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NBA: Pau Gasol takes center stage as Lakers beat Wizards

Pau Gasol flourished in the role of starting center to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to their sixth straight win, a 99-92 triumph over the Washington Wizards on Sunday.

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NBA: Pau Gasol takes center stage as Lakers beat Wizards
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    Pau Gasol flourished in the role of starting center to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to their sixth straight win, a 99-92 triumph over the Washington Wizards on Sunday.                                           

    Gasol scored 28 points and had 12 rebounds after switching from his normal forward role following the loss of Andrew Bynum, who suffered an injury to his left Achilles' tendon on Friday. 

    "We lose a little size and gain a little speed," Gasol told reporters of playing without Bynum. "He's a big body who has really been effective for us in rebounding and shot-blocking." 

    The Lakers, however, have grown accustomed to playing without Bynum, who has missed more than 70 games in the previous two season due to injury.

    Bynum will miss a week and then be re-evaluated shifting responsibility to Gasol and Lamar Odom, who moved into the starting lineup and contributed 13 rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks.

    Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his 24 points in the second quarter as Los Angeles (52-18) built a 26-point halftime lead and held off the struggling Wizards despite a disappointing finish.

    With the victory, the Lakers were able to extend their lead to five games over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference.

    Lakers coach Phil Jackson, however, was more concerned with his team's inconsistency. 

    "The way we're playing we can't seem to sustain an effort for 48 minutes," Jackson said. "We didn't play with the intensity you have to play with."

    For Washington (21-47) it was an 11th straight loss, two shy of a franchise record.

    Reserve guard Nick Young had a season-high 22 points as the Wizards remain winless since Feb 28.

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