L.A. Lakers 117, Charlotte 116
CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 12 (Ticker) --
In the end, Kobe Bryant
was able to overcome rookie Emeka Okafor
and Brevin Knight
Bryant put an exclamation point on a huge fourth quarter by
draining a fadeaway jumper with nine-tenths of a second
remaining as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied for a 117-116
victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
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One of the NBA's best clutch players with a history of making
big shots when the game is on the line, Bryant took an inbounds
just above the circle, used a pump fake to get Keith Bogans
the air and drilled the winning shot.
"They may seem impossible to you, but I feel like if I raise up
and get a good look, it's a good shot," Bryant said. "When you
get a rhythm and the pressure comes, I feel like the basket even
gets wider. It's just one of those things. It's a lot easier
to make a shot when the pressure is on than it is in the first
Bryant's heroics did not shock Lakers coach Frank Hamblen
"This is the sixth year I've been with (Kobe) and it doesn't
surprise me anymore," Hamblen said. "I was with another very
similar guy in Chicago (Michael Jordan)."
Bryant scored 21 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, helping
the Lakers rally from a double-digit deficit. The superstar
made 8-of-12 shots in the final period.
"It was time to take over the game," Bryant said. "There are
certain times during the season where I'm just going to have to
take it over and tonight was one of them."
"Kobe had been going the whole quarter," Lakers guard Chucky Atkins
said. "Why wouldn't you? You either win or lose with
him. He made some tough shots I didn't even think were going in.
He pretty much willed us to victory today."
Knight and Bryant were whistled for double technical fouls late
in the fourth quarter after getting tangled up on a screen.
"It was just one of those games where I felt I'd get into a
rhythm," Bryant said. "In fact, one of those guys who was
sitting courtside at the beginning of the fourth quarter said
'Kobe, 11 points, we're shutting you down.' I just looked at
him and said 'Dude, I'm about to get going.' Brevin Knight
helped me out, too. He got me going."
Led by Bryant, the Lakers shot 62 percent (13-of-21) in the
fourth quarter, including connecting on 6-of-11 3-pointers.
A driving layup by Matt Carroll
, who scored 12 points in eight
minutes off the bench, gave the Bobcats a 100-90 lead with 7:32
But Bryant scored the Lakers' next nine points in just over two
minutes, pulling them within 103-99 with 5:29 to go.
Knight attempted to answer Bryant, making a jumper and two free
throws with 1:24 to play for a 116-111 advantage.
Bryant scored inside with 1:10 to go and Jumaine Jones
follow shot with 32 seconds left. Jason Hart
missed a jumper on
the other end, setting the stage for Bryant's heroics.
Atkins added 26 points for the Lakers, who improved to 2-0 on a
six-game road trip. They overcame a 12-point deficit in
Thursday's 100-95 victory over Dallas and a 10-point
fourth-quarter deficit in this one en route to winning
consecutive games on the road for the first time this season.
"I told them before the game that we hadn't won two games in a
row yet on the road and that for a playoff team, that has to
stop," Hamblen said. "We simply must get better defensively.
Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm happy with the win, but it was
kind of like a shootout at the OK Corral."
Okafor, the second pick in June's draft, enjoyed his best night
as a professional with a franchise-record 30 points and 11
Returning to the lineup after missing three games with a
sprained ankle, Knight added 21 and 17 assists without
committing a turnover, but missed a desperation 3-pointer as
"I though we played well," Knight said. "We had a couple of
uncontested threes that they shot that really hurt us. That's
just a matter of understanding the time situation and knowing
what (Bryant's) strengths are and force them to do something
they don't want to do."
The Bobcats narrowly missed in their bid to knock off both teams
that reached the NBA Finals last season. They posted a 91-89
victory over NBA champion Detroit here on Nov. 23.
"That was a heck of a basketball game," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff
said. "I thought both teams played exceptionally
well. What a terrific effort after coming off of last night and
coming in with the Lakers waiting on you. Some of the shots
that guy (Kobe Bryant) made were just unbelievable."
It marked the Bobcats' 11th loss this season by three points or
less. Only the Los Angeles Clippers have lost more with 12.
"It's just more of the story of the Bobcats," Okafor said. "The
saga continues. We played hard and were right there for the
whole game, and it slips out of our hand."
Both teams shot just under 55 percent. Los Angeles made
43-of-79 shots, including 14-of-28 from the arc. Charlotte went
45-of-83 but made just 3-of-9 from the arc.