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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports


Lakers maintain fierce form, beat Hawks for 8th straight win

Posted: 08 Mar 2011 06:48 PM PST

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) drives towards the basket against Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford in the first half of their NBA basketball game in Atlanta, Georgia March 8, 2011. — Reuters pic

ATLANTA, March 9 — Kobe Bryant became the sixth-highest point scorer in the NBA as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks 101-87 yesterday and recorded their eighth successive win.

Bryant made a free throw late in the first half to notch the 13th point he needed to move past Hall of Fame player Moses Malone and into sixth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list before he finished with 26 points and on 27,423 for his career.

The All-Star guard was aided by Andrew Bynum, who had another strong performance inside with 16 points and 16 rebounds, and Pau Gasol's 14 points and 11 rebounds, as the Lakers look to have rediscovered their top form and like the team that won the last two NBA titles.

"We're just better. We're locked in and everyone is a little moody right now, a little on edge and it's a good thing," Bryant told reporters.

Following a three-game losing streak just before the All-Star break, Los Angeles (46-19) have rediscovered top form and had some impressive performances including Sunday's 99-83 rout of the NBA-best San Antonio Spurs.

The Lakers opened up a 22-point lead over Atlanta in the third quarter then put the game away after the home team cut the deficit to eight.

Al Horford finished with 17 points and nine rebounds and Josh Smith added 16 points for the Hawks (37-27) who lost their third in a row. Atlanta managed just under 40 percent shooting from the field and trailed for most of the game.

The loss dropped the fifth-place Hawks three games behind the Orlando Magic for fourth in the Eastern Conference.

Los Angeles, however, matched their season-opening winning sequence when the team started the campaign 8-0 and the latest run has been aided by the inside play of Bynum who has collected 50 rebounds in his last three games.

"He's pursuing the ball," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of Bynum's post play.

"His hand strength and arm strength are dominant enough that even when challenged on rebounds he comes away with them." — Reuters  

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Spurs planning to make it White Hot Lane for Milan

Posted: 08 Mar 2011 04:58 PM PST

Tottenham Hotspur's coach Harry Redknapp answers questions from journalists during a news conference at San Siro stadium in Milan, February 14, 2011. — Reuters pic

LONDON, March 9 — Tottenham Hotspur have reached the knockout phase of the Champions League with a hugely refreshing commitment to attack and manager Harry Redknapp is not about to change tack.

Spurs take on AC Milan at White Hart Lane today with a place in the quarter-finals tantalisingly close as they lead 1-0 after a superb first leg display in the San Siro last month.

Peter Crouch's well-taken goal after a lightning break by Aaron Lennon capped a terrific performance which put the Londoners, making their Champions League debut this season, in the driving seat.

"We all want to continue in the competition, it's a fantastic competition and once you've played in it you want more," Redknapp told a news conference yesterday.

"It's wide open to win this year and we're still in it but we still have to beat Milan. They are a strong team but my message to the players will be, 'let's get after them and try to score again'.

"We're not going to change our style of play, try to sit back and defend that away goal, that wouldn't be right for us," added Redknapp.

"We do score goals and sometimes have difficulty stopping them but we pick an open team and we'll have a go tomorrow.

FANTASTIC GAME

"They are coming here to win, they have to, and we're taking the same approach, so it's set up to be a fantastic game."

Redknapp says attacking midfielder Rafael van der Vaart is fit after a calf injury and is again likely to link up with Crouch in a combination that has proved so fruitful this season.

The Spurs manager was less confident though about Gareth Bale who made his first appearance after six weeks out with a back injury when playing for 20 minutes against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.

"He trained this morning, his back was okay but he felt a little stiff in his legs so we will wait until tomorrow to see how he is," Redknapp said of the wide man who proved such a thorn in the side of Inter Milan in the group stage.

"It's touch and go. At the moment it would be doubtful whether he would be fit to start.

"He's desperate to play but won't if he's not 100 percent."

There could be a surprise return for Vedran Corluka who has made a faster-than-expected recovery from the ankle injury sustained in an horrific tackle by Mathieu Flamini in the first leg.

"It looked bad but he's recovered well and is available," Redknapp said of the Croatia full back. — Reuters 

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