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Howard leads Lakers past Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (AFP) –

Dwight Howard of the LA Lakers, shown on February 28, 2013 in Los Angeles, California

Dwight Howard of the LA Lakers, shown on February 28, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Howard scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while Kobe Bryant went scoreless in limited minutes due to an ankle injury as the Los Angeles Lakers beat Indiana 99-93.

Dwight Howard scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while Kobe Bryant went scoreless in limited minutes due to an ankle injury as the Los Angeles Lakers beat Indiana 99-93.

The Lakers, battling with Utah for the last Western Conference playoff berth at 35-32, dropped the Central division-leading Pacers to 40-25 thanks to solid play from Howard, 18 points from Steve Blake and 17 from Antawn Jamison.

But the main concern was Bryant’s condition as he tested a sprained left ankle. The Lakers’ playmaker suffered the injury in the last seconds of a loss Wednesday to Atlanta and decided he wanted to try and play only two days later.

Bryant played the entire first quarter, going 0-for-4 from the field, but did not return to the game, going scoreless over at least 12 minutes for the first time in an NBA game in 15 years.

Steve Nash scored 15 points and passed out nine assists for the Lakers, who expect Bryant to be out indefinitely.

Indiana’s George Hill scored a game-high 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting from the field while Paul George contributed 20 points and nine rebounds in only the eighth home loss for the Pacers this season.

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