LOS ANGELES, April 13 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant responded to criticism with a superlative performance.

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Bryant collected a season-high 45 points, eight assists and seven rebounds to rally the Los Angeles Lakers to a 109-104 triumph over the Golden State Warriors.

Bryant scored just eight points Sunday as the Lakers were blown out at Sacramento, 102-85. An anonymous teammate complained to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that Bryant had intentionally not given his best performance in response to criticism that he had taken too many shots in previous games.

"People who believe in me know I wouldn't do that, point blank," Bryant said in a televised interview, his only one after the game.

Asked if the charge hurt him, Bryant responded, "Absolutely."

But the perennial All-Star came out firing, taking 11 shots in the first quarter after attempting just one in the first half Sunday.

"He came out tonight aggressive and shot the ball," Lakers forward Shaquille O'Neal said of Bryant. "He was Kobe."

Bryant finished 14-of-29 from the floor and 17-of-18 from the line.

"It's a bad night to run into the Lakers after Kobe Bryant's going to come out and play like he did tonight," Warriors coach Eric Musselman said. "Superstar player. He played great."

O'Neal contributed 23 points and 13 rebounds and several big plays down the stretch for the Lakers (55-26), who moved into a tie with the Kings atop the Pacific Division standings with one game remaining.

If Los Angeles wins at Portland and Sacramento loses at home to Golden State on Wednesday, the Lakers win the division and secure the second seed in the Western Conference.

"We have one more game tomorrow and then we will find out who our opponent is, and then we will take a couple days to focus on them," O'Neal said. "Tomorrow we are going to try to get this game and try to go into the playoffs on a positive note, and hopefully Golden State can do us a favor - then we will be in second place."

The Lakers trailed, 65-49, 2 1/2 minutes into the second half but pulled within 78-73 entering the fourth quarter. They took the lead for good, 94-92, on a 3-pointer by Derek Fisher with 4:53 remaining, but held just a 96-95 lead before O'Neal followed missed shots by Bryant and Fisher with dunks to open a 100-95 edge with 2:10 left.

The lead was 100-97 when Bryant missed a 3-pointer. But O'Neal tipped the rebound to Slava Medvedenko, who was fouled and sank two free throws to open a five-point cushion with 20 seconds left.

"I just know that we can't keep digging into our well all the time," O'Neal said. "We have to put teams away."

Clifford Robinson scored 22 points and rookie Mickael Pietrus and reserve Brian Cardinal had 20 apiece for Golden State, which scored 17 of the game's first 22 points and held a 27-15 lead before the Lakers pulled within 29-27 at the end of the first period.

The Warriors extended their cushion to 61-49 at the break after shooting 52 percent in the openining two quarters.

"We have to come out with a higher energy level to start the game," Bryant said.

"It looked like it was going to be one of those ugly beginnings again, which was pretty true," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "You don't know what you're going to find with this team sometimes when you get on the court."

The Warriors, who already were missing injured guards Nick Van Exel and Avery Johnson, received just eight minutes from Speedy Claxton. Forward Mike Dunleavy who had 13 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, played the point for much of his 37 minutes.

"We got up big a couple times and in this building, the Lakers, they're always going to make a run, you know that," Dunleavy said. Everybody knows that. So I thought we weathered the storm pretty well a couple of times. But in the end, they were just too much."

Musselman was extremely pleased with the effort of his team, which also was missing injured center Erick Dampier and power forward Troy Murphy.

"Three point guards on the roster not playing, your starting 5 man and Murphy, who started every game in the four spot - there's not a team in the NBA that could be that depleted on the 81st night of the season and come in and compete like that locker room just competed," Musselman said. "It ain't gonna happen."