Published March 26, 2011
LOS ANGELES, March 25 (Reuters) - The red-hot Los Angeles Lakers extended their winning streak to seven games with a 112-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on Friday.
The Lakers have won 14 of 15 games since the All-Star break and now trail Western Conference leading San Antonio by five games following the Spurs' 98-96 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Although the Lakers opened a 16-point lead in the first quarter and led wire-to-wire, the Clippers stayed in touch throughout to prevent the home team from feeling comfortable until the final minute.
Holding a four-point lead with 39 seconds remaining, Ron Artest halted Blake Griffin's drive to the basket with a clean steal and the Lakers closed out the win with the final four points.
Kobe Bryant led the home team with 37 points, Artest added 15 and Andrew Bynum returned from a two-game suspension and had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol pledged to donate $1,000 he scored to relief in Japan, and scored 26.
"It was great. We're just creating awareness of how many people are suffering," the Spaniard said.
"Obviously, the natural disaster that (Japan) suffered is really rough. So I think that all the support that we can create and all the more that we can contribute, the better. This was a good way for me to be involved."
Mo Williams scored a season-high 30 points, and Griffin added 22, including a couple of spectacular trademark dunks.
The Clippers were, however, let down by a seven-point effort from their leading scorer Eric Gordon who averages 23.7 points per game.
(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by John O'Brien)