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A STUBBORN STREAK WORKS NBA: AFTER SQUANDERING A BIG LEAD AND GETTING PUSHED INTO OT, LAKERS SNATCH VICTORY AWAY FROM HORNETS. LAKERS 115, N.O. 111.

Byline: Elliott Teaford elliott.teaford@dailybreeze.com Staff Writer

In the end, maybe they were too stubborn to lose.

Maybe they were too experienced with the game on the line.

Maybe they had too many weapons and too much depth.

Whatever it was, the Lakers had enough of it to hold off the New Orleans Hornets, 115-111, in overtime Friday night at Staples Center for their third consecutive victory after the All-Star break and their 10th win in their last 11 games.

Derek Fisher's 3-pointer with 14.6 seconds remaining sent the game to overtime, a big shot by a player who has made many of them in his career. He hadn't made much of anything before stepping behind the 3-point arc, however.

Fisher was only 2 for 8 before he passed the ball to teammate Pau Gasol, received a return pass and then hit nothing but net on the 3-pointer that tied the score at 98-all.

Just before that, Fisher drew a charge call on Chris Paul that resulted in a turnover to set up the Lakers' possession.

Fisher then made all four free throws he tried in OT to help the league-leading Lakers win again.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers, scoring 11 of his 39 points in overtime. Gasol added 20 points and 12 rebounds. Fisher and Luke Walton scored 14 apiece and Lamar Odom scored 12 points and grabbed a team-leading 17 rebounds.

Rasual Butler led New Orleans with 31 points and Paul had 21 points and 16 assists before fouling out with 1:32 remaining in the five-minute overtime period.

Butler and Paul teamed to lead the Hornets back from a 16-point second-half deficit.

No question, the Lakers' 45th victory in their 55th game was more of a grind than some of their earlier wins. They overcame lackluster shooting in the first half, found their game in the third quarter and struggled again in the fourth.

Asked if this was a good win, Lakers coach Phil Jackson thought for a moment.

"It gives us confidence that we can make mistakes and still come out of it with a win," he said. "I hope we learned some things that will help us along the way."

The Lakers led the Hornets, 45-41, by halftime, but it was difficult to figure out how or why. After all, they shot a meager 35.6 percent in the first half, falling in lockstep with the Hornets, who shot only 37 percent.

Bryant made 13 of 30 attempts by game's end, but was only 5for16 in the first half.

"You keep (throwing it against) the wall and eventually that (stuff) will stick," Jackson said.

When the laughter died down in his postgame press conference, Jackson indicated he was unhappy with the team's lack of patience against the Hornets.

"We just didn't distribute the ball well," he said. "I was upset with them because they weren't moving the ball from side to side."

By game's end, the Lakers shot 41.2 percent and the Hornets shot 45.7.

Instead of waiting patiently for quality shots, the Lakers took a quick look at the basket and hoisted one perimeter jump shot after another. That's not their game. That's the Hornets' game and the Lakers were not playing to their strengths in the first half.

After finishing second to the Lakers in the Western Conference standings last season, the Hornets (32-21) have slumped in 2008-09. Their game, so dependant on Paul's drives and passes to the perimeter for jump shots, has not been as successful.

New Orleans' lack of an inside presence was so glaring that the Hornets agreed to trade 7-footer Tyson Chandler to the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this week for Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox, getting two big guys for one.

However, Chandler failed the physical and the trade was rescinded. Chandler was not in the Hornets' lineup Friday because of an ankle injury.

New Orleans coach Byron Scott was so desperate for help in the middle that he turned to Sean Marks, a 6-foot-10 journeyman from California who is in his eighth pro season. Marks is averaging 3.2 points and 3.1 rebounds this season.

What's more, Marks accomplished little of note against the Lakers. He scored three points and pulled down three rebounds in 32 minutes.

Chandler, a former standout at Dominguez High in Compton, is averaging modest totals of 8.8 points and 8.1 rebounds this season.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 21, 2009
Words:740
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