Los Angeles, CA – Despite one of the worst shooting performances of his career, Kobe Bryant hit the shot that mattered most with the game on the line.
Bryant rose up from the left wing and nailed a go-ahead three-pointer with 20.2 seconds remaining, lifting the Los Angeles Lakers past the New Orleans Hornets, 88-85, on Saturday.
Jason Smith had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer, but his three-point attempt was blocked by Pau Gasol.
Bryant, who missed his first 15 shots from the floor, didn't record his first point until there was 7:30 left in the fourth quarter. He finished with 11 points on 3-of-21 shooting from the floor.
Bryant never missed more than 11 straight shots to start a contest until Saturday.
Gasol netted 21 points to go with 11 rebounds and Andrew Bynum added 19 points and 10 boards for Los Angeles, which has won four of its last six games. Ramon Sessions had 10 points and 10 assists.
"A tough game for us, but we stayed with it," Lakers head coach Mike Brown said. "It was a great team effort because we had to fight to get it done. We found a way to win."
Jarrett Jack scored 18 points to go with 10 assists while Smith added 17 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which has lost four of its past five contests.
"We got some good looks at the end, we put ourselves in a position to win, but sometimes the shots don't go your way," said Smith. "This was a tough one."
The Hornets used a 10-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters to take a 71-61 lead early in the fourth.
Bryant's first made field goal, a left-elbow jumper, pulled Los Angeles within 75-67. A bit later, Bynum's layup, followed by a pair of Bryant free throws made it 79-76 in favor of the visitors with 4:25 to go.
Smith's pull-up jumper gave New Orleans an 85-80 advantage with 2:16 showing on the clock, but the Lakers closed the game on an 8-0 run.
Bynum threw down a dunk, and then blocked Lance Thomas at the other end. Bryant sank 1-of-2 free throws, making it 85-83 with 58.3 ticks left.
Following a Greivis Vasquez missed three, Bryant dribbled up the floor and waited patiently at the left wing before hoisting the go-ahead triple over Jack.
Jack missed a bank shot on the Hornets' ensuing possession, and Matt Barnes nailed a pair of foul shots for an 88-85 Lakers lead with 2.5 remaining.
But Smith was blocked at the buzzer to end the game.
The Hornets shot just 30.4 percent in the opening quarter while Gasol netted seven points in the stanza as the Lakers took a 20-14 lead after one.
Los Angeles took a 43-39 advantage into the locker room. Bryant was 0-of-7 from the floor in the half.
New Orleans led, 67-61, after three quarters of play.
Bryant was 1-of-8 from beyond the arc...The Lakers were 17-of-22 from the foul line while New Orleans finished 5-of-10 from the charity stripe...New Orleans scored 15 points on 15 Los Angeles turnovers.