Bryant Helps Lakers Edge Past Celtics
BOSTON - At times, Kobe Bryant could barely draw iron because of a sore left ankle.
When it counted most, however, the hobbled Los Angeles Lakers superstar faced up in the lane to hit nothing but net with 7.3 seconds left to steal one from the Boston Celtics in a 90-89 win Sunday.
It was a playoff atmosphere in the season's first meeting between the last two NBA champions. The Lakers shut out the Celtics in the paint in the fourth quarter to help erase a 10-point deficit and set the stage for Bryant, who made 8 of 20 shots (40 percent).
"I didn't say, 'Give me one more chance.' I said, 'Give me the damn ball,' " Bryant said of his conversation with coach Phil Jackson before his winning shot.
The Lakers won their fourth in a row on this eight-game, 13-day road trip. The final game is today against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Celtics (29-16) have lost three in a row by a combined 12 points and fallen to fourth place in the Eastern Conference. "We've lost ground in this race. . . . But we're a fighting team that's going to get back in it," Boston's Kevin Garnett said.
Bryant and center Andrew Bynum each scored 19 points, with Bynum adding 11 rebounds. Pau Gasol had 11 points and 11 rebounds, giving the big men double-doubles for the second time in three games - and the only times together this season.
The Lakers (37-11) are one game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose season sweep of the West leaders included a 93-87 win to begin Los Angeles' trip. The Lakers need consistent play from Bynum and Gasol against teams such as Cleveland and Boston.
"We're a mentally tough team," Bryant said after getting his ankle worked on after the win. "Physically, we need to step up to the challenge."