LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his 24 points on a variety of jump shots during a dynamic second quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers sent the Washington Wizards to their 11th straight loss, 99-92 Sunday night.
Pau Gasol had 28 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who won their sixth straight after a three-game skid. The defending NBA champions had little trouble with woeful Washington in the first three quarters, jumping to a 26-point halftime lead after another memorable quarter by Bryant.
After hitting four 3-pointers and scoring 16 points in the final 5½ minutes before halftime alone, Bryant fell one point shy of matching Alex English for 12th place on the NBA's career scoring list when he scored just two points in the second half.
Former USC guard Nick Young matched his season high with 22 points for the Wizards, who are two losses shy of tying the worst skid in franchise history, established in 1967 and matched in 1995.
Al Thornton had 18 points, and Andray Blatche added 16 points and 12 rebounds as Washington wrapped up a four-game road trip with its seventh straight loss to the Lakers.
Bryant's perimeter accuracy propelled the Lakers on a 25-6 run to a 59-33 halftime lead. He did it all on shots longer than 12 feet, including three consecutive 3-pointers in the final minutes.
Bryant then shut it down in the second half, taking his only shot in the opening moments of the third quarter. Washington outscored the Lakers 32-17 in the fourth to trim the margin of victory.
The Lakers played the first of several games without starting center Andrew Bynum, who could be out for more than two weeks after straining his left Achilles' tendon in Friday's win over Minnesota. Bynum, the Lakers' third-leading scorer (15.0) and rebounder (8.3), might be sidelined until shortly before the playoffs with his third significant injury in three years.
Lamar Odom took Bynum's spot in the Lakers' starting lineup, getting four points and 13 rebounds. Ron Artest scored 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while Bynum's absence also meant 19 minutes for Josh Powell, who scored five points.
Los Angeles improved the Western Conference's best record to 52-18 with a league-best 32nd home victory. The Lakers lead Denver by five games in the conference standings with 12 to play.
The Lakers got a comfortable win before starting the biggest remaining test of their regular season: They'll open a five-game road trip in San Antonio on Wednesday, with future stops in Oklahoma City and Atlanta. The Lakers play just four of their final 12 games at Staples Center.
NOTES: Thornton played his first game back at Staples Center since the Clippers traded him on Feb. 17. ... Lakers coach Phil Jackson said they can't predict a timetable for Bynum's return. He missed 46 games during the 2007-08 season with a dislocated left knee, and he sat out 32 games last season with a torn ligament in his right knee. ... Courtside fans included actors Gerard Butler and Adrien Brody, and California's first lady, Maria Shriver.