LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, Andrew Bynum added 18 points and seven rebounds before getting ejected in the fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers mixed it up with the New York Knicks in their fourth straight victory, 109-87 Sunday night.
Pau Gasol had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, who thoroughly dominated undersized New York in the paint and on defense during their seventh straight win over the Knicks.
The second half got testy, with numerous hard fouls and arguments highlighted by Ron Artest clotheslining New York’s Amare Stoudemire on a drive to the hoop, earning a flagrant foul.
Stoudemire scored 18 of his 23 points after halftime for the Knicks, whose three-game winning streak ended with a poor shooting performance.
Wilson Chandler scored 19 points, while Landry Fields and Raymond Felton added 12 points apiece for New York, which had beaten nine straight Western Conference opponents, even scoring 128 points in an impressive win over NBA-leading San Antonio five days ago.
The Knicks didn’t click all night, with the NBA’s highest-scoring team making just 36 percent of its shots. Stoudemire didn’t get his first field goal until midway through the second quarter, and he had just five points on 1-for-10 shooting at halftime.
New York hasn’t beaten Los Angeles since February 2007, but the cross-country rivals always have an intense atmosphere at their two annual meetings. Although the Lakers took a 16-point lead in the third quarter and coasted to a fairly easy victory, two near-fights put an edge on this game even before Bynum’s ejection.
Artest was involved in both confrontations, playing with an edge he has shown only rarely during a disappointing season.
He earned a technical foul in the first quarter for a scuffle with Shawne Williams, briefly putting his hand on Williams’ throat barely pulling it away. Artest then delivered a hard foul on Stoudemire late in the third quarter, clotheslining the Knicks’ star big man — who got up angry before teammates separated them.
Bynum then was tossed for just the second time in his career after a foul called against him by referee Leon Wood while defending Stoudemire. Bynum stepped into Wood’s path with his arms outstretched while the official walked toward the scorers’ table, earning the first technical foul — and when Bynum kept arguing, Wood tossed him.
Bryant exchanged apparently angry words with Stoudemire moments later when Stoudemire interrupted Bryant’s conversation with Wood, although the two players are friends.
The Lakers played their first game of the season without backup forward Matt Barnes, who tore cartilage in his right knee during Friday night’s win over New Orleans. Barnes is likely to have surgery Tuesday, and both Bryant and Artest will get more minutes in his absence.
Artest is having perhaps his worst professional season statistically, averaging career lows of 7.7 points and 2.9 rebounds while giving up playing time to Barnes.
NOTES: The teams meet again at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 11. … New York’s Bill Walker missed three consecutive free throws in the second quarter after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt. … Fans near courtside included Lindsay Lohan, Adam Sandler, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee in full Knicks regalia, Chris Pine, Matthew Morrison, will.i.am, Simon Baker, Dax Shepard, Tom Arnold, Robert Wuhl, Ciara, Dr. Dre and Knicks great Bill Bradley.