Lakers halt Bulls with Dwight Howard’s 16 points, 21 boards
Los Angeles, CA, United States (4E Sports) – Dwight Howard tallied 16 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the Chicago Bulls 90-81.
Kobe Bryant added 19 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds.
The Lakers also got double figure production from Steve Nash who netted 16, Metta World Peace who had 12 points, Earl Clark who added 11 points and Jodie Meeks who scored 10.
The win, its third straight and eight of 10 since the All-Star break, improved the Lakers to 33-31, and moved LA into the No. 8 and last playoff spot in the Western Conference. They are one-half game ahead of Utah for the final playoff spot.
This is the first time they’ve been two games over .500 all season.
“I think I am getting a little bit better,” said Howard, who shot 8 out of 14 in the filed but was 0 for 5 from the free throw line. “I’m just going to keep working on my conditioning, get my timing back and just keep going hard.”
Bryant was scoreless in the first quarter and had just six points at halftime, but the Lakers led almost throughout, only briefly falling behind by two points in the second quarter. They regained the lead shortly thereafter on a 3-pointer by Jodie Meeks, and were ahead 44-40 at the half.
Nash keyed a 21-7 third-quarter spurt, scoring 10 of his 16 points, that put the Lakers up by as many as 18 points.
The Lakers finished the third quarter with a 73-61 lead.
The Bulls got within eight points on a basket by Boozer with 8:02 left, but got no closer the rest of the way.
“I thought Howard in particular in the first half set the tone,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He just dominated the paint with shot-blocking, rebounding, physicality. That set the tone for the game and they dominated us on the boards from the start. Kobe came out as a playmaker so they played well.”
Nate Robinson led the Bulls with 19 points, Joakim Noah had 18 points and 17 rebounds and Carlos Boozer had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago.