Lakers run past rival Clippers

LOS ANGELES — Moments after the final buzzer sounded on the Los Angeles Lakers' latest extravaganza of hard fouls, trash-talk and outright wrestling matches with the Los Angeles Clippers, Pau Gasol might have topped it all when he patted Chris Paul on the head.

Anybody who still believes the Staples Center's co-tenants don't have a rivalry should get his own head checked.

The Lakers' 96-91 victory Wednesday night is only going to heat up the simmering campaign for city supremacy.

Kobe Bryant scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, and Gasol had 23 points and 10 rebounds as the Lakers rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit for their first win this season in the cross-hallway rivalry. The game featured plenty of sharp play, including several moments of brilliance from Bryant and Blake Griffin, but also six technical fouls, plenty of extracurricular talk, and the ejection of the Lakers' Josh McRoberts for scrapping with Reggie Evans.

That's all before Gasol's postgame gesture prompted a furious response from Paul, who had four points and 12 assists for the Clippers in his return from a five-game absence because of a strained left hamstring.

"He touched the top of my head, and I didn't like that," said Paul, who nearly landed with the Lakers last month before the NBA squelched the deal. "You know what I mean. I don't know if Pau's got kids, but don't touch my head like I'm one of your kids. I don't know what his intentions were, like, 'I'll treat him like little Chris.' I don't know if he's got kids, but I'm not one of them."

Gasol, who has no kids, insisted he was misunderstood.

"I'm sorry he felt that way," the Spanish 7-footer said. "I do that all the time with my teammates. Nothing mean about it."

When asked what Paul yelled at him after the game, Gasol called it "just trash."

Andrew Bynum scored 19 points as the Lakers snapped their three-game skid and finally answered the Clippers, who beat the Lakers twice in the preseason and again earlier this month, staking an early claim to L.A. superiority with their revamped lineup. The Lakers aren't ready to cede the city just yet — in fact, they were willing to fight for it.

"Everybody played with the right attitude, and guys did what they do best," Bryant said. "They had the right temperament. Everybody did what we do best."

Bryant put the Lakers in front with six points during an 11-4 run capped by Metta World Peace's 3-pointer with 3:30 to play. The Lakers nursed the lead into the final minute, when Bynum made a layup and blocked DeAndre Jordan's shot in the paint on consecutive possessions, essentially sealing the Lakers' ninth straight "home" victory in the rivalry.

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