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Kobe scores 43 as Lakers surge past Sonics

SEATTLE (AP) -- Kobe Bryant stopped a troubling trend of third
quarter struggles for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant scored 43 points and the Lakers used an impressive second
half to beat the Seattle SuperSonics 106-93 on Friday night.

The Lakers rebounded from a second half collapse a night earlier
to San Antonio, when the Lakers were outscored 35-18 in the third

They reversed that against Seattle, outscoring the Sonics 29-17
and picking up a critical road victory in the battle for a playoff
spot. The Lakers (39-35) are seventh in the Western Conference, 1½
games up on Sacramento.

"We had to have this one," Bryant said. "We've had losses and
we don't want them coming in bunches. We have to stop it right

Bryant had his 22nd 40-point game of the season. The league's
leading scorer is one behind Elgin Baylor's franchise record for
the most 40-point games in one season. Baylor set the mark during
the 1962-63 season. Bryant made 17 of 38 shots and scored 24 in the
second half.

Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown both finished with double-doubles.
Brown scored 12 points and had 13 rebounds, while Odom scored 12
with 10 rebounds and five assists.

"The idea when we came here was we weren't going to let this
game get by us," Lakers' coach Phil Jackson said.

Ray Allen led Seattle with 29 points, but was just 2-for-8 in
the fourth quarter with five points. Seattle shot just 29 percent
in the second half and was outscored 54-37.

"I had a lot of good looks. It just seemed like they were in
and out," Allen said. "It was a tale of two halves."

Again the marquee matchup was Allen and Bryant. Their
relationship is at best contentious, each trading verbal barbs in
the past. Both were relatively quiet verbally -- Bryant was called
for a technical in the first half -- but it was Bryant making noise
during the decisive third quarter.

Seattle went ahead 61-54 as Allen scored the first five points
of the half. The Lakers then rattled off the next nine and took
their first lead of the game at 63-61 when Chris Wilcox was called
for goaltending on Smush Parker's drive with 6:57 left in the

After taking 20 shots in the first half, Bryant yielded his
attempts to teammates for most of the quarter. He took over in the
final four minutes, scoring 10 points as the Lakers' closed the
quarter on 12-5 run.

"The third quarter has been our nemesis," Bryant said. "We
were able to come out and not only play well in the third quarter,
but play well enough to give us a cushion."

While Bryant shot free throws, a small, partisan section of the
crowd starting chanting "MVP" and his reverse layup with 1 second
left in the quarter gave the Lakers their biggest lead at 81-73.

The trend continued into the fourth. Bryant triple-pumped and
scored on a fallaway 18-footer over Allen to start the quarter,
while Allen missed his first three attempts. The Lakers' lead
reached 12 on Ronny Turiaf's tip-in with 10:04 left.

Allen and Rashard Lewis made consecutive 3-pointers to pull
Seattle within 89-83 with 7:20 left, but Devean George pushed the
lead back to nine with a 3-pointer. Seattle never got closer than

"I never thought I'd be sitting here saying nobody on the
Sonics could make a shot, but that's what happened," Seattle coach
Bob Hill said.

Allen failed to get the help that led Seattle to a 120-113 win
over the Lakers earlier this month in Los Angeles.

Lewis returned after missing Wednesday's loss to Houston with a
sprained right ankle, but many of his shots came up short and he
finished with 11 points on five of 16 shooting. Wilcox added 16 and
Johan Petro scored 12.

Meanwhile, Bryant got help from everywhere. Parker scored 10
points, while Turiaf added six points with seven rebounds off the
bench. Luke Walton made a pair of 3-pointers as well and finished
with eight points.

"We've let losses affect us all season," Walton said. "This
win was big."

Game notes
Turiaf, a star at Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash., received a
loud ovation when he checked in with 4:31 left in the first
quarter. ... Injured Sonics' F Nick Collison has resumed limited
practicing with the team. Collison, who partially tore the plantar
fascia in his left foot, said he hopes to return in the next couple
of weeks. He was injured on March 5. ... KeyArena was sold-out for
just the second time since late January.

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