Kobe Bryant scored 23 points, Pau Gasol added 21 and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 110-90 Friday night, becoming the first NBA team to reach 50 victories.
Bryant and Gasol both went 5-for-5 from the line and Gasol grabbed a team-leading nine rebounds as the Lakers won their sixth in a row at home and beat the Wolves for the eighth consecutive time.
Ryan Gomes scored 20 points and rookie Kevin Love added 18 points and 14 rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped its eighth in a row and fell to 10-20 on the road. Sebastian Telfair had 18 points after missing the last two games with a sore right groin.
Bryant's work was done after three quarters, when the Lakers led by 18. That allowed him to lead the cheers from the bench. He was up on his feet when DJ Mbenga came up with a huge block of Rodney Carney midway through the fourth. Shannon Brown's one-handed dunk brought the entire bench onto the floor.
The Lakers' second unit played the final period, giving them valuable experience and the coaching staff a chance to assess their skills ahead of the playoffs.
The Wolves outscored Los Angeles 9-2 behind five points by Love to open the third quarter, leaving them trailing 49-45. That's as close as Minnesota came over the final three periods. The Wolves shot just 33 percent for the game.
Bryant's jumper sparked a 28-14 run to end the quarter and send the Lakers into the final 12 minutes leading 77-59. Gasol had nine points and Derek Fisher seven in the spurt. But Bryant triggered two of the highlight moments.
He made consecutive 3-pointers, the second off a steal of Shelden Williams' bad pass, before Josh Powell's tip-in on a play that began with Fisher's steal of Gomes' bad pass. That sequence put the Lakers ahead by 21.
Bryant sat down for good with 1:53 left in the quarter.
Bryant's second basket of the game late in the second quarter allowed him to pass Robert Parish for 18th on the NBA's career scoring list, and he now has 23,354 points. Parish achieved his 23,334 points over 21 seasons, while Bryant is in his 12th year.
When the feat was announced coming out of a timeout, Bryant stuck his right hand in the air to acknowledge the standing ovation and fan chants of "MVP!"
He was mostly quiet until the final 5 1/2 minutes of the period, when Bryant scored the final 13 points to keep the Lakers ahead 47-36 at halftime.
The Lakers swept the Wolves 4-0 for the second consecutive season and are 10-1 in the teams' last 11 meetings.
Notes:@ Minnesota starter Randy Foye sat out with a hip pointer sustained in practice Wednesday. "Kevin Love tried to take a charge on me and I fell on top of him," Foye said. "His elbow hit my hip. I finished practicing, but it was real sore and clicking." ... F Sun Yue, sent down by the Lakers to their D-League team earlier Friday to get more playing time, had 11 points and seven assists in the D-Fenders' 108-103 victory over the Anaheim Arsenal. ... Former UCLA star Love was a popular draw in his third trip back to Los Angeles this season. The NBA rookie sat courtside at the Bruins' game Thursday night and signed autographs for early arriving fans on Friday. Being on a losing team for the first time in his career is tough, he said, adding, "It's been something I've had to adjust to." ... Brazilian soccer star Marta, who will play on LA's team in the new women's pro league, sat courtside. Behind her was former Laker and Chicago Bulls player Ron Harper.
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