tampabay.com

Kobe excites again, only as needed

By wire services
Published January 29, 2006


LOS ANGELES - In the first game since his remarkable 81-point outburst, Kobe Bryant didn't score much - until he needed to.

Bryant turned it on late Friday night, scoring 25 of his 30 in the fourth period and overtime to rally the Lakers to a 106-105 victory over Golden State.

Bryant, whose 81 points against Toronto on Sunday were the second-most in NBA history to Wilt Chamberlain's 100 in 1962, said heading into the game against the Warriors that the only thing important to him was that the Lakers win.

He made sure they did.

Hesitant to shoot through three quarters, when he was 2-of-12 from the floor and Los Angeles fell behind 73-66, Bryant scored 16 in the fourth - including a pair of free throws to even it at 94 with 7.1 seconds left in regulation.

"They came out and they zoned up and they trapped and they doubled, and we just continued to move the ball," Bryant said. "It took me three quarters to kind of get the rhythm down on what they were trying to do defensively so I could go into attack mode in the fourth quarter."

He scored nine in overtime, including four free throws in the final 6.7 seconds to give Los Angeles just enough to withstand Mickael Pietrus' 3-pointer for Golden State at the buzzer.

"Kobe is always a factor in the game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "I don't think Golden State stopped him from scoring; he just got other guys involved in the offense. It was a game where Kobe did not have to force the issue until late."