LOS ANGELES There are wins and then there are those that just feel sweeter, like the Sixers' 103-99 victory over the Lakers.The Sixers entered Tuesday night having dropped two straight on a challenging west coast swing. The Lakers' record said they were a .500 team, but they are a team that has Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, and there is something about beating the Lakers that just resonates, especially if you are a Los Angeles native wearing the oppositions jersey.This feels awesome, feels better just to get the win. This is actually my first win against the Lakers, Jrue Holiday said on the heels of a 26-point, 10-assist performance. They had all their star power out there and we came out and really played hard and played together. This is definitely good, coming off two losses.Holiday was brilliant from the jump. He scored 11 points in the first quarter and he had just one turnover in 39 minutes of work (see Instant Replay). In the fourth quarter when the Lakers switched Kobe Bryant on him, Holiday made smart decisions with the ball and his teammates made big shots.We executed well, knocked down some big shots. Spencer knocked down a big one, Holiday recalled. "Jason Richardson made some big plays, Evan Turner got to the free throw line. I think we were smart about our play today.The Sixers got to the free throw line in the fourth quarter but they did not enjoy success there. There was a stretch in the final two minutes where Richardson went to the line and missed both attempts. The Lakers came down and Dwight Howard was fouled. Howard, a 51-percent free throw shooter, made both. Then Turner had a turn from 15 feet and he missed both as well.The Sixers missed seven fourth quarter free throws before finishing 13 for 20; the Lakers were 22 for 33. What was a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead dwindled to two points, until Spencer Hawes made a baseline jumper for two of his 13 points off the bench to give the Sixers a 101-97 lead with 1:12 to play.We dodged it at the end. We missed four free throws and took a quick three when we should have used the clock," head coach Doug Collins said, referencing an ill-advised shot by Richardson. "It was a learning experience to say the least, but it is a great win for our team to start the new year.Bryant, as he so often does, tried to carry the Lakers on his back. He scored 36 points, shooting 14 for 29 from the floor, but his frontcourt teammates of Howard and Gasol were a combined 3 for 19 and the Lakers as a team were just 3 for 22 from beyond the arc.We just wanted to make him work hard because he is incredible, Collins said of Bryant. Kobe is able to get a shot every time he wants coming down the floor. He took 29 shots but the key was trying to keep him off the foul line, as well as trying to contest him, especially late in the game when he starts working for those shots.You know what Kobe is going to do. I thought he was going to make every shot he took, Holiday added. You just try to make it hard for him. You have three guys there, I know there were times when there were three or four guys there because we were trying to make someone else score so Kobe wouldnt take over.When Holiday went to the bench for a breather -- something that too often has proven costly for the Sixers -- Turner was a calming force. Turner scored 22 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and had five assists. Like Holiday, Turner committed just one turnover.Turner is looking at Tuesdays performance as a building block for himself and the team.Its key, Turner said of winning Wednesdays upcoming date with Phoenix, a team that has lost six straight. We are trying to string together some victories and take advantage of the opportunity. We did well against the Suns the last time but with all our guys back and the type of game we just played we have to string a couple more wins together.The Sixers won each of the first three quarters against LA and had no serious droughts that they experienced in their previous two games, both of which they lost.
E-mail Dei Lynam at firstname.lastname@example.org