He did it again. Yet another buzzer-beater for Bryant. It wasn't as impressive as his jumping left bank three-pointer against the Heat but this one is about as picture perfect as you can get. With 4.1 seconds remaining and the Lakers trailing the Kings by two, the inbounds went to Pau Gasol at the top of the three-point line who hit Bryant in the left corner after he got separation from Sergio Rodriguez. Bryant caught it, set his feet just centimeters away from out of bounds and fired, releasing the ball with less than a tenth of a second remaining on the clock and of course he nailed it. Bryant finished with 39 points as the Lakers stun the Kings, 109-108.
Yet again, the Lakers came out flat in the first half before recovering in the second. Here are the ugly first half numbers: The Kings shot 70% in the second quarter, 63% in the first half, they had 20 assists on 27 field goals, and Bryant and Derek Fisher were a combined four for 21. The Lakers trailed by as many as 20 points and trailed by 15 at intermission.
To the Kings credit they were passing the ball well and running out in transition. It's a team full of shooters from the guards to center Spencer Hawes. Just about everyone on that roster can shoot the three. The Kings finished hitting 10 of 19 from distance including four of five for the seven-footer Hawes who finished with a career-high 30 points. But the Lakers continued their trend of playing awful defense. They're too slow on switches and allowing really easy looks.
But in the second half they came to life and continued to chip into the deficit. They were a bit more aggressive on defense and Kobe came to life on offense. He had 16 points in the third quarter and 11 in the fourth including the game-winner that should have never been. The Kings had the ball up two points with under six seconds to go when the Lakers were forced to foul Ime Udoka. Udoka, a 79% free throw shooter missed both shots and that gave Bryant the opportunity to win it.
Lamar Odom had a season-high 20 points and added 10 rebounds. The Lakers are hurting without Artest but if this is what it takes to get Odom going than that trip down the stairs good be a good thing.
Game Notes: Andrew Bynum looks like he's getting better. He finished seven for 12 for 16 points. He only managed to grab four rebounds but he seems to be coming along following some knee pain and respiratory issues.