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Playmaker Kobe leads Lakers past late-rallying Hornets 111-106 for their 3rd straight win


New Orleans Hornets forward Jason Smith, center, puts up a shot as Los Angeles Lakers forwards Pau Gasol, left, of Spain, and Earl Clark defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Dwight Howard scored 24 points, Kobe Bryant had 14 points and 11 assists in another pass-first performance, and the Los Angeles Lakers hung on to beat the New Orleans Hornets 111-106 Tuesday night for their first three-game winning streak in five weeks.

Earl Clark had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, whose 18-point lead with 5 1/2 minutes to play dwindled to 102-101 with 2 minutes left before Clark and Steve Nash hit big shots to clinch Los Angeles' ninth straight win over New Orleans.

Eric Gordon scored 18 of his 25 points in the first half for the Hornets, who were all but finished before making a 16-2 run in an electric 2 1/2-minute stretch. New Orleans got within one point on Greivis Vasquez's running jumper, but Clark hit an inside layup and Nash buried a 3-pointer with 1:21 to play.


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