LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant scored 37 points, Pau Gasol added 26 points and eight rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers never trailed in their 14th victory in 15 games since the All-Star break, 112-104 over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
During a game filled with flashy plays and two more jaw-dropping alley-oop dunks by rookie Blake Griffin, the Lakers maintained a steady lead over their cross-hallway rivals for their NBA-leading 10th wire-to-wire win of the season.
Ron Artest added 15 points and Andrew Bynum had 11 points and 12 rebounds in his return from a two-game suspension for the Lakers, who have won six straight.
Mo Williams scored a season-high 30 points and Griffin added 22 for the Clippers, who have lost four of six.
In the final minute, 7-foot Clippers center Chris Kaman jolted 6-1 Lakers guard Derek Fisher with a physical pick on the perimeter. Kaman and Fisher started jawing and eventually were separated by officials, who ejected Kaman and called a technical foul on Fisher with 28.8 seconds to go.
This is nothing new for the local clubs. In their meeting on Jan. 16, Griffin, Artest, Lamar Odom and Baron Davis all were ejected for a minor scuffle with 5.7 seconds left.
At least the Staples Center co-tenants managed to end the streak of overtimes that has plagued their building this week, with two shootout victories for the Los Angeles Kings bookending the Lakers' triple-overtime win over Phoenix and the Clippers' double-OT victory over Washington.
The Lakers (52-20) also maintained their one-game lead over Dallas (51-21) for second place in the Western Conference with 10 games to go. The Mavericks visit Staples Center on Thursday.
Eric Gordon scored seven points for the Clippers on 3-for-14 shooting, missing his first 11 shots in his fourth game back from missing 24 games with an injured right wrist. DeAndre Jordan had just three points in his return from a two-game absence with pneumonia.
Before the game, Gasol pledged to donate $1,000 for each point he scored to Japan relief. Magic Johnson then vowed to match Gasol's contribution, adding up to $52,000 raised against the Clippers.
Bryant shot a season-high 17 free throws and moved easily on his sprained left ankle. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and got up smiling from a hard foul in the final seconds.
The Clippers had a fast break that would have trimmed the Lakers' lead to two points with 40 seconds left, but Artest swiped the ball away from Griffin off the dribble, and Derek Fisher hit two free throws.
The local rivalry game was the last of Lakers coach Phil Jackson's career if he follows through on his repeated vows to retire after the season. The game also might have been the last with just two teams in the metropolitan area, with the Sacramento Kings currently weighing a move to Anaheim for next season.
Jackson isn't among the many local fans of the would-be Anaheim Royals' prospective move, which would put three NBA teams within 40 miles of each other in a five-county area with nearly 18 million residents. The 11-time champion coach called it "ridiculous" to put another franchise in the Los Angeles area, claiming "it puts a lot of pressure on everybody in the area."
The Lakers made their first seven shots and jumped to a 16-point lead in the first quarter, which ended with a fearsome alley-oop dunk by Griffin on a pass from beyond half court by Al-Farouq Aminu.
Highlights came fast and furious in the first half, from Shannon Brown's floating-under-the-rim reverse dunk to another Griffin alley-oop. By the third quarter, Bryant conceded a layup to Williams on a 2-on-1 break rather than allowing an alley-oop to Griffin, the prohibitive favorite for rookie of the year honors.
Artest was at his eccentric best for the Lakers, following up a rare dunk by leaping in the air and flexing his biceps. He then celebrated a 3-pointer by blowing kisses in the air in the third quarter — but only after missing back-to-back dunks earlier in the period.
Notes: Bynum missed the Lakers' wins over Portland and Phoenix for a flagrant foul against Minnesota's Michael Beasley a week ago. ... In the second quarter, the Lakers' Matt Barnes reached behind his head for a rebound and inadvertently catapulted it back into the basket from a few feet away. Craig Smith got credit for the bucket. ... The Clippers have lost eight straight "road" games against the Lakers.