Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) drives on Orlando Magic guard Jason Richardson, left, in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 14, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas) By Gus Ruelas
Orlando Magic guard Jameer Nelson, left, fouls Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher, right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 14, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas) By Gus Ruelas
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard reacts after being called for a foul in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Monday, March 14, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas) By Gus Ruelas
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Pau Gasol scored 23 points, Kobe Bryant added 16 while playing on a sprained left ankle, and the Los Angeles Lakers roared away in the second half for their 10th win in 11 games, 97-84 over the Orlando Magic on Monday night.
Andrew Bynum had 10 points, a career high-tying 18 rebounds and four blocks as the two-time defending NBA champions opened a seven-game homestand with another impressive effort since the All-Star break.
The Lakers (48-20) also drew virtually even with the Dallas Mavericks (47-19) for second place in the Western Conference standings.
Dwight Howard had 22 points, 15 rebounds and nine turnovers -- four more than the entire Lakers squad -- for the Magic, who shot poorly in the second half of this 2009 NBA finals rematch.
After the Magic led throughout the first half, the Lakers pushed ahead early in the third quarter, but didn't pull away until a lineup stacked with reserves made an 18-5 run spanning the final two quarters. Los Angeles went ahead 85-69 on Lamar Odom's 3-pointer with 7:14 to play, and the Magic never got closer than 11 points after that.
Ryan Anderson and Jameer Nelson scored 13 points apiece for the Magic. Coach Stan Van Gundy left his starters in the blowout until the final buzzer of Orlando's fourth stop on a five-game road trip ending in Milwaukee.
Bryant decided to play despite seriously rolling his ankle during the third quarter of Saturday's win at Dallas. The All-Star game MVP has played through a litany of nagging injuries over the past three seasons -- and thanks to the Los Angeles reserves' rally, Bryant had to play just 30 minutes.
Odom also scored 16 points, and Derek Fisher had 15 for the Lakers, who have the next three days off before lowly Minnesota visits on Friday.
The Lakers lost several significant games and endured several embarrassing upsets during the first half of the season, but they've been totally focused ever since Staples Center hosted the All-Star weekend.
Los Angeles already had beaten San Antonio, Dallas, Atlanta (twice) and Oklahoma City since the break before this stirring second-half effort against the talented Magic, who appear entrenched in fourth place in the East.
Orlando put Anderson in Brandon Bass' usual spot in the starting lineup, and the former California star immediately hit two 3-pointers. The Magic might have taken a huge first-quarter lead if not for Bynum, who grabbed 11 rebounds, scored six points and made three monster blocks during a dominant stretch down low.
Bynum's improved play has been a major reason for Los Angeles' surge after the All-Star break. The 23-year-old with creaky knees still isn't in perfect health after missing the start of the season, but he soundly outplayed Howard early.
Bynum got more cheers than Bryant when both left the game in the final minutes.
NOTES: Van Gundy said the Magic miss the energy and presence of Matt Barnes, who signed with the Lakers last summer after one season with Orlando. The journeyman forward had five points and three rebounds in 17 minutes against the Magic in his fifth game back from a 26-game absence for surgery on cartilage in his right knee. ... Orlando G J.J. Redick missed his third straight game with a lower abdominal strain. ... Fans near courtside included Robert Downey Jr., Tom Arnold and Vanessa Hudgens.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)