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Kobe's 38 Help Lakers End Slide At 6

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AP
Kobe Bryant had 38 points and nine assists while the Los Angeles Lakers routed the hapless Boston Celtics 122-96 to end a six-game losing streak _ the longest of Phil Jackson's 16-year coaching career.

Reserve forward Gerald Green scored 21 points for the Celtics. Boston has lost 28 of 31 and 11 straight on the road, two shy of the club record set in 1978-79, when the team dropped its final 13 games of the season under Dave Cowens.

Bryant came within two points of his fourth consecutive 40-point game against the Celtics before the game got out of hand. Last season's scoring champ had 22 in the first quarter on 9-for-12 shooting _ including 4-for-5 from 3-point range as the Lakers built a 65-54 halftime lead. The All-Star MVP went to the bench for good with 1:24 left in the third quarter and Los Angeles ahead 94-71.

Paul Pierce played in his fifth game after missing 24 games because of a stress reaction in his left foot, scoring 15 points and sitting out the fourth quarter. The frustrated Pierce picked up his fourth foul with 5:52 left in the third quarter on an alley-oop dunk by Maurice Evans, and the three-point play gave the Lakers a commanding 86-62 lead.

The Celtics completed their schedule against Pacific Division teams with a combined 0-10 record against the Lakers, Clippers, Suns, Warriors and Kings. The Lakers shot 54.2 percent from the field, handing the Celtics their most lopsided loss this season and improving to 13-0 when shooting over 50 percent.

Bryant had six assists in the first half, including a no-look, behind-the-back pass to Smush Parker for a fast-break layup that gave Los Angeles a 56-51 lead with 2:22 left in the half. The Celtics, who committed a season-low eight turnovers against the Lakers in a 111-98 loss on Jan. 31 at Boston, had 10 by halftime in the rematch and finished with 18.

A pregame moment of silence was observed for former Celtics great Dennis Johnson, who died of a heart attack on Thursday at age 52 and will be buried on March 2 in Los Angeles.

Johnson, who helped Boston win two championships _ one of them against the Lakers in 1984 _ was coach of the Celtics' Development League team in Austin, Texas, when he was stricken following a practice session. The Compton, Calif. native also won a title with Seattle in 1979, when he was the NBA finals MVP.

"It was heart-rendering to hear about it. It really hurt," Lakers Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said Friday. "He was a great player. He had the game all thought out. He knew how to execute and he knew how to compete. So many players have great skills but don't understand the game. His understanding of the game was encyclopedic, and he had the will and heart of a winner."

Notes:@ Scottie Pippen, who helped Jackson win six NBA titles in Chicago, said during the All-Star break that he wanted to come out of retirement _ and his former coach is willing to give him a look. "I anticipate that I will talk to Scottie at some point," Jackson said. "We have to entertain the possibility because we're a little bit short at forward. And a guy with that kind of experience _ even with the rapport he has with this team having been at our training camp last year _ it makes sense." ... Pierce needs 35 points to become the seventh player to score at least 15,000 in a Celtics uniform. All of the other six are in the Hall of Fame and have had their numbers retired by the club.