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Gasol guides Bryant-less Lakers past Timberwolves
Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Lakers are without Kobe Bryant again.
Good thing it's something they're already used to.
Pau Gasol netted nine of his 21 points during a critical run to close the game and the Lakers topped the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-91 on Friday night.
Bryant hyperextended his left knee in the third quarter of Los Angeles' last game Tuesday, but finished the tilt in the Lakers' 96-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Bryant was diagnosed with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee and is likely out six weeks.
Bryant made his season debut on Dec. 8 after missing nearly eight months while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.
The Lakers went 2-4 with Bryant in the lineup.
Gasol added 13 rebounds and eight assists, while Nick Young netted a team-high 25 points off the bench for Los Angeles, which ended the contest on a 14-2 run.
"We've got guys playing well," Gasol said. "We're not done. There's a lot of season left."
Xavier Henry, who started at point guard, tallied 21 points and four assists in the triumph. Bryant was handling the point guard duties because Steve Nash (back), Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Steve Blake (elbow) are all shelved.
Kevin Love had 25 points and 13 rebounds, while Nikola Pekovic finished with 22 points and 13 boards for the Timberwolves, who have alternated wins and losses over their last six games.
"It was a poor game on our part," Minnesota head coach Rick Adelman admitted. "We didn't play well from the very start."
After Luc Mbah a Moute drove in for a layup to bring Minnesota within 90-89 with 5:10 left, the Lakers sprinted to the finish with their huge flurry.
Gasol put in the first seven points of the swing, which included a rare 3, before Young swished in a right wing triple. Gasol capped the surge with a jumper from the top of the key for a 104-91 Lakers margin with 1:17 left.
Earlier, the Lakers led 35-26 after a quarter of play, but Minnesota outscored the hosts 27-16 in the second and took a 53-51 edge into the break.
LA headed into the final frame with an 81-76 cushion.
Bryant averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game over his six games this year ... Jodie Meeks had 17 points for LA ... The Lakers shot 53.8 percent (42-of-78) from the floor.
12/21 01:42:10 ET