No Kobe? No sweat for Lakers

SALT LAKE CITY - Pau Gasol had 22 points and 19 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers won their third straight without Kobe Bryant, beating Utah, 96-81, on Wednesday night and ending the Jazz's nine-game winning streak.

Bryant rested his sore left ankle, and the Lakers fared just fine without their superstar, getting 25 points and 11 rebounds from Lamar Odom, and 18 points from Jordan Farmar. Gasol added five blocked shots as he and Odom shut down the lane and forced the Jazz outside.

The Lakers broke open the game with a 12-0 run at the end of the first quarter and held a double-figures lead from early in the second period through the end.

Deron Williams had 11 points, 10 assists and was one rebound short of a triple-double for Utah.

Carlos Boozer had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko finished with 17 points, four blocks and five rebounds for the Jazz, which lost for the first time since Jan. 17.

Los Angeles enters the All-Star break with the best record in the Western Conference at 41-13 despite not having Bryant for the last three games.

L.A. didn’t appear to need him Wednesday, never letting the Jazz take a lead and flustering them into outside shots that wouldn’t fall. Utah also hurt itself by going 13-for-25 at the free-throw line.

Utah made a short-lived run early in the fourth quarter, but could only get within 12 points before the Lakers ended their only cold stretch of the night.

The Lakers led by 19 at the end of the third and increased the lead to 20 before the fourth even began when Ronnie Price was called for a technical, and Sasha Vujacic made the free throw to put the Lakers up 77-57.

The Jazz tightened up defensively and used a 10-2 run to get back in it, holding the Lakers without a field goal until Farmar’s 3-pointer with 6:50 remaining put Los Angeles up 82-67.

Farmar’s shot got the Lakers rolling on a 9-2 run that sealed it.