Wednesday , Mar , 31 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Los Angeles Lakers Team Report – March 31

=== Los Angeles Lakers Team Report – March 31 ===

(Sports Network) – The Lakers continued their dominant recent play Tuesday
night, as they posted a 107-88 thumping of the New Orleans Hornets at the
Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant scored 23 points and handed out six assists to pace the Lakers to
the victory. Gary Payton added 20 points and six helpers for the Lakers, who
have ripped off nine straight wins and won 21 of their last 26 contests

The Lakers have fought their way into the third spot in the West — just 1 1/2
games behind conference and Pacific leader Sacramento.

Los Angeles has also won nine in a row at home and 11-of-12. For the season,
the Lakers are an impressive 31-5 at the Staples Center.

LA took a 60-53 advantage into the intermission and then broke the game open
near the end of the third with eight unanswered points. Karl Malone capped off
the spurt with a pair from the stripe to push the LA margin to 84-64 with 55
seconds left in the third.

The Lakers led by as many as 22 in this one and New Orleans trailed by double-
digits the entire fourth quarter.

The Lakers have won nine of 10 and 11 of 14 meetings between these clubs. The
Hornets have lost six of their last eight road contests against the Lakers.

Los Angeles, which is 6-0 on its current seven-game homestand, will finish it
up Thursday against the Houston Rockets Thursday night. The Lakers have five
of their final eight games at the Staples Center.