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Lakers taste rare success in Detroit

THE Los Angeles Lakers won in Detroit for the first time in seven years on Thursday, Kobe Bryant scoring 30 points in a 92-77 victory over the injury-hit Pistons.

Los Angeles bagged the final 20 points of the third quarter to pull away from the Pistons, who were without injured trio Allen Iverson, Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace.

The Lakers also snapped a nine-game losing streak on Detroit's home court at the Palace on Auburn Hill, including three losses in the 2004 National Basketball Association finals. It was their first win at The Palace since January 8, 2002.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson, however, was not overly impressed by his team's performance given the extent of Detroit's injuries.

"They were shorthanded," Jackson told reporters. "We should've won."

In the two other NBA games on Thursday, the Bulls cooled the Heat 106-87; and the Trail Blazers eclipsed the Suns 129-109.

In Detroit, the Lakers trailed 39-42 at the half before the huge third quarter 20-0 run put the game away.

"When the playoffs come around, I don't think anybody wants to play this team," Bryant said of the Pistons. "It is never easy for us in this building."

Bryant also had eight rebounds and seven assists, while Derek Fisher chipped in with 15 points.

Pau Gasol added 12 points and 11 rebounds and Lamar Odom had 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Will Bynum led the Pistons with 25 points and 11 assists and Antonio McDyess added 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Playoff spot

Los Angeles (57-14) won its fourth game in a row while reeling Detroit (34-37) lost its third in a row. The Pistons are just three games clear of a playoff spot as the regular season schedule heads into its final three weeks.

"There's not much you can do playing against a team like the Lakers with the lineup we had available," Detroit coach Michael Curry said. "It's a psychological lift knowing they're (the injured players) going to return soon."

In Chicago, John Salmons scored 27 points as Chicago beat Miami for its sixth win in seven games and moved into a seventh-place tie with Detroit in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls took control in the third quarter, outscoring the Heat 32-14. Salmons scored 13 points in the period as the Bulls turned a two-point deficit into a 79-63 lead and sent the Heat to their fifth loss in seven games.

Miami star Dwyane Wade scored 31 points after hitting just five of 24 shots the previous night in a loss at Indiana.

In Portland, Oregon, LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 29 points and added 12 rebounds to help Portland end Phoenix's winning streak at six.

Brandon Roy added 26 points and nine rebounds for Portland. Shaquille O'Neal led the Suns with 20 points and seven rebounds. Phoenix, making a late push for the playoffs, is ninth in the Western Conference - 3 1/2 games behind Dallas.


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