Lakers Beat Bobcats on Bryant Free Throws
L.A. Lakers 99, Charlotte 98
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 4 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant had trouble shooting from the floor but not from the line.
Bryant made 11-of-12 free throws, including a go-ahead pair with 7.2 seconds left, as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to edge the Charlotte Bobcats, 99-98.
"Hopefully this will show us that we can win these kind of games," Bryant said.
Charlotte held just a 96-90 lead before Brian Cook made a jumper and a 3-pointer, the latter with 1:27 remaining, to make it a one-point game. Gerald Wallace missed a 3-pointer for the Bobcats, but the rebound was tipped to Keith Bogans, who made a layup with 1:06 left for a 98-95 lead.
The teams traded empty possessions before Bryant was fouled and sank two free throws with 17 seconds left. But veteran Brevin Knight - a 79 percent free-throw shooter who had sank 3-of-4 in the contest - missed a pair from the line with 11 seconds to play, giving the Lakers a chance to take the lead.
"It's tough," Knight said. "Especially when you've got two free throws to make it a three-point game. It's hard to swallow."
Bryant took advantage of the opportunity, driving to the basket and drawing a foul from Bernard Robinson.
"Last year I beat them on a one-dribble pull-up," Bryant said. "I think their coach was telling them to watch out for the pull-up, which is what I normally do. So when I was dribbling he was staying close, so I took the ball to the basket."
After his two free throws gave Los Angeles a 99-98 lead, Knight pushed the ball upcourt and dished to Wallace on the left wing. Wallace shot an airball that may have been tipped by Luke Walton.
The rebound went to Bogans, but the guard's follow shot at the buzzer was blocked by 7-footer Chris Mihm, who appeared to get away with contact.
Mihm collected a season-high 21 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who have won two of three after losing four of five.
"We found a way to pull it out," Mihm said. "That's more important to me than anything. We had flashes where we played well but looked stagnant out there a lot tonight."
"We struggled some tonight because they did a great job of punching the ball inside," Bryant said. "Then their post guys just scored the ball, made tough shots, including a few hook shots. They just took advantage of the opportunities."
Reserve Melvin Ely scored 20 points and Knight added 17 for the Bobcats, who are a league-worst 1-10 on the road.
"We've been trying to get a lot out of our second unit," Ely said. "Most of that falls on my shoulders. When the starters go out of the ballgame, it's our job to keep our patience and play hard until they get back. We were just fortunate I had a good game."
"Our effort has been better these last three games," Knight said. "We've really competed better, but we just haven't been able to get it done."
Charlotte had opened an 81-71 advantage on a jumper by former Laker Jumaine Jones with 9:23 to play. Los Angeles embarked on a 15-5 run, tying the game on two free throws by Sasha Vujacic with 6:06 to play.
"It was our basketball game to win and we lost it," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "It's that simple. The perfect guy had the ball in his hands, had the shots. I'll live with it any day."