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Kobe, Lakers Rout Timberwolves 116-94

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 33 points andAntawn Jamison added 17 in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 21st consecutive victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 116-94 on Thursday night.

Bryant and Jodie Meeks each hit four of Los Angeles’ 16 3-pointers, and Meeks finished with 16 points. The Lakers (29-30) have won 12 of 17 and five of seven while moving within two games of Houston for the eighth playoff position in the Western Conference with their longest stretch of solid play in this tumultuous season.

J.J. Barea scored 20 points and Luke Ridnour added 19 for the short-handed Timberwolves, who have lost four straight and 20 of 24.

Los Angeles’ mastery of Minnesota is the NBA’s longest active winning streak in a matchup. The Lakers never trailed the undermanned Wolves in the latest meeting, cruising to their 13th straight home win over Minnesota.

Ricky Rubio had 13 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds, but Minnesota never threated to get its first road win over the Lakers since Dec. 2, 2005.

Andrei Kirilenko sat out for Minnesota with a strained right calf, while Nikola Pekovic scored eight points before leaving with an abdominal strain in the first half.

The Lakers haven’t lost to Minnesota since March 6, 2007.

Bryant scored 22 points in a strong first half for the Lakers, clearly focused on scoring while the Timberwolves overcompensated defensively for their low-post injuries. Frequently guarded by Los Angeles native Derrick Williams, Bryant catalyzed a solid all-around game by the Lakers, who finally appeared to become a cohesive team in February.

Bryant and Steve Nash sat out the fourth quarter for the Lakers, who will have a chance to get back to .500 for the first time since Dec. 28 when they host Atlanta on Sunday night.

Bryant threw down a ferocious dunk over Pekovic on the Lakers’ second possession, and the fifth-leading scorer in NBA history played the entire half with particular fire. Los Angeles’ veteran legs appeared rejuvenated by two days off, and the Lakers took a 10-point halftime lead on nearly 53 percent shooting with eight 3-pointers.

Barea kept Minnesota close with 13 points on a series of strong drives to the hoop, but the Wolves’ lack of inside depth was obvious. Rubio also responded well to his benching late in Tuesday’s overtime loss at Phoenix.

NOTES: Los Angeles finished one 3-pointer shy of tying its franchise record for a regulation game, most recently matched Nov. 30 against Denver. … Kevin Love attended the game, but the former UCLA star hasn’t played since Jan. 3 with a broken bone in his right hand. … Zach Galifianakis, Will Arnett, Adam Carolla, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Los Angeles Galaxy players Robbie Keane and Mike Magee watched from courtside.

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