The Lakers kept their noses ahead of the Clippers in the Pacific Division race with a tense 113-108 victory in the battle between the well-matched Los Angeles teams on Wednesday.
Much like the rivalry itself, the Lakers' early control dissolved into a tight affair before Kobe Bryant nailed a jumper to put his team four points ahead with 21 seconds left and his team held on.
Bryant had 31 points and big man Andrew Bynum returned from a one-game absence with an ankle injury to score 36.
Caron Butler tallied a team-high 28 points and Chris Paul got 22 and 16 assists but the Clippers had their six-game win streak snapped and fell 2 1/2 games behind the Lakers for third place in the West.
In other NBA action, the streaking San Antonio Spurs edged out Boston 87-86 at the final buzzer to record a ninth straight victory that pulled them to within one game of West-leading Oklahoma City.
By contrast, the Thunder suffered a 98-93 defeat to the Miami Heat in a spirited battle between MVP candidates LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
James scored 34 to Durant's 30 and the Heat are now two games back of East-leading Chicago.
The defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks topped Memphis 95-85 to pull even with the Grizzlies in the standings as they jostle for the West's fifth spot.