NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Pau Gasol had 25 points and nine rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame Kobe Bryant’s absence to beat the New Orleans Hornets, 93-91 on Monday night.
Bryant missed his second straight game with a sore left shin, but Ramon Sessions helped pick up the slack with 17 points, including a 3-pointer that put the Lakers ahead by six with 26 seconds left. Andrew Bynum added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who snapped a two-game skid.
Carl Landry had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Marco Belinelli scored 20 points for New Orleans, which led by as much as eight points in the fourth quarter, before the Lakers stormed back.
Greivis Vasquez added 18 points and 11 assists for the Hornets, hitting a career-high five 3-pointers on six attempts.
Chris Kaman had 16 points and five blocked shots, but committed his fifth foul with 6:04 left and had to sit for nearly four crucial minutes as New Orleans lost to the Lakers by six or fewer points for the third time in three meetings.
Gasol and Bynum helped the Lakers control the paint, as Los Angeles outscored New Orleans 42-28 inside and outrebounded the Hornets 46-35.
New Orleans stayed closed thanks in part to 9 of 15 shooting from deep, with Belinelli hitting four 3s.
After trailing by as much as nine points in the second quarter, the Hornets surged ahead by nine in the third period after a 12-4 run that included a 3 by Vasquez and a three-point play by Al-Farouq Aminu on a driving layup.
The lead was still at nine after Jason Smith’s floater late in the third quarter, but the Lakers quickly cut it to 72-68 on Sessions’ driving layup shortly before the end of the period and Metta World Peace’s 3 to open the fourth.
The Hornets did not wilt right away as they often have this season, thanks to Belinelli, who scored seven straight Hornets points on a bail-out jumper at the shot clock buzzer, a double-pump jumper and a 29-foot 3 late in the shot clock to make it 79-71.
Soon after, a rare sellout crowd was chanting: “Beat L.A!”
That was right about the time the Hornets started missing shots and the Lakers stormed back.
Steve Blake drained a 3 from the corner and sank an off-balance floater off the glass during a 15-2 run that also included two inside buckets by Bynum. World Peace’s 3 put Los Angeles back in front 89-86 with 1:31 left, then Sessions added a 3 to make it 92-86, and New Orleans could not quite recover, despite World Peace nearly turning the ball over with a long inbound pass to the Lakers’ back court with 1.2 seconds left. Smith got his hand on the pass but could not corral it.
Gasol had 15 points in the first half, when the Lakers led by as much as nine on Troy Murphy’s jumper that made it 40-31. Vasquez then hit the first of his 3-pointers and Kaman followed with a jumper, igniting a 12-2 run that included a second 3 by Vasquez and Kaman’s jumper, The surge briefly put the Hornets in the lead before Gasol’s jumper, which beat the halftime horn, put the Lakers back in front 44-43.
Notes: Hornets G Eric Gordon was out with back stiffness that had lingered since New Orleans’ previous game. … The Hornets used their NBA-high 23rd different starting lineup this season. Aminu started along with Kaman, Smith, Belinelli and Vasquez. Trevor Ariza did not play because of what Hornets coach Monty Williams described as a move to get more playing time for younger players like Aminu and Lance Thomas. … Devin Ebanks started at point guard with Bryant on the bench in a dark suit. Ebanks finished with six points in 26 minutes. … Saints general manager Mickey Loomis sat on the baseline near the Hornets’ bench. Earlier in the day, his eight-game suspension was upheld in on appeal by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the Saints’ bounty scandal. … Sitting across from Loomis on the other baseline was actor Christoph Waltz, who plays a German bounty hunter in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” which currently filming in New Orleans. Leonardo DiCaprio, who also stars in the film, sat in courtside seats. … Announced attendance was 17, 275, the fourth sellout of the season.