In a game the Lakers never trailed, they also were never able to put away the resilient Philadelphia 76ers, and needed some late points by Kobe Bryant to get a 102-98 win at Staples Center on New Year’s Eve.
Bryant, who was held to a season-low nine points in a win in Philadelphia earlier this month, scored a game-high 33 points, including the tiebreaking jumper with just over 90 seconds left, as the Lakers hung on to get the victory. The win snapped a two-game home losing streak for the Lakers.
The Sixers did have chances to win the game at the end, but UCLA-product Jrue Holiday missed a three-pointer late, and guard Lou Williams followed with the same with four seconds left. Bryant then hit two free throws to seal the victory.
Pau Gasol had 20 points and eight rebounds, bouncing back from some recent sub-part scoring games. Lamar Odom had 18 points and seven rebounds off the bench, and Andrew Bynum scored eight points and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds.
The Lakers led the game the entire way, and by as many as 12 at one point, but the young Philadelphia squad kept hanging around. They trailed 52-44 at halftime, and 82-73 after three quarters, but managed to fight back and tie the game at 98 with just over a minute left. They never did score again however, as Bryant scored the game’s final four points for the world champs.
For the second straight game, the Lakers shot over 50% from the field, hitting 42-82 (51.2%) against Philadelphia. The also dominated on the glass, 45-35, including 11 at the offensive end. However, they did only hit 4-14 (28.6%) from beyond the arc, as they continue to struggle from long range in recent games.
The Sixers, who played without Andre Iguodala for the third straight game, were led by Holiday’s 19 points and 11 assists. Off the bench, Lou Williams scored 18, and Thaddeus Young had 14. In fact, the 76ers’ bench scored 44 of the team’s 98 points.
The Lakers are in the middle of a three-game homestand that will continue on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies, who have already beaten the Lakers once this season, 98-96 back on November 13th at the FedEx Forum.
The Lakers will play six of their next eight games at home, with only two of the games against teams with winning records (New Orleans and New York). With the schedule getting increasingly harder in the middle of the month, the Lakers need to take advantage and get wins against the weaker teams to climb back closer to the top spot in the Western Conference.