Fox News - Fair & Balanced

Sports


 
           === Kobe plays hero again as Lakers edge Raptors in OT ===
 
 Los  Angeles,  CA (Sports Network)  - For a  second straight game, Kobe Bryant
 brought  the  Los Angeles  Lakers back from  the depths of  despair to a much-
 needed victory.
 
 Bryant  again went  over 40  points, this  time with  41, 12  assists and  six
 rebounds,  as the Lakers overcame the Toronto Raptors, 118-116, in overtime at
 Staples Center.
 
 Bryant dribbled by Aaron Gray and raced in for a two-handed, tie-breaking dunk
 with  10.6 seconds left  in OT. The Lakers got a reprieve at the end when Rudy
 Gay missed a potential tying jumper.
 
 On  Wednesday, the Lakers  held New Orleans without a point for the final 6:47
 in a 108-102 win. The Lakers used a 20-0 run in that game to erase an 18-point
 fourth quarter deficit after falling behind by as many as 25 points.
 
 Two  nights  later, the Lakers trailed  by as many  as 15 points and were down
 seven  with under four  minutes left in regulation, but pulled out the win and
 moved  above  .500 (32-31)  for the first  time since Nov.  20. They're only a
 half-game  behind  Utah for the eighth  seed in the Western Conference playoff
 chase.
 
 Bryant,  who overcame  nine turnovers,  hit a  trio of  big 3-pointers  in the
 closing  two minutes of regulation. That included a spectacular shot that tied
 the game at 109 with 5.5 seconds remaining.
 
 "These  have  been  two very  tough  games,  I'm  not  pleased with  the  nine
 turnovers," Bryant said. "They are really eating away at me right now."
 
 Gay then missed a jumper that would have given Toronto the win.
 
 Dwight  Howard  totaled 24 points, 13  rebounds and five blocks, as the Lakers
 won their 10th in a row at home against the Raptors. They also got revenge for
 a 108-103 loss at Toronto on Jan. 20.
 
 Steve Nash had 22 points in the win.
 
 DeMar  DeRozan  ended with 28  points for the Raptors,  who lost for the sixth
 time in seven games.
 
 Bryant's  first 3-ball  in the fourth quarter surge, a forced attempt with the
 shot clock about to expire, brought the hosts within 105-103 with 1:41 left.
 
 "Our guys were fighting and scratching. Kobe makes great shots," Toronto coach
 Dwane  Casey said.  "We knew what he was  going to do. That's why he's a great
 player."
 
 After  Alan Anderson's  layup, hope  looked lost  for the  Lakers when  Bryant
 missed  a  pair of shots, but  Kyle Lowry was off  the mark on a 3-pointer and
 that opened the door for Bryant. He drained a catch-and-shoot attempt from the
 left corner with 29.3 seconds left.
 
 Lowry then made two free throws with 8.4 seconds left, but Bryant, with a hand
 in  his  face and  from one  defender and another  leaping behind him, stepped
 back and somehow drained a right wing 3-pointer to force OT.
 
 "We  could have  easily lost these last two games," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni
 said.  "Kobe's shots  were unbelievable. I'm glad I'm on his side. Those shots
 at the end, there's nobody on the planet that could make those."
 
 Nash  drained  a three  from the  top of  the arc to  tie it  at 115 with 45.3
 seconds left in OT. Then came Bryant's slam.
 
 "I  saw him coming.  I had to decoy him a little bit," Bryant said of his move
 around Gray. "It becomes a screen for my defender. He didn't have the speed to
 do anything so I went around him."
 
 Anderson  went 1-of-2  at the foul line  with 7.5 ticks left, but the door was
 left ajar for the Raptors after Nash split two from the charity stripe. It was
 not to be for the Raptors as Gay's jumper from the right elbow clanked off the
 rim.
 
 The  Lakers were behind by 12 points after the first quarter and trailed 44-29
 early  in the second.  Toronto held a 59-53 lead at the break and was in front
 as many as 13 in the third. It was 89-79 going to the fourth.
 
 "Playing in games like this is great for our team," Howard said. "We're trying
 to get better. We could have stopped playing, but we just stuck together. Kobe
 hit some tough shots and we got some good stops at the end."
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 The  Lakers were 14-of-39  from beyond the arc ... Bryant has 119 games in his
 career  with  at least 40  points ... Toronto  has never won consecutive games
 against  the Lakers ... Toronto fell to 2-7 in overtime games ... Lowry had 15
 points and 10 assists ... Gay and Anderson each had 17 points.
 
 
 03/09 02:23:37 ET