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Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press
Cleveland Cavaliers small forward Omri Casspi, left, of Israel goes up for a shot as Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum defends during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant scored 42 points in his third straight 40-point performance, and the Los Angeles Lakers blew a big early lead before hanging on for their fifth straight victory, 97-92 over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

Pau Gasol had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who won their eighth consecutive game at Staples Center since Christmas. Until Bryant took charge, Los Angeles allowed a 19-point lead to dwindle to three in the final minutes of coach Mike Brown's first meeting with the Cavaliers since they fired him in 2010.

Bryant managed just seven points in the fourth quarter but hit two big jumpers down the stretch, giving him three straight 40-point games for the first time since March 2007, when he had five straight.