Kobe hits winner in return, 99-98
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hitting a game-winning shot never gets old for Kobe Bryant.
"Every time it feels like the first time," he said.
Bryant returned to lineup after missing five games with an ankle injury and made a 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left to lift the Los Angeles Lakers to a 99-98 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies last night.
Bryant led the Lakers with 32 points, including his team's final nine points. His 3-pointer with 54 seconds left tied the game at 96. His game-winner came off an inbounds play 4 seconds after his layup attempt was blocked by Rudy Gay.
"He kept making plays at the end of the game," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said of Bryant. "Great players make great plays. You've got to give him his due (but) it hurts."
Bryant's late scoring spree came after the Lakers had missed five straight free throws and trailed, 95-90, with 2:59 left. He began his nine-point run with a jumper from the left wing with 2:23 to go to trim the Memphis lead to 95-92.
After Gay's free throw, Bryant dropped in a technical free throw to make it 96-93. Gay scored again with 40 seconds left to up the Grizzlies lead to 98-93 before Bryant's back-to-back 3-pointers won it for the Lakers.
"Only in Hollywood, I guess," Bryant said. "It's fun. It's my responsibility to make plays down the stretch. I enjoy it."
Pau Gasol added 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers, who won for the seventh time in their last eight road games.
"Nobody in the world is shocked anymore by what Kobe Bryant does and what he brings to the team," Gasol said. "He really stepped up at the end. It feels good to have him back."
The Grizzlies, who lost their fifth straight home game, were led by O.J. Mayo's 25 points. Zach Randolph scored 20 and grabbed 14 rebounds, his seventh straight double-double.
Mayo's two missed free throws with 18.8 seconds left allowed the Lakers an opportunity to complete a comeback from nine points down early in the fourth quarter. Had Mayo made his free throws, the Grizzlies would have led by four.
"I'd love to take those last two free throws again," Mayo said. "I'd love to take them and make them."
Mayo had a last-second opportunity to win it for the Grizzlies, but his long jumper bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
CAVALIERS 105, HORNETS 95
CLEVELAND — LeBron James had 20 points and 12 assists, and Antawn Jamison added 18 points in his first start for his new team as Cleveland beat New Orleans to snap a three-game losing streak.
The Hornets' Marcus Thornton scored a career-high 37 points off the bench, including a franchise-record 23 points in the second quarter, and fellow rookie Darren Collison added 22 points.
SUNS 104, THUNDER 102
OKLAHOMA CITY — Jason Richardson connected on a floater from the foul line with 0.7 seconds left to complete Phoenix's rally from a 10-point deficit in ending Oklahoma City's nine-game winning streak.
Amare Stoudemire scored 30 points and Richardson had his first double-double of the season with 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Suns, who were down 10 with 3 1/2 minutes to play.
CELTICS 110, KNICKS 106
BOSTON — Rajon Rondo scored 15 points and had 16 assists to lead Boston over New York.
Ray Allen added 24 points, Kevin Garnett 16, Marquis Daniels 14 and Kendrick Perkins 12 as Boston sent New York to its eighth straight loss. The Celtics were without forward Paul Pierce, who was home with the flu.
TIMBERWOLVES 91, HEAT 88
MIAMI — Kevin Love had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Minnesota took advantage of Dwyane Wade's absence for a rare road victory over Miami.
Miami played its third straight game without Wade, the All-Star MVP, and starting point guard Rafer Alston. Wade is listed as day-to-day with a strained left calf, while Alston is dealing with a bruised hand.
TRAIL BLAZERS 102, NETS 93
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Brandon Roy scored 10 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and Portland avoided blowing a big lead for a second straight game by holding off New Jersey.
LaMarcus Aldridge added 27 points and Andre Miller had 20 as the Trail Blazers overcame an ankle injury to recently acquired center Marcus Camby in snapping a two-game losing streak and winning for only the sixth time in 14 games.
PISTONS 101, KINGS 89
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Richard Hamilton scored 30 points and Detroit pulled away in the third quarter to hand struggling Sacramento its fifth straight loss.
After taking a 12-point lead at the half, Hamilton keyed a third-quarter effort that hiked the Pistons' advantage to 30 at one point. Hamilton scored the first eight points of the quarter and finished the period with 14 as the Pistons took an 83-58 lead into the fourth.
76ERS 110, WARRIORS 102
OAKLAND, Calif. — Lou Williams scored 26 points, including a 3-pointer with 14.5 seconds left, and Andre Iguodala added 22 points and seven assists as Philadelphia held off a late charge by Golden State.
Williams matched his career high with five 3-pointers and had 10 rebounds and seven assists to help the Sixers win their first game since guard Allen Iverson took an indefinite leave of absence to be with his ill daughter.
The Warriors had closed to 105-102 on Anthony Morrow's 3-pointer with 39.1 seconds to play, before Williams hit his fifth 3-pointer.