Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Kobe Bryant scored 21 of his 32 points in the second half and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Sacramento Kings 98-95 on Tuesday night.
Bryant is 31 points away from passing Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
His final two points of the night came after he sunk a pair of free throws with 15.6 seconds left for a 98-95 advantage, and the Kings never got a good look from beyond the arc. They settled for a Nik Stauskas step-through 3- pointer from the top of the arc, which clanked off the front of the rim.
Carlos Boozer posted 15 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who had dropped seven of their last nine games coming in.
"I just wanted to keep us in it," Bryant said. "Down the stretch we were active defensively. We made steals and our energy carried us through."
Darren Collison had 26 points and six assists, while Rudy Gay added 23 points for Sacramento, which has lost six of its last eight contests.
"We defended well, but offensively we had a lack of execution down the stretch," Kings coach Michael Malone said.
The Lakers trailed 88-81 with 8:42 left before Wesley Johnson knocked down a left wing triple to cap a 6-0 spurt to get them within 88-87 with 4:34 to go.
Bryant's trey with 2:16 on the clock tied it at 92-92. A possession later, Bryant threaded the needle with a one-handed pass from the top of the arc which found Jordan Hill inside, and his layup put the Lakers in front, 94-93, with 1:39 to go.
Collison drove in from the right wing with a nifty left-handed reverse with 42.9 ticks remaining, but two Bryant free throws with 34.4 to play staked LA to a 96-95 edge.
Earlier, the Kings led 29-24 after a quarter of play and headed into the locker room with a 55-46 cushion at the break.
Collison nailed a jumper in the waning seconds of the third and Sacramento headed into the fourth with an 81-78 advantage.
Bryant came in averaging an NBA-best 25.2 points per game despite shooting a career-worst 38.9 percent from the field ... Los Angeles improved to 3-9 at Staples Center this season ... LA netted 21 points off 16 Sacramento turnovers and committed just five giveaways.