National Basketball Association
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           === Gasol guides Bryant-less Lakers past Timberwolves ===
 Los  Angeles, CA ( - The Los Angeles Lakers are without Kobe
 Bryant again.
 Good thing it's something they're already used to.
 Pau Gasol netted nine of his 21 points during a critical run to close the game
 and the Lakers topped the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-91 on Friday night.
 Bryant  hyperextended his  left knee in the third quarter of Los Angeles' last
 game  Tuesday, but finished the tilt in the Lakers' 96-92 win over the Memphis
 Grizzlies.  Bryant was diagnosed with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau
 in his left knee and is likely out six weeks.
 Bryant made his season debut on Dec. 8 after missing nearly eight months while
 recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.
 The Lakers went 2-4 with Bryant in the lineup.
 Gasol added 13 rebounds and eight assists, while Nick Young netted a team-high
 25  points  off the bench for  Los Angeles, which  ended the contest on a 14-2
 "We've  got guys playing  well," Gasol said. "We're not done. There's a lot of
 season left."
 Xavier  Henry, who  started at point guard, tallied 21 points and four assists
 in  the triumph. Bryant was handling the point guard duties because Steve Nash
 (back), Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Steve Blake (elbow) are all shelved.
 Kevin  Love had  25 points and 13 rebounds, while Nikola Pekovic finished with
 22  points  and 13 boards  for the Timberwolves,  who have alternated wins and
 losses over their last six games.
 "It  was a poor game on our part," Minnesota head coach Rick Adelman admitted.
 "We didn't play well from the very start."
 After  Luc Mbah  a Moute drove in  for a layup to bring Minnesota within 90-89
 with 5:10 left, the Lakers sprinted to the finish with their huge flurry.
 Gasol  put  in the first seven  points of the  swing, which included a rare 3,
 before  Young  swished in a  right wing triple. Gasol  capped the surge with a
 jumper from the top of the key for a 104-91 Lakers margin with 1:17 left.
 Earlier, the Lakers led 35-26 after a quarter of play, but Minnesota outscored
 the hosts 27-16 in the second and took a 53-51 edge into the break.
 LA headed into the final frame with an 81-76 cushion.
                                   Game Notes
 Bryant  averaged 13.8  points, 6.3 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game over his
 six  games this year  ... Jodie Meeks had 17 points for LA ... The Lakers shot
 53.8 percent (42-of-78) from the floor.
 12/21 01:42:10 ET