Los Angeles, CA – All Kobe Bryant wanted a month ago was to make the playoffs.
He finally has his Los Angeles Lakers back on the right side of the standings.
Bryant tallied 19 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in the Lakers' 90-81 win over the Chicago Bulls.
The Lakers began the campaign 17-25, but have rebounded by going 16-6 since to leap frog the Utah Jazz by a half-game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"We're playing much better," said Bryant. "We read [Chicago's] defense today and we found a better rhythm."
Dwight Howard added 16 points and 21 boards for Los Angeles, which has won six straight games at Staples Center.
"Howard set the tone and dominated the paint," said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. "Kobe came out as a playmaker. Give them credit, they played good defense. Rebounding was a huge factor."
Joakim Noah finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls, who have dropped three of their last four tilts. Nate Robinson recorded 19 points and eight assists in defeat.
LA headed into the break with a 44-40 edge, but began to pull away in the third.
Luol Deng's running hook shot pulled the Bulls within 49-44 with 9:47 left in the third before the Lakers countered with a 16-3 surge. Steve Nash had seven points during the swing, which was capped on back-to-back 3-pointer by Bryant and Jodie Meeks for a 65-47 margin.
LA took a 73-61 advantage into the fourth and led by at least eight throughout the final frame.
The Lakers led 20-16 after a period of play.
Chicago had won three straight in the series ... Nash scored 16 points ... Los Angeles was just 5-of-26 from beyond the arc and 7-of-14 from the foul line ... Carlos Boozer had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago.