Pau Gasol scored 25 points, Kobe Bryant added 18 on his sprained left ankle, and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame Andrew Bynum's fourth-quarter ejection to beat the Timberwolves for the 15th straight time, 106-98 on Friday night.

Bynum had 10 points and 14 rebounds before getting tossed with 6:16 to play for a flagrant foul against Michael Beasley, who crashed to the floor after Bynum clobbered him on a drive.

Despite a rusty return from a three-day break, Los Angeles has won 11 of 12 since all-star weekend.

Wes Johnson scored a career-high 29 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost 14 of 18. Beasley scored 18 points before leaving with apparent hip pain from Bynum's foul.

The Lakers (49-20), who have lost only to Miami since the all-star break, also opened a one-game lead over Dallas (48-21) for second place in the Western Conference standings. Los Angeles was unable to wrap up the formality of its fourth straight Pacific Division title because Phoenix beat Golden State.

Yet the Lakers barely held off the lowly Timberwolves, who led for most of the first three quarters and went in front again in the final four minutes.

Beasley and Matt Barnes argued vehemently after Bynum's flagrant foul, with teammates and officials separating them. Beasley got a technical foul for the exchange — and after he hobbled off the floor in pain moments later, Martell Webster's skull collided with Bryant's jaw while Webster drew a foul and made a jumper, sending Bryant facedown to the floor in pain.

That collision finally sparked the Lakers, who already have lost this season to Sacramento and Cleveland — two of the three NBA teams with poorer records than the Timberwolves.