CHICAGO, March 13 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant's
injured shoulder apparently
is strong enough to carry the Los Angeles Lakers' offense down
NBA TV highlights from|
Bryant scored 12 of his 35 points in the final five-plus minutes
to lift the Lakers to an 88-81 victory over the Chicago Bulls,
who have lost six straight games.
At full strength for the first time in nearly three months, the
Lakers were coming off a loss at Minnesota on Friday. They were
in danger of dropping consecutive games for the first time
since Jan. 19-22.
Again wearing a protective shirt beneath his jersey to harness
his sprained right shoulder, Bryant looked as sharp as he has
all season. He took over late in the fourth quarter, turning
back a rally by the Bulls.
"It's fun being out there," Bryant said. "I think about how
much fun it is to play the game, I don't want to think about the
pain. It's fun being out there, especially in the fourth
Chicago had pulled within a hoop with 5:25 left when Bryant made
a floating layup and a drive for a 78-72 lead with 4:33 to
play. After a dunk by Antonio Davis
, Bryant drilled a jumper
over Kendall Gill
and sank a tough lefthanded layup for an 82-74
bulge with 1:48 to go.
"The flow of the game was coming," said Bryant, who made
12-of-25 shots. "I made some pretty big shots for us. They
were all falling."
"I don't think we were doing anything wrong," Bulls coach Scott
Skiles said. "He was just rising over us and making shots. We
had a couple times where we did not have a hand up. Other than
that, he just hit pretty tough shots."
The Bulls closed to 82-79 in the final minute before Bryant sank
a jumper from the left wing with 35 seconds remaining. He
added two free throws to seal it 16 seconds later.
had 16 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks and
added 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers, who
had lost their previous two visits to Chicago.
Despite the late surge by Bryant, Lakers coach Phil Jackson was
"I think Kobe is thinking more about shooting," Jackson said.
"(He) really has to do more what comes naturally. He got into
it and made some shots down the stretch."
scored 16 points and rookie Kirk Hinrich
added 15 and
12 assists for the Bulls, who undid themselves with poor
free-throw shooting. Chicago made just 16-of-31 foul shots,
including 0-of-8 by Tyson Chandler
"I'm in a process of tweaking my style," said Chandler, a 73
percent foul shooter. "I've been watching video of how I shot
the ball in high school. But I haven't quite got there yet."
Two missed free throws by Chandler stalled a fourth-quarter
surge by the Bulls.
"After I missed the first four in a row, I just tried to guide
them after that, and it killed me," he said.
O'Neal picked up his fourth foul midway through the third
quarter and the Lakers down, 56-53. He stayed in the game and
LA rallied to take the lead. The 7-1 superstar had two baskets
early in the final period, widening the advantage to 74-66.