Los Angeles, CA – Steve Blake made two free throws with 42.2 seconds remaining and the Lakers held off Golden State just enough to earn a hard-fought 118-116 victory at Staples Center to help their playoff chances.
Friday's win may have come at an incredible cost for the Lakers, however. Following the game a visibly shaken Kobe Bryant tried to hold back tears after learning he most likely tore his Achilles.
"I made a move I've made a million times, and (the Achilles) just popped," said an emotional Bryant, who netted 34 points despite suffering the injury in the second half.
Pau Gasol recorded a triple-double with 26 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who won their 10th straight at home versus intrastate rival Golden State.
"We knew it was going to be difficult, but in the end we got some big stops and big rebounds and got the win," Gasol said. "I don't have enough words to express how much I admire what (Bryant's) been trying to do all season long pretty much. Just fighting through pain, fighting through fatigue."
Dwight Howard netted 28 points and Blake added 14 and five assists in the win, which puts the Lakers one game ahead of Utah for the Western Conference's last playoff spot.
Stephen Curry led all players with 47 points on 9-of-15 shooting from behind the arc to go along with nine assists and three steals for the Warriors, who have dropped two straight after clinching their first playoff appearance since the 2006-07 campaign with a win versus Minnesota on Tuesday.
"I was just trying to be aggressive early," Curry said. "When you're able to be aggressive early and you see your shots falling, things start to open up."
David Lee had 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Klay Thompson scored 25 points to go along with seven helpers in defeat.
Down two points following a Howard dunk with 1 1/2 minutes to play, Thompson came up huge with a 3-pointer to make it 116-115. Blake then put the hosts ahead by one as he calmly nailed two shots from the charity stripe to make it 117-116 with 42 seconds left.
On the next Golden State possession, Jarrett Jack caught a pass on the baseline but stepped out of bounds. Gasol then missed a shot and Jack pulled the board down in a crowd before calling timeout with 9.7 seconds remaining. Carl Landry had a wide open look with less than five seconds left, but it rimmed out.
Howard, who grabbed Landry's miss, went to the free throw line and made 1-of-2 shots with 1.5 ticks remaining. Curry threw up a 70-foot heave but it hit the back rim and Los Angeles held on for the win.
Trailing by nine with 6:49 left, the Lakers used a quick 9-0 run -- all of which came from behind the arc -- as Blake had one triple and Bryant had two, tying the game at 107-107 with 3:45 to play.
Bryant, who appeared to be battling through the injury for most of the second half, left the contest and went into the locker room after shooting two free throws in visible pain. The game was knotted up at 109-109 after his makes.
"Just continue to play," Bryant said of his team's chances moving forward. "They've been dealing with injuries all year ... I can't walk, I tried to put pressure on my heel, but there's just nothing there. I've never had to deal with something like this. It's a new experience for me."
Golden State held a 32-26 lead after the first quarter of play, as Curry paced all players with 22 points.
The Warriors jumped out to 76-69 lead in the third quarter after the contest was tied, 57-57, at the break. Bryant, despite the injury, closed the gap to 78-76 with a fadeaway jumper, but the Lakers still trailed heading to the fourth by a 90-85 margin.
Los Angeles is 27-12 at home this season ... Los Angeles concludes its regular season schedule against San Antonio and Houston, while Utah plays at Minnesota and Memphis.