Bryant shines as Lakers beat Hornets


Kobe Bryant scored 30 points Friday to lead two-time defending NBA champions Los Angeles to a 100-86 victory over New Orleans in their Western Conference first-round playoff series. The win gave the Lakers a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, which continues with game four in New Orleans on Sunday.
Pau Gasol broke out of his playoff slump with 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds from Andrew Bynum and 13 points from Lamar Odom. Chris Paul had 22 points and eight assists for New Orleans, who managed to keep it close for much of the game but never really threatened after the Lakers took an early lead. Bryant, who was held to 11 points in the Lakers’ game-two victory on Wednesday, showed early that he was upping his intensity, knocking an attempted shot by Carl Landry out of bounds and then driving into the lane himself for a one-handed dunk. Bryant scored 15 points in the first quarter. It took Gasol longer to warm up. The Spaniard, who had scored just eight points in each of the first two games, had only four points in the first half but hit a key three-pointer early in the fourth that gave the Lakers a 78-70 lead.