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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers 99, Atlanta 98

March 4, 2013 at 12:30 AM

LOS ANGELES, March 4 (UPI) -- Kobe Bryant put Los Angeles ahead on a driving lay-in with 9 seconds remaining Sunday and the Lakers used his 34 points to edge Atlanta 99-98.

Bryant's decisive basket and Steve Blake's subsequent steal of a Josh Smith pass as time expired enabled the Lakers to reach the .500 mark (30-30) for the first time since Dec. 28.

Dwight Howard contributed 11 points and 15 rebounds for Los Angeles, which remained 2 1/2 games behind Houston for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Al Horford led the Hawks with 24 points.

Smith contributed 19 points, seven boards and seven assists in the loss, Atlanta's second straight.

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