The Los Angeles Lakers received quite a scare in their last outing but will get back to work on Tuesday when they shoot for an eighth consecutive win over the New Jersey Nets.
The Lakers, who are currently the third seed in the Western Conference playoff race, saw their season flash before their collective eyes when All-Star center Andrew Bynum went down with a left ankle injury during a 120-112 win over Golden State on Sunday.
The big man, who has a history of leg injuries, rolled the ankle during the first quarter when he landed on the foot of teammate Josh McRoberts while contesting a shot from David Lee. X-rays taken at the Staples Center were negative, however, and the injury was described as a moderate sprain.
In the game itself, Kobe Bryant rebounded from a horrendous shooting performance the day before to score 40 points for LA, which posted its fifth win in seven contests and topped 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, ending 16-of-28 from the field.
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.
"When Andrew went down we stepped it up and played well," Gasol said. "I had more looks and I felt comfortable. Once Kobe knocked down his first three or four shots, I knew he was going to have a big game."
The Lakers currently lead their Staples Center co-tenants, the Clippers, by just one game for both the No. 3 spot in the West as well as Pacific Division bragging rights.
Bynum has indicated he will play tonight but has been officially listed as doubtful by the Lakers.
"With Andrew out of the lineup, it's not a championship formula, but we can win," Bryant said.
The Nets, meanwhile, have been playing well recently, and improved to 2-0 on a four-game road trip by topping Sacramento, 111-99, on Saturday.
Anthony Morrow connected on six three-pointers en route to 24 points in that one for New Jersey.
Deron Williams poured in 19 points and handed out 15 assists, Gerald Wallace netted 18 points and Kris Humphries recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets, who secured their season-high third straight victory.
"We're playing better defensively, which is helping us on offense," said Williams after the win. "We're giving a good team effort. It's different guys stepping up. We're just getting great, great team efforts night in and night out."