.The Jazz didn’t score from Paul Millsap‘s layup that cut it to 19-18 with 3:18 left in the period.

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