Bryant’s 28 leads Lakers past Hawks for 2nd win
For Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, it was a rare chance to celebrate.
They didn’t pass it up.
Bryant scored 28 points and the Lakers held on for just their second win, beating the Atlanta Hawks, 114-109, on Tuesday night.
A locker room that has been solemn most of the season was a lot more raucous this time.
“Man, oh man, that’s a lot better,” said Jeremy Lin. “It’s been a rough start to the season.”
Bryant’s biggest shot came with 1:11 remaining, when he backed in against Thabo Sefolosha and made a fadeaway jumper despite being fouled.
Bryant slapped hands with a fan in the front row and completed the 3-point play, giving the Lakers a 108-102 lead.
“It’s been tough,” Bryant said. “But you find beauty in the process.”
The Hawks had a chance to force overtime after the Lakers (2-9) failed to put it away at the line. But Los Angeles smothered long-range threat Kyle Korver, leaving Pero Antic to take an open 3-pointer. It clanked off the rim and the Lakers gobbled up the loose ball to seal the victory.
Paul Millsap led Atlanta with 29 points.
Carlos Boozer added 20 points for the Lakers. Nick Young, coming back from a thumb injury, had 17 in his first game of the season.
Jeff Teague scored 23 for the Hawks, who lost for the first time at home.
In the first half, the Lakers hardly looked like a team that had lost nine of its first 10 games, putting up a season high for points in a half while racing to a 67-52 lead.
Bryant scored 19 points and Boozer chipped in with 18 as Los Angeles shot 61 percent (27 of 44) and outrebounded the Hawks 22-15.
“Games are not won in the first quarter,” Korver said. “But they can be lost in the first quarter. We’ve got to do better at the start of the game. We’ve got to bring more energy, bring more juice.”
The Hawks started the second half with a 13-0 run but never made it all the way back from the early deficit. Down the stretch, the Lakers made enough plays to snap a four-game losing streak.
Even after Bryant missed a wild one from the corner, Jordan Hill snatched away the offensive rebound and laid it back in to put Los Angeles ahead 111-106 with 17.7 seconds remaining.
The only thing that gave Atlanta hope was the Lakers’ woes at the foul line. They missed three of five at one point in the closing seconds.
But Antic, left alone outside the arc, couldn’t make the tying 3.
“It’s basically an easy shot,” he said. “I usually make that shot.”
After missing the first 10 games while recovering from a torn ligament in his left thumb, Young provided the spark the Lakers so desperately needed. “It’s just like the swagger factor,” Young quipped. “It just rubs off on everybody.”
Bryant now had 32,001 points. He’s fourth in the career standings, with Michael Jordan (32,292) next in his sights. “It’s a lot of work over 19 years,” Bryant said. AP