L.A. Lakers 105, Portland 104 (2 OT)
PORTLAND, Ore., April 14 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant
's star never
shined brighter than on Wednesday night.
NBA TV highlights from|
Nestlé Crunch Time:
Kobe's huge treys:
Bryant's long fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Lakers a
105-104 double-overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers
and an improbable Pacific Division title.
A loss by the Sacramento Kings earlier Wednesday opened the door
for the Lakers (56-26), but they needed roughly three hours to
claim the win and looked like a beaten team on more than one
"It was a great shot by the young fellow, Kobe," teammate
said. "He told us, set me a good pick and
we're going home. This is how a great player makes a shot.
It's funny, after all the stuff we went through this year, we
still win the Pacific Division. This is the moment we've been
Los Angeles trailed, 87-84, in regulation when Portland forward
missed two free throws with eight seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, Bryant was stymied by Patterson's
defense and appeared to have no shot. He pumped several times
unsuccessfully, slid his body to the right and just managed to
get off a 26-foot 3-pointer that went right through and tied the
contest with 1.1 seconds remaining.
The first overtime was a battle between NBA superstar O'Neal and
. Each big man scored scored six points in the
extra session, with O'Neal's basket tying it at 95-95 with 30
After O'Neal fouled out with just over three minutes remaining
in the second overtime, Damon Stoudamire
scored Portland's last
seven points, including a coast-to-coast, slashing drive to the
hoop that gave Portland a 104-102 lead with 2.2 seconds to go.
Following a loose ball foul on Portland's Darius Miles
for bumping Derek Fisher
, the stage was set for Bryant,
who scored 37 points.
He took Gary Payton
's inbounds pass, elevated and drilled
another 26-footer over NBA blocked shots leader Theo Ratliff
who hit Bryant's arm and knocked him to the floor.
"It's always a wonderful sight to see them go in," Lakers coach
said. "It's something ridiculous almost to see the
shot with the arc like that go in, but we're not surprised."
"I have a courageous little brother," O'Neal said. "He's always
got my back."
Los Angeles had trailed the entire game until a 3-pointer by
Payton with four minutes left tied the score at 79. From that
point on there were seven lead changes and eight ties.
"Tonight showed a lot about this team," Fisher said. "We could
have easily folded. Shaq fouls out, being down with less than a
second left. ... Kobe showed a lot of toughness."
The second-seeded Lakers will play the Houston Rockets in the
first round of the NBA playoffs.
Randolph had 21 points and 18 rebounds for the Trail Blazers
(41-41), who missed the playoffs for the first time in 22
"It was a great game in so many ways," Randolph said. "Kobe
just hit two amazing shots, it just means we have to spend the
whole summer working harder and harder to get better."
"Although we're not in the playoffs, I am very excited about
this team," Portland coach Maurice Cheeks
said. "Night in,
night out we go out and compete. This is a team that is going
to be successful for years to come. This team's going to get
back in the playoffs and make a few runs in the next few years."
Laker forward Karl Malone
sprained his ankle with seconds left in
the first half and did not play thereafter. Malone left the
Rose Garden under his own power and did not go to the hospital.
His status for the opening game of the playoffs is uncertain.