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Bryant returns to form as Lakers top Warriors

One night after a horrendous shooting performance, Kobe Bryant returned to MVP form with 40 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat Golden State, 120-112, at Staples Center.

Despite losing Andrew Bynum to an ankle injury, the Lakers posted their fifth win in seven contests. They also beat the Warriors for the 15th time in the last 16 meetings.

Bryant missed his first 15 shots and went 3-of-21 from the field, but made the go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute in an 88-85 home win over the Hornets Saturday afternoon. On Sunday night, he recorded his fifth game of at least 40 points this season. Bryant ended 16-of-28 from the field.

Bynum suffered a moderate sprain of his left ankle late in the first quarter. He rolled the ankle by landing on the foot of teammate Josh McRoberts while contesting a shot from David Lee. X-rays taken at the Staples Center were negative. He will be evaluated Monday.

Pau Gasol provided a big lift after Bynum left and ended with 26 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks. Ramon Sessions contributed a season- best 23 points along with nine assists.

Lee had 27 points for the Warriors, who lost their fifth in a row.

Golden State committed just five turnovers and made 11-of-21 attempts from beyond the arc, but could not provide the muscle needed to beat the Lakers. The Warriors were outrebounded, 50-29.

Richard Jefferson, who had 16 points, hit a three to get the visitors within 115-112 with 1:21 on the clock. Metta World Peace came right back 12 seconds later by nailing a long-distance shot from the left wing to restore the six- point margin and seal the outcome.

Bryant scored 13 in the opening quarter, but LA led only 27-26 after 12 minutes. It was 57-54 for the hosts at the half.

The Lakers started to pull away in the third when they shot 60 percent. Bryant scored 12 in the period, and the Lakers were up by as many as 15. They led, 89-76, going to the fourth.

Klay Thompson, who ended with 18 points, hit a driving layup to bring Golden State within 97-96 with seven minutes to go, but LA netted the next nine points, capped by a Bryant jumper.

Game Notes

The Lakers moved 1 1/2 games clear of the Clippers for the lead in the Pacific Division...Bryant has 112 games in which he's scored at least 40 points...Nate Robinson went 5-of-6 from beyond the arc and scored 17 in defeat...Troy Murphy equaled a season-high with 11 boards for LA...Golden State hasn't achieved much success as the guest in this series, losing eight in a row and 24 of 26 matchups.