Bryant, Odom rally Lakers past Warriors
OAKLAND – Kobe Bryant had all of about six minutes left when he decided to finally take over. For him, it was plenty of time.
Bryant scored 17 of his 39 points in the final 5:49 and the sluggish Los Angeles Lakers rallied late to beat the Golden State Warriors 115-110 on Wednesday night for their sixth straight victory.
“It don’t matter who’s on me. When it’s go time, it’s go time,” Bryant said. “You have the responsibility to come through for your team and make the right play. Tonight, I did that.”
Bryant also assisted on Ron Artest’s crucial 3-pointer with 1:55 to play. Lamar Odom did his part to fuel the comeback, too, scoring 10 straight points during a key fourth-quarter stretch on the way to 20 points and nine rebounds.
Pau Gasol added 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who looked uncharacteristically out of sync for much of the game before turning it on when it mattered for their 12th consecutive win over the Warriors and sixth straight in Oakland.
Golden State’s Monta Ellis scored 38 for his 10th 30-point game of the season after missing the two previous days of practice with the flu. But the Warriors couldn’t hold an early 14-point lead against the defending NBA champions.
Andrew Bynum had 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, who played through loud chants of “Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!” in the waning moments from the sellout crowd of 19,596 at Oracle Arena. Los Angeles pulled out some defensive stops late after trading baskets with the Warriors for much of the final quarter.
Still, the Lakers received quite a push a night after a 112-57 rout of Cleveland in the franchise’s best defensive performance of the shot clock era – a game in which the Los Angeles starters had to play just more than a half.
“We controlled the game better in the second half,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “We stopped turning the ball over quite as often and we had a better choice of shots and exploited Pau. Kobe finished up the game for us.”
Bryant shot 13 for 21, made all 11 of his free-throw tries, had six rebounds, four assists and three steals as the Lakers improved to 7-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season – with only seven more on their schedule, five fewer than they played last season in winning it all.
Dorell Wright added 27 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocked shots for the Warriors. They nearly pulled off the upset while kicking off a stretch with 13 of 14 games at Oracle Arena.
“I had to dig deep and gut it out,” said Ellis, already exhausted by halftime. “If I wake up in the morning and God gives me the strength to come out and play, I’m going to do that. This is a big stretch for us at home, a chance to turn it around.”
Ellis clanked in a shot under pressure as the third quarter expired, giving Golden State a 75-69 edge. Bryant, who came in with a 26.6 career scoring average against the Warriors in 53 total games and 44 starts, took charge. His outburst started on a go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:49 left to put the Lakers up 90-89.
“He always has that look. Nine times out of 10 he’s successful,” Artest said. “Actually, it’s like 9.5 times out of 10 he’s successful.”
Ellis often had an answer. He showed no effects of the bug that kept him out of practice the previous two days and required an IV on Monday for dehydration. He has started all 38 games for Golden State and went 15 for 26 with four 3s.
“Just two players trying to get a win. I’ve known for the last three years I’m going to guard him,” Ellis said of the matchup with Bryant. “It was a great test for us. We gave it our all.”
Ellis made six of his first eight field-goal tries to reach 18 points early in the second quarter. He posted his 11th 20-point half of the season, tied with Bryant for most in the league this year.
Artest hit a tying 3-pointer 5:10 before halftime, but the Warriors outscored the Lakers 8-0 the rest of the way for a 53-45 halftime lead. Artest dished out seven assists on the night and had 10 points.
Andris Biedrins, Golden State’s 7-foot center, was held to two points and fouled out in 25 minutes in his fourth game back after missing nine contests with a sprained left ankle. He had taken only four shots in his first three games back, then attempted two Wednesday. Biedrins is eager to get on track after he was limited to only 33 games last season because of injuries.
Golden State hasn’t beaten the Lakers since March 23, 2008.
Notes: New Warriors owner Joe Lacob celebrated his birthday courtside, presented with a cake by one of the Warrior Girls. … The Lakers play the fewest back-to-backs of any NBA team this season and it’s their lowest number of consecutive nights since also having 15 in their first NBA season of 1948-49. … Los Angeles and Golden State meet one more time in the regular season on April 6, with the Lakers looking to sweep the season series for the fifth time in six years. They haven’t dropped the season series with the Warriors since 1994-95 (2-3). … The Lakers are 6-1 this month. … The Warriors are 9-15 vs. the Western Conference. … Golden State sold out for the fourth time this season.