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Bryant, Lakers surge past Knicks in fourth quarter

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers in action against the New York Knicks. (January 22, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

It was a total "A List" night at Madison Square Garden on Friday.

Kobe Bryant and the defending champion Lakers were in town. Former President Bill Clinton addressed the crowd and TV audience at halftime about Haiti relief efforts. Several of the Cinderella Jets were on hand the night before they head to Indianapolis for Sunday's AFC Championship Game.

The Knicks took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter and the place was rocking. Bryant was having an off night in his first trip to the Garden since he had a building-record 61 points last Feb. 2.

But the Lakers pulled away in the fourth as Bryant got hot and the Knicks went cold. Bryant scored 13 of his 27 in the quarter and the Lakers outscored the Knicks 31-20 for a 115-105 victory.

"I think we played really, really, really well," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Then we lost our rhythm a little bit. You have to give them credit. They were hitting shots."

Bryant, quiet for most of the game, shot just 8-for-24. He entered the game averaging 28.4 points, fourth in the league.

"He's done that time after time," Larry Hughes said of Bryant's fourth-quarter contribution. "That's what he does."

Pau Gasol added 20 points and Andrew Bynum had 19 for the Lakers. Lamar Odom grabbed 14 rebounds.

David Lee had a season-high 31 points along with 17 rebounds, Wilson Chandler scored a season-high 28 and Danilo Gallinari had 20. But no other Knick was in double figures, although rookie Jordan Hill had eight points and seven rebounds in 10:47.

"We played decent as a group,'' Lee said, "but they just had more firepower. It's disappointing we couldn't get a victory out of it."

The Knicks were without Nate Robinson in the second half after he suffered a hamstring injury. Robinson, who scored three points in 10 minutes, is day-to-day. "It just felt weird," he said. "So I knew I couldn't go."

The Knicks, who fell to 17-25 in the first game of the second half of their schedule, next host Dallas on Sunday. So it doesn't get much easier.

Clinton, during halftime, spoke of the efforts of Knicks forward Gallinari and other Wasserman Media Group clients. The NBA players are donating $1,000 per point to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and pledging a minimum of $500,000.

Bryant, meanwhile, came in with a broken finger and a full head of cranky after the Lakers' 93-87 loss to LeBron James and the Cavaliers on Thursday. After that game, he called out his team for lacking toughness.

The Lakers have the NBA's best record at 33-10 but are just 10-7 away from home.

Against the Knicks, the Lakers led 36-30 after one quarter and the score was tied at 63 at halftime. Bryant was 2-for-8 in the half for five points. Bynum had 17 to Lee's 16.

The Knicks took an 85-84 lead into the fourth quarter as Bryant was blocked by Hughes on the third quarter's last shot.

"At the end of the day, we still lost," Hughes said. "There's no moral victories."

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