NBA: Bryant scores 31, leads Lakers past Pacers 109-94 |

NBA: Bryant scores 31, leads Lakers past Pacers 109-94

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Kobe Bryant scored 25 of his 31 points in the second half to help the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers 109-94 on Wednesday night.

Pau Gasol scored 29 points and Lamar Odom had 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Lakers, who never trailed.

The Lakers shot 51 percent against the Pacers, who entered with the NBA’s No. 2 field-goal percentage defense. Los Angeles outrebounded Indiana 51-29 to win for the sixth time in seven games.

Darren Collison scored 17 points and Brandon Rush added 16 for Indiana. The Pacers got off to a promising start this season, but have lost three straight. Indiana was going for its first season sweep of the Lakers since 1992 after winning 95-92 on Nov. 28 in Los Angeles.

Gasol went 5 for 15 with five turnovers and five fouls in the previous meeting, but he set the tone in this one. Los Angeles made seven of its first eight shots and ran out to a 15-4 lead. The Lakers extended that advantage to 27-10 before Bryant even attempted a shot. They shot 73.7 percent in their best quarter of the season to lead 36-22 at the end of the period.

Bryant, content to play decoy, had one field goal and three assists in the quarter. Gasol scored 14 points in the first 12 minutes.

The Lakers led 59-37 at halftime. They outrebounded the Pacers 27-10 in the first half and shot 61 percent. Bryant took just four shots in the first half, but had six assists without a turnover.

Bryant got rolling early in the third quarter, when he drained a 3-pointer from the right corner while fading out of bounds with Danny Granger in his face. Bryant made another 3 a few minutes later and held his arm in the air as the ball went through the net. He scored 17 points in the quarter.

Brandon Rush hit back-to-back 3s to get Pacers fans excited late in the third, but Shannon Brown’s coast-to-coast drive and layup quieted the crowd and gave the Lakers an 87-69 lead at the end of the period.

Most of the sellout crowd stayed until the end, even though the home team trailed by double digits the entire fourth quarter. Bryant, ever the crowd pleaser, drained consecutive 3s midway through the fourth, and some fans even chanted “Kobe! Kobe!”

NOTES: Lakers F Ron Artest got a mixed reaction during pregame introductions. While playing for the Pacers, Artest was suspended for 73 games and the playoffs after fighting with Detroit Pistons fans in 2004. He then requested a trade the next season. … Indiana’s first offensive rebound came with 1:36 left in the first half. … Cincinnati Bengals receiver Terrell Owens was in the crowd.