The Black Mamba still has a little venom left in him.
Kobe Bryant came into Saturday’s game averaging 28 points per game against the Charlotte franchise (the highest against any team in the League). And he certainly didn’t disappoint as he scored 21 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to an 88-85 win over the host Charlotte Bobcats.
With 37 seconds remaining in the game, Kobe pump faked Gerald Henderson and drew the foul. He nailed a pair of free throws to give the Lakers the lead, 86-85.
“You always miss those moments, especially on the road,” Bryant told Time Warner Cable SportsNet’s Jon Ireland after the game.
Pau Gasol added a couple free throws with 6.2 seconds left when he was intentionally fouled after Al Jefferson missed a close shot at the basket. L.A. outscored Charlotte, 24-17 in the fourth quarter.
Bryant dished out eight assists, grabbed seven rebounds but he also had seven turnovers as the primary ballhandler with Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar all out nursing various injuries.
“I think he (Kobe) improved a little bit,” Mike D’Antoni said to Time Warner Cable SportsNet. “His shot looked a little better. He just has to work through it, we don’t have a playmaker, a point guard right now. We just have to get through it.”
The defense was a lot better than Friday night’s 122-97 blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“No disrespect, but they aren’t as good as our opponent last night,” Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We played harder, we played better and we were more aggressive on defense.”
“We were active (on defense), ” Bryant said. “They (Charlotte) made some tough shots.”
Nick Young hit a big 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 85-82 with a little over two minutes to play in the game. And Kobe followed that up with a 3-footer to make it 85-84.
It was the first win for the Lakers since Bryant has returned from his Achilles injury as they improved to 1-3 with their future hall-of-famer. “I feel a lot stronger (regarding his Achilles), it didn’t feel sore tonight,” Bryant said. “I’m feeling pretty good.”
Gasol struggled again shooting the ball, he made just six of 18 field goals and scored 15 points but he had seven rebounds and blocked four shots, Jordan Hill added 15 points and nine rebounds, and Nick Young scored 13 points off the bench.
Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 24 points (on 10-of-13 shooting) and eight assists and Al Jefferson added 14 points and nine rebounds.
L.A. improved to 11-12 overall while Charlotte dropped to 10-14.
Darren Jacks is a regular contributor to OneManFastBreak.net. Follow him on Twitter @djroxalot.