Kobe Bryant scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, Pau Gasol had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit for a 96-91 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night in another testy edition of their cross-hallway rivalry.
Andrew Bynum scored 19 points to help the Lakers snapped their three-game skid with their first win of the season over their fellow Staples Center tenants. The Clippers beat the Lakers twice in the preseason and again earlier this month, staking an early claim to L.A. superiority with their revamped lineup.
The Lakers aren't ready to cede the city just yet — and they were willing to fight for it. The clubs combined for six technical fouls, and the Lakers' Josh McRoberts was ejected.
Blake Griffin had 26 points and nine rebounds, and Caron Butler and Mo Williams added 16 points apiece for the Clippers, who led for nearly every possession of the first 3½ quarters. Chris Paul had four points and 12 assists for the Clippers in his return from a five-game absence because of a strained left hamstring.
After trailing for all but the opening basket, Bryant put the Lakers in front with six points during an 11-4 run capped by Metta World Peace's 3-pointer with 3:30 to play. The Lakers nursed the lead into the final minute, when Bynum made a lyaup and blocked DeAndre Jordan's shot in the paint on consecutive possessions, essentially sealing the Lakers' ninth straight "home" victory in the building shared by these clubs.
The Lakers have won 10 of their last 11 home games since Christmas, and the Clippers still haven't beaten the Lakers twice in a row since the 2006-07 season. The Lakers still failed to score 100 points for the 12th straight game, matching their longest low-scoring stretch since early 2004.
Paul hadn't played since the Clippers' home victory over the Lakers 11 days ago, but his teammates stayed in first place in the Pacific Division during his absence. Coach Vinny Del Negro appeared to be limiting Paul's minutes slightly, perhaps with an eye to the Clippers' five games in the next eight days.
Butler scored the Clippers' first 11 points, hitting three 3-pointers as they jumped to an early 10-point lead to the delight of their small fan contingent. The Clippers stayed narrowly ahead with 12 first-half points from Griffin, who landed his nightly jaw-dropping dunk when he drove past Gasol on the perimeter and floated past Bynum for a double-clutch jam.
Later, Griffin made a nimble reverse hook shot and a flying rebound putback dunk within a minute of each other.
The Lakers got unlikely offensive help from Andrew Goudelock, the rookie from College of Charleston who had scored just 10 points all season before matching that total midway through the second quarter against the Clippers. Goudelock hit two 3-pointers and didn't miss a shot until the third quarter.
The testiness and bad tempers that infiltrated this rivalry last year also resurfaced when Griffin and World Peace went down in a heap as they chased a loose ball at midcourt in the third quarter. Both teams surrounded the tangle of limbs and exchanged minor contact, but officials only ruled a jump ball.
Bryant committed six turnovers in the third quarter as the Clippers maintained their lead, and Mo Williams added the tension with a flagrant foul on Goudelock during a fast break early in the fourth. The officials attempted to keep peace with technical fouls — including two quick ones to McRoberts, who was ejected with 9:35 to play after two exchanges with the Clippers' Reggie Evans.
Chauncey Billups committed a technical foul during the Lakers' run to an 87-82 lead on World Peace's sixth 3-pointer in 38 tries during his dismal offensive season.
NOTES: Before the game, the Lakers sent second-year forward Derrick Caracter to Bakersfield of the D-League as he continues his rehabilitation from a torn meniscus in his left knee. ... Fans near courtside included David Beckham, Aziz Ansari, Jerry Bruckheimer, Mark McGrath and director McG.