NEW YORK—Kobe Bryant scored 21 points to help the Los Angeles Lakers overcome the absence of Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace, and a late injury to Pau Gasol, in a 92-83 NBA victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.
Howard missed the game as he continues to recover from a torn labrum in his right shoulder while World Peace was suspended by the NBA for the game after an incident in Sunday’s contest at Detroit in which he grabbed the Pistons’ Brandon Knight around the neck and struck him in the jaw with the back of his open hand.
Even so, the Lakers managed to post their sixth win in their past seven games as they battle to reach playoff contention.
“We’re more of a team, we’re sharing the ball, we’re playing better defensively,” said Lakers point guard Steve Nash, who scored 17 points with eight assists. “It was a good win for us.”
Earl Clark added 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who are currently 10th in the Western Conference.
The game was tied 80-80 when Bryant drove for a dunk that put the Lakers ahead with just over three minutes remaining.
Brook Lopez, who finished with 30 points for the Nets, responded with a three-point play to restore the Nets’ lead, but Antawn Jamison’s layup with 2:22 to play put the Lakers ahead for good.
Bryant followed with another basket and Clark drained a jump shot to build the Lakers’ lead to 88-83 with 1:11 to play.
Nash added four more free throws to complete the scoring.
“A lot of guys played really hard,” said Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni. “I hate to single one out because everybody that stepped on the floor did their job and more.
“We’re just playing better and that’s what’s more satisfying than anything.”
But the Lakers could be dealing with another injury blow after Gasol appeared to hurt his right foot with 4:21 to play. He was defending Lopez, and may have come down on the Nets’ player’s foot.
Gasol fell to the court and while he stayed in the game for a short time he eventually departed for the locker room.
“I think we’ll get an MRI tomorrow and find out,” D’Antoni said of the severity of Gasol’s injury. “Hopefully we’ll get Dwight back pretty soon. Hopefully Pau is not too bad.”