So far this season, Kobe Bryant and his Lakers teammates are still taking the bows.
Bryant had a relatively quiet game with 29 points, and the Lakers beat the Clippers 97-88 Saturday night to defeat their arena co-tenants for the second time in less than two weeks.
He still downplayed down the rivalry between the teams, whose locker rooms are some 30 feet apart.
"This is such a long season and we enjoy the matchups, as I'm sure they do. But that's where it stays. My theory on that is rivalries are made in the playoffs, not in the regular season," said Bryant, who scored 40 points in their earlier meeting.
"In the playoffs, that's when things kind of heat up. But this is something that the city wants to talk about, and as players we can't help but respond to that type of challenge."
"It was disappointing; we had a lot of lapses tonight," Brand said. "Late in the game we have to trust each other and be a team.
"When we made our run (to the second round of the playoffs) last year, that is what made us so deadly. When we shared the ball, we let the team win games instead of individuals."
Bryant was coming off a 52-point performance in a victory over Utah on Thursday night, when he went 19-of-26 in a rout of the Jazz.
He was 11-of-23 in the rematch against the Clippers, who shot 44 percent from the floor to the Lakers' 50 percent.
The Lakers lead the Pacific Division with an 11-5 mark. The Clippers are last at 7-8.
"I don't know the reason for our success compared to theirs," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "They're perhaps not shooting the ball as well. They've had some injuries that have changed their timing and coordination skills, for instance."
The Lakers were up 69-64 heading into the fourth quarter, with an Andrew Bynum layup with 17 seconds left giving them their five-point edge.
The Clippers, down 49-41 early in the third period, took the lead at 60-59 on Mobley's 3-pointer with 3:33 left in the quarter, but Bryant hit a running jumper shortly afterward to put the Lakers back in front.
They stayed there.
The Clippers were the home team, so the floor with their logo was installed over the ice at the arena, where the NHL's Anaheim Ducks had beaten the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 a few hours earlier.
Livingston finished with two blocks and eight points.
|Kobe Bryant's Lakers beat the slumping Clips for the second time in less than two weeks. (Getty Images)|
|L.A. Lakers (11-5) «||20||27||22||28||97|
|L.A. Clippers (7-8)||22||17||25||24||88|
|LAL:K. Bryant 29 Pts
LAL:L. Odom 8 Reb
LAL:S. Parker 4 Ast
|LAC:C. Mobley 17 Pts
LAC:C. Kaman 12 Reb
LAC:S. Cassell 4 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|Los Angeles||Los Angeles|
|K. Bryant, SG||40||11-23||7-8||5||3||3||29|
|K. Brown, C||34||3-5||1-6||8||1||3||7|
|S. Parker, PG||34||5-10||0-2||6||4||2||11|
|L. Odom, SF||31||8-13||0-1||8||2||6||18|
|L. Walton, SF||31||1-6||2-2||5||2||0||5|
|M. Evans, SG||16||2-5||0-0||0||1||2||4|
|J. Farmar, PG||13||2-2||0-0||1||1||2||4|
|A. Bynum, C||12||2-2||0-0||1||2||3||4|
|V. Radmanovic, PF||11||4-7||0-0||3||0||1||10|
|S. Vujacic, PG||9||1-4||0-0||0||1||1||3|
|R. Turiaf, PF||8||1-3||0-0||0||0||0||2|
|A. McKie, SG||Did Not Play|
|S. Williams, PG||Did Not Play|
|C. Mihm, C||Did Not Play|
|B. Cook, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|E. Brand, PF||40||7-15||3-6||8||3||4||17|
|C. Mobley, SG||39||7-11||1-2||1||0||3||17|
|S. Cassell, PG||34||7-16||2-2||5||4||4||16|
|Q. Ross, SF||21||2-5||0-0||2||1||3||4|
|A. Williams, C||9||0-1||0-0||4||1||2||0|
|S. Livingston, PG||27||2-6||4-4||1||2||1||8|
|C. Kaman, C||27||3-8||2-2||12||2||2||8|
|C. Maggette, SG||25||5-9||5-5||8||1||5||15|
|T. Thomas, SF||14||1-7||1-2||3||1||2||3|
|J. Singleton, PF||4||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|Z. Rebraca, C||Did Not Play|
|D. Ewing, PG||Did Not Play|
|Y. Korolev, SF||Did Not Play|
|P. Davis, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|