Los Angeles, CA – 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."
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.