Pau Gasol flourished in the role of starting center to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to their sixth straight win, a 99-92 triumph over the Washington Wizards on Sunday.
Gasol scored 28 points and had 12 rebounds after switching from his normal forward role following the loss of Andrew Bynum, who suffered an injury to his left Achilles’ tendon on Friday.
“We lose a little size and gain a little speed,” Gasol told reporters of playing without Bynum. “He’s a big body who has really been effective for us in rebounding and shot-blocking.”
The Lakers, however, have grown accustomed to playing without Bynum, who has missed more than 70 games in the previous two seasons due to injury.
Bynum will miss a week and then be re-evaluated, shifting responsibility to Gasol and Lamar Odom, who moved into the starting lineup and contributed 13 rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks.
Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his 24 points in the second quarter as Los Angeles (52-18) built a 26-point halftime lead and held off the struggling Wizards despite a disappointing finish.
With the victory, the Lakers were able to extend their lead to five games over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson, however, was more concerned with his team’s inconsistency.
“The way we’re playing we can’t seem to sustain an effort for 48 minutes,” Jackson said. “We didn’t play with the intensity you have to play with.”
For Washington (21-47) it was their 11th straight loss, two shy of a franchise record.
Reserve guard Nick Young had a season-high 22 points as the Wizards remain winless since Feb. 28.
CAVALIERS 104, PISTONS 79
J.J. Hickson and Anthony Parker combined for 20 points in the decisive third quarter as Cleveland beat Detroit to give the Cavaliers their first season sweep of the Pistons in 30 years.
Cleveland held a double-digit lead most of the game, although the Pistons cut it to 55-47 on a basket by Jonas Jerebko with 10 minutes left in the third quarter. Hickson and Parker took charge, combining to score 16 of Cleveland’s next 19 points while Detroit went more than five minutes without a field goal.
Hickson finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, Parker had 11 points and LeBron James had 15 points and seven assists while sitting out the fourth quarter.
Cleveland has won 10 straight against Detroit, including last season’s first-round sweep in the playoffs. Cleveland hadn’t swept Detroit during a regular season since going 6-0 against the Pistons during the 1979-80 season.
Jason Maxiell had 16 points for Detroit and Charlie Villanueva had 11 off the bench.
SUNS 93, TRAIL BLAZERS 87
At Phoenix, Jared Dudley scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, and Grant Hill hit two key baskets in Phoenix’s fourth straight win.
The loss ended Portland’s five-game winning streak and was only the Trail Blazers’ second defeat in nine games. It left them in eighth place in the Western Conference.
Amar’e Stoudemire led the Suns with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Steve Nash had 17 points and eight assists, Jason Richardson scored 16 points, and Hill finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Brandon Roy led Portland with 23 points.
In other games it was:
• Hawks 119, Spurs 114, OT
• Pacers 121, Thunder 101
• Kings 102, Clippers 89
• Rockets 116, Knicks 112
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