Los Angeles, CA – Kobe Bryant scored 24 points and had nine assists, and the Los Angeles Lakers continued their push for a playoff spot with an 86-84 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Dwight Howard had nine points and 10 rebounds, but he went 1-of-2 at the foul line with 4.1 seconds left to give the Grizzlies a chance to tie or win.
Mike Conley, who missed a jumper prior to Memphis fouling Howard, then drove into the lane. Howard made contact, but no foul was called and the shot was off the mark as time expired.
"I thought he did a great job. He tried to avoid contact and stayed big enough to bother the shot," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of Howard's defense. "I thought he defended it perfectly."
The result kept the Lakers a half-game ahead of Utah for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Utah won at home over New Orleans earlier Friday.
"We have big games coming up against tough opponents. I think at this point in the season it should be very easy for us to maintain our focus," Bryant said.
The Lakers play the Clippers Sunday afternoon.
Pau Gasol contributed 19 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who have won three in a row. They had lost three straight to the Grizzlies, including both meetings this season.
The Grizzlies, who continue to occupy the fifth spot in the West, got 21 points from Conley. Zach Randolph scored 15 and Jerryd Bayless had 14 for the Grizzlies, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Randolph's running hook shot gave Memphis an 84-83 lead with 2:32 left, and Bryant then missed a 3-point shot. Gasol, though, utilized a pick-and-roll to perfection as he received a Bryant pass and scored a layup with 1:36 left to put the Lakers back on top at 85-84. That came after Conley missed a layup.
Bayless failed on a 3-point try, but Bryant missed a pair of shots and Blake couldn't get a 3-pointer to fall to set up the finish.
"We just didn't get the key stops at the end and we gave up a couple of offensive rebounds," Bayless said. "That was pretty tough, but overall, we put ourselves in a position to win and just didn't close it out tonight.:
The Lakers were up 25-18 after one quarter and widened the gap to as many as 13 in the second before settling for a 46-39 lead at the break.
The Grizzlies had a big rally to start the third and pushed their lead to 54-47 midway through the period following a Randolph 3-point play.
LA then turned the tables with a 19-4 spurt, capped by Antawn Jamison's 3- point play with 1:04 left. It was 68-62 going to the fourth.
Lakers guard Steve Nash (strained right hamstring) missed the game ... Marc Gasol had 11 points, eight boards and seven assists for Memphis.