LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Kirk Hinrich scored 19 points, Joakim Noah had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls held off the stubborn Los Angeles Lakers 92-86 on Sunday after nearly blowing a 19-point lead.
Taj Gibson added 18 points for the Bulls, who never trailed against an injury-ravaged Lakers squad missing Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Jordan Farmar, Nick Young, Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry.
Gasol, who had a season-high 19 rebounds the previous time the teams met, missed his fourth straight game because of a groin strain.
Center Chris Kaman scored a season-high 27 points off the bench for the Lakers, who won their previous two games following a 3-19 slide that buried them in the race for a Western Conference playoff spot.
Point guard Steve Nash, playing his third game after missing 39 because of a nerve problem in his back, had eight points in 21-plus minutes before departing with 5 minutes left in the third quarter because of irritation in his left leg.
The 18-year veteran and two-time MVP, who celebrated his 40th birthday on Friday with a team-high 19 points in a 112-98 victory at Philadelphia, was hit on the same leg he fractured last season.
Gibson, whose buzzer-beating layup in overtime gave the Bulls a 102-100 victory over the Lakers on Jan. 20 at Chicago, led the Bulls to a 52-46 halftime lead with 16 points. He made his seventh start of the season as Carlos Boozer missed his second straight game with a left calf strain.
The Bulls, who finished their road trip 3-3, and whose starters outscored Lakers starters 73-24, opened the game with a 10-0 run while the Lakers missed their first six shots — including an airball by Wesley Johnson on a 3-point attempt from 27 feet. Gibson’s reverse layup increased the Bulls’ margin to 15 before Los Angeles scored the next 12 points to slice the deficit to 42-39 with 5:55 left in the second quarter.
Chicago built its lead back up to 72-53, its biggest of the game, with a 15-5 run capped by Hinrich’s 3-pointer with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.
Down by 13 with 6:37 to play, the Lakers narrowed the gap to 88-84 after Steve Blake stole the ball from Heinrich and Kaman fed Johnson for a slam dunk that capped a 13-4 run with 48.3 seconds left. But D.J. Augustin, who had 15 points off the bench, sank four free throws in the final 21 seconds to help seal the victory.
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