Bryant, big 3rd quarter push Lakers past Hawks

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LOS ANGELES - Kobe Bryant had 41 points and eight rebounds, Andrew Bynum added 21 points and the Los Angeles Lakers pulled away with 18 consecutive points in the third quarter for a 118-110 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night.

Lamar Odom had 11 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists for the defending NBA champions, who bounced back from a loss to Dallas with an overwhelming second half in Atlanta's first defeat.

Joe Johnson scored 18 of his 27 points in the first quarter for the Hawks, who opened a four-game road trip with an embarrassing third quarter before a late run made the score respectable.

Rookie point guard Jeff Teague also made another strong impression with 12 points in the fourth quarter of the Hawks' fourth straight loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles.

Bryant capped the 97th 40-point game of his career with eight points in the final minutes to hold off the Hawks' last rally.

The Lakers' home loss to the Mavericks on Friday night left coach Phil Jackson concerned about everything from their pick-and-roll defense to their overall intensity. Jackson postulated that Los Angeles' ring ceremony earlier in the week distracted from his team's focus, and he wasn't pleased by either of the Lakers' last two practices.

Los Angeles also played its third straight game without forward Pau Gasol, who's growing frustrated with the slow pace of his recovery after straining his right hamstring three weeks ago.

The Lakers took control with a 22-3 run in the third quarter, and Bryant scored 19 points in the frame. Starting with a dunk by Bryant midway through, the Lakers got into their ideal offensive flow for the first time this season while holding Atlanta scoreless for more than five minutes.

The run was highlighted by a four-basket sequence that had the crowd on its feet.

After Bryant made a graceful behind-the-back pass to Ron Artest for a fast-break dunk, Odom threw an alley-oop pass to Bynum for another dunk. Artest then got loose for a breakaway dunk, and Odom capped it with a midcourt steal and a pass to Bynum for an uncontested jam that put Los Angeles up 90-70.

Bryant, Odom and Bynum all returned to the game after Atlanta trimmed a 24-point deficit to 14 midway through the fourth.

Jamal Crawford added 17 points and Mike Bibby had 15 for the Hawks, whose struggles against top opponents have been a focus of coach Mike Woodson's improvement plans this season. But the Hawks couldn't keep up with the Lakers' transition game, and they grew increasingly sloppy with each big play by Bryant and the Lakers in the third quarter.

Gasol, the Lakers' second-leading scorer and leading rebounder last year, will accompany the Lakers on their two-game road trip to Oklahoma City and Houston, but still might not be ready to play.

NOTES: Johnson scored 14 of the Hawks' first 17 points in the first eight minutes, and he added a four-point play on a foul from Bryant moments later.... Gasol missed just one regular-season game last season.... Courtside fans included Ryan Seacrest, David Beckham (about 2½ hours after the Los Angeles Galaxy's playoff game ended), the Dodgers' Matt Kemp and actor Andy Garcia.


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