The Los Angeles Lakers were without Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace, and even Pau Gasol in the final crucial minutes, but were still able to hold off the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center, 92-83.
In a game that featured several lead changes, the Lakers pulled away in the final 2:32 minutes as Brooklyn failed to score. The Nets were unable to take advantage of their clear size advantage over Los Angeles after Gasol walked to the locker room on his own power with a foot injury late in the fourth quarter.
The Nets led 83-82, but Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace failed to knock down their shots as the Lakers went on a 10-0 run.
Kobe Bryant scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Steve Nash added 17 points and eight assists.
However, it was Earl Clark who played a key role in the L.A. victory. The 25-year-old forward converted six-of-nine shots for 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 41 minutes. Clark also hit a key outside shot with just over one minute remaining.
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P.J. Carlesimo’s squad struggled behind some rather pesky Lakers defense. Brooklyn shot just 34.8 percent from the field and turned the ball over 16 times. The Nets converted just six of their 23 three-point shot attempts.
Lopez led the Nets with 30 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. However, Brooklyn received little production from the rest of the squad, who managed to convert just 20 shots on 64 attempts for 53 points.
The victory was a step in the right direction for Los Angeles, as the team appears to be moving in the right direction following a poor first half of the season.
The Lakers have won six of their last seven games in their chase for a Western Conference playoff spot. Former Lakers great Jerry West told ESPN on Tuesday that he believes L.A. will make the playoffs despite their under-achieving record.
The Boston Celtics, a long-time rival of the Lakers, are up next for L.A. on Thursday. World Peace is set to return after a one-game suspension for an altercation with Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight on Sunday. Howard missed his third game with a sore right shoulder, and his status for Thursday remains uncertain.
The Nets' schedule eases after three notable matchups with the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and the Lakers. Brooklyn will face the struggling Pistons on Wednesday, followed by the Washington Wizards on Friday.