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Lakers down Bulls

Lakers down Bulls

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LOS ANGELES - Lakers coach Phil Jackson usually delegates the responsibility of watching tape of his team's next opponent to his assistants. This time, with the Chicago Bulls coming to town, he did it himself. Call it a pang of nostalgia.

Jackson, who coached the Bulls to six NBA titles and the Lakers to three, improved his record 9-4 against Chicago as Lamar Odom's 23 points and 10 rebounds carried Los Angeles to an 82-72 victory on Sunday night.

"It's been nine years since I coached the Bulls," Jackson said. "And because it gets so familiar, I decided this would be the team I'd scout - relieve my crack staff and take it on myself this time. It brought on a familiarity of the Chicago Bulls to me."

Andrew Bynum added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers before fouling out. Kobe Bryant scored 18 points, matching his lowest total in eight games since returning from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in July.

Last season's NBA scoring champ shot 5-for-14 after getting 31 points in Friday's 107-100 win against Toronto, but the Lakers still managed to win their third in a row and hand Chicago its fourth straight loss.

"Most people around the league would say there isn't another team that plays with the same intensity," Jackson said of the Bulls. "You know they're driven. They'll push you to the extreme and they'll wear you out because they work so hard. They're a hard-achieving team, and sometimes there's more froth than substance - sort of like a latte. There's not much there. I didn't mean that to be an insult, but they have trouble scoring."

The only one who didn't was Andres Nocioni, who had a career-high 30 points. The third-year forward, who missed his first nine shots in Friday's 110-83 loss at San Antonio and came in with a 10.7 scoring average, made five of his first seven against the Lakers and finished 11-for-21 overall.

"The last couple of games I really played bad - with turnovers and missing shots," Nocioni said. "When I came here tonight, I just thought about my shot - and playing hard."

Nocioni kept the Bulls close in the nip-and-tuck affair with 11 third quarter points. The Lakers took a 62-59 lead into the fourth before Nocioni tied the score with one of his six 3-pointers - the only field goal by Chicago in the first 8:03 of the final period.

"He carried us offensively - especially early in the game," coach Scott Skiles said. "When we have a guy that goes off scoring like that, it causes our other guys to spectate a little bit. We weren't able to really get anyone else to pitch in."

Spurs 108, Kings 99

Tim Duncan scored a season-high 35 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and the Spurs improved their franchise-best road start to 5-0 with a victory over the Kings at Sacramento, Calif.

The first meeting between the teams since the Spurs beat the Kings in the sixth game of their first-round playoff series in May was a physical game that featured three players leave for the locker room to get stitches.

Neither team led by more than three during a 9:09 stretch that ended when Nocioni got a technical foul from referee Dan Crawford with 8:07 to play and Odom converted the free throw for a 66-62 lead.

Odom remained at the foul line and made one of two before teammate Vladimir Radmanovic shook off the discomfort in his sore right hand and hit a 12-footer for his only points of the game.

"He's been struggling," Jackson said of Radmanovic. "His hand is an issue that's going to be around for a while. He's lost some strength in his hand and it's going to be a game-to-game, practice-to-practice thing. But, all that aside, I told him that players figure out how to contribute."

Los Angeles used a 12-1 run to open up a 74-63 lead with 4:47 remaining. Nocione ended Chicago's shooting drought with an eight-footer and Ben Gordon hit a 3-pointer to narrow the gap to 74-70 with 3:12 left. But that was as close as the Bulls got, as the Lakers fueled a game-ending 8-2 spurt with free throws.

Lakers rookie Jordan Farmar left the game with 2:31 remaining in the half, after spraining his right ankle trying to dribble around Gordon.


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