The Los Angeles Lakers routed the Chicago Bulls, 90-81, at home to improve to 33-31. It marks the first time this season they have been two games over .500. The Lakers also moved a half-game ahead of the Utah Jazz and into sole possession of the No. 8 playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Dwight Howard had 16 points and 21 rebounds; Kobe Bryant finished 19 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds; and Steve Nash chipped in 16 points. They led by as many as 18 points in the third period.
"We're very focused," Bryant said. "We know what we have to do and what lies ahead. Everybody's locked in."
"I think I am getting a little bit better," said Howard, who was 0 for 5 from the free throw line. ''I'm just going to keep working on my conditioning, get my timing back and just keep going hard.''
The Lakers, who have won eight of 10 since the All-Star break, led by four points at halftime. But point guard Steve Nash keyed a 21-7 third-quarter spurt that put the Lakers up by as many as 18 points. Nash scored 10 of his 16 points in the third quarter.