Los Angeles: Pau Gasol scored a team-high 25 points and Andrew Bynum added 14 rebounds before being ejected to help NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 106-98 on Friday.
Minnesota led 51-49 at halftime and then 94-93 with 3:52 left on the clock but Spanish forward Gasol knocked in a two-point jump shot to spark an unbroken eight-point run by the Lakers as they regained control in a physical encounter.
All-Star guard Kobe Bryant scored 18 points for Los Angeles, despite a sprained left ankle.
The (49-20) Lakers, who have won 11 of 12 games since the All-Star break, move one game ahead of the (48-21) Dallas Mavericks into sole second place in the Western Conference.
"It was a difficult game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson told reporters. "We kind of anticipated it. The first half was erratic at best, second half we played a little bit better."
Wes Johnson top-scored with a career-high 29 points for the Timberwolves, who suffered their 15th defeat on the trot at the hands of the Lakers and now lie second-last in the West.
Seven-foot centre Bynum was ejected with 6:16 remaining for a flagrant foul while driving past Michael Beasley, who fell to the floor.
"He was going to go block the shot but he was too late so he just bumped him, just gave up on the ball ... he didn't do it in a way that was malicious," Jackson said.
- INDIANA 115 Chicago 108(OT)
- ORLANDO 85 Denver 82
- TORONTO 116 Washington 107
- Miami 106 ATLANTA 85
- DETROIT 99 NY Knicks 95
- OKLAHOMA 99 Charlotte 82
- San Antonio 97 DALLAS 91
- HOUSTON 93 Boston 77
- MILWAUKEE 110 New Jersey 95
- PHOENIX 108 Golden State 97
- Philadelphia 102 SACRAMENTO 80
- LA LAKERS 106 Minnesota 98
(OT indicates overtime victory)