Monta Ellis scored 26 points, David Lee had 22 points and 17 rebounds, and the Golden State Warriors held on to beat the suddenly sluggish Los Angeles Lakers 95-87 on Wednesday night.
Stephen Curry added 20 points, six rebounds and five assists to help the Warriors build a 19-point lead in their third straight victory — all against playoff-bound teams. They have beaten Dallas, Portland and Los Angeles in perhaps their best stretch of wins all season.
Kobe Bryant had 25 points and Pau Gasol scored 18 for the Lakers, who lost for the second consecutive night to an inferior opponent. Bryant brought the Lakers within eight points in a frantic rally in the fourth quarter, but all that did was make the final score seem close.
A night after a lazy loss at home to the depleted Utah Jazz, the Lakers might have played even worse in ending any chance of earning the top seed in the Western Conference. San Antonio's victory over Sacramento, combined with the Lakers' loss, gave the Spurs home-court advantage throughout the West playoffs.
The Lakers were in constant confusion and made mistake after mistake — often in glaring fashion — with Bryant shouting at teammates seemingly after every one. Some passes went into the stands, shots weren't falling and there was little hustle.
Not exactly the kind of performances the two-time defending champions wanted in the home stretch of the regular season.
The Warriors, who handed out "Beat LA!" posters to every fan, withstood Bryant's burst in the first quarter that put Los Angeles ahead by 12 points early. Instead, it was Golden State that controlled most of the first half with solid performances on both ends of the court.
Curry even added some flair with a half-court underhand pass to Al Thornton during a run that pushed Golden State's lead to seven in the second quarter. The Lakers scored the first six points of the third quarter only to watch another hot start evaporate.
Dorell Wright hit a 3-pointer — and another one in the fourth to finish with 185 on the season — to break Jason Richardson's club record of 183 set in the 2005-06 season. Ellis and Curry also added jumpers, and Golden State went ahead 72-55 after three quarters.
The lead was big enough that Lakers coach Phil Jackson didn't even bring Bryant in the game until a little more than 6 minutes left. He sat along with Ron Artest and Derek Fisher for heavy minutes watching another miserable late-season defeat, and by the time they returned, it was far too late.
NOTES: Warriors C Andris Biedrins missed his 11th straight game with a sprained left ankle. It is becoming increasingly likely he will not play again this season. ... Warriors G Acie Law will have season-ending surgery Thursday on the bone spurs in his right wrist, the team said. ... Rapper and Oakland native Too Short performed with the Warrior Girls during a timeout in the first quarter. ... A video tribute was played during a timeout in the second quarter to honor former Warriors star Chris Mullin, who was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday.