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 Bryant's late surge gives Lakers win

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PostSubject: Bryant's late surge gives Lakers win   Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:42 pm

LOS ANGELES(AP) Kobe Bryant has become one of
the best team players and leaders in the league. Still, when it's
winning time, he wants the ball.With the game tied and the clock
ticking down, Bryant ran off 23 seconds, then, with defenders lunging
at him, coolly hit a turnaround, fadeaway jumper with 3 seconds
remaining Friday night to give the Los Angeles Lakers a 121-119 victory
over the stubborn Indiana Pacers.Bryant's 36 points included the Lakers' final 11 of the game, and he also finished with 13 assists and seven rebounds."I
just played the game and made them (the Pacers) make decisions,''
Bryant said. "In the fourth quarter, you just have to stay home a
little more.''He said his last shot felt good, "but I had shots
in the past, like the one in Miami that felt good, but it came in and
out. So I made sure that one stayed down.''Mike Dunleavy made a
3-pointer with 26.4 seconds remaining to pull the Pacers even at 119
before Bryant closed the scoring. Indiana took a timeout immediately
after Bryant's basket, then inbounded the ball but could not get a shot
off before the buzzer.Bryant went 15-of-17 from the free throw
line and 10-of-20 from the floor. His shooting was off early in the
final quarter, but he kept putting the ball up. The final 11 points
were all he scored in the period."We couldn't stop Kobe,'' said
the Pacers' Danny Granger, who had 28 points when he fouled out with 47
seconds remaining. "He was making shots, getting to the free throw line
and that's basically the tale of the game.''Dunleavy said, "Kobe
made a tough shot like he's done so many times before. We still had 3
seconds to get something off and we were looking for a 3-pointer. But
obviously it didn't pan out.''Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Bryant remained patient and determined down the stretch."He
went dry there (earlier) in the fourth quarter,'' Jackson said. "He had
some really good looks and wasn't hitting them, but he didn't get
frustrated."He stayed with it and made some plays for us down the stretch.''The
Lakers improved their home record to 19-2 and remained tied with
Cleveland for the best overall record in the league at 29-6. The
Cavaliers beat Boston 98-83 at home earlier Friday to improve their
home mark to 19-0.Troy Murphy had 24 points for Indiana and Dunleavy finished with 22.Pau Gasol had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, and Andrew Bynum had 20 points.The
game was tight all the way, but the Lakers never trailed after an 11-2
run that began with 4:06 remaining in the third quarter. Bryant had
nine points during that spurt, which gave Los Angeles a 96-84 lead
heading into the fourth.Gasol had 17 points and Bryant 14 during
the high-scoring first half, but Granger had 16 and Murphy 14 and the
Lakers were up just 68-66. No more than six points separated the teams
in the half, when there were 10 lead changes.Notes: The Pacers
beat the Lakers 118-117 on Dec. 2, winning on Murphy's tip-in at the
buzzer. "We beat them in Indiana on a last-second shot and they beat us
here with a shot at the end of the game,'' Granger said. "Luckily, we
don't see them for the rest of the year.'' ... Jackson isn't sure when
Lamar Odom, who has missed three consecutive games because of a bone
bruise in his right knee, will return. "You can't project on the
situation,'' Jackson said, adding that he hopes Odom will be back - and
at 100 percent - soon.

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