LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 20 seconds left, after starting the game with 15 straight misses, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied to beat the last-place New Orleans Hornets 88-85 on Saturday.
It was just the third field goal of the game for Bryant, who finished with 11 points on 3 of 21 shooting as the Lakers ended a two-game skid at home. Pau Gasol had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Andrew Bynum added 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Ramon Sessions had 10 points and 10 assists.
Bryant was 0 for 7 on 3-pointers before making his only one. He had five assists, three rebounds and four fouls in 39 minutes. He endured the worst start to a game in his career, having previously missed his first 13 shots against San Antonio on Dec. 28, 2010.
Jarrett Jack had 18 points and 10 assists for the Hornets, but he missed a go-ahead bank shot with 4.9 seconds left.
Jason Smith added 17 points and 10 rebounds, and former Clipper Al-Farouq Aminu had 10 points for the Hornets, who lost playing their second straight game with just eight players available because of injuries. Trevor Ariza, Carl Landry, and Chris Kaman all sat out, while new father Gustavo Ayon and Emeka Okafor weren't with the team.
The Lakers' anemic bench still got outscored by the Hornets' three reserves, 26-19. As a team, the Lakers went 32 of 77 from the floor, playing poorly for much of the game until being rescued by Bryant's late heroics.
The Lakers trailed 75-65 before he hit a 17-foot jumper over Marco Belinelli with 7:52 remaining for his first field goal. Bryant followed on the next possession with a fadeaway jumper and got fouled, making the free throw to get his team within seven after sitting out the first four minutes of the fourth.
Bryant stepped to the line with 58 seconds left after Jack was called for a blocking foul. He made the first and missed the second, leaving the Lakers trailing 85-83 and the fans in agony. Their voices rose in a cheer when he finally made his first basket, and groaned on every subsequent miss.
Greivis Vasquez missed a 3-pointer with 31 seconds to go, setting up another signature closing moment by Bryant. He was 0 for 7 in the first half, missing four 3-pointers while dishing out five assists.
The Lakers opened the game on a 20-6 run before New Orleans scored the final eight points to trail 20-14. Steve Blake sparked the Lakers' bench with three 3-pointers in the second while Barnes scored four in a row to extend their lead to 41-30. But the Hornets closed with a 9-2 run and trailed 43-39 at halftime.
NOTES: Before the game, Bryant met with Lakers fan Allene Wynn of suburban Pacoima, fulfilling the 104-year-old woman's wish. She attended as a guest of the team and pulled no punches with Bryant, telling him, "You need to play better." ... The Lakers played their first non-holiday home game on a Saturday in the regular season since Jan. 17, 2004. ... The Lakers are 2-0 against the Hornets this season, having rallied from 17 points down on the road to win 107-101 in overtime earlier this month.