With the game appearing out of reach, the Lakers depended on one rare source of stability.
The Lakers’ 101-100 victory Tuesday over the Charlotte Bobcats hardly looked pretty. The Lakers trailed as many as 18 points. The Bobcats’ 40 percent mark from the field represented more missed shots than disciplined defense. The Lakers high-paced offense came to a screeching halt with 39.8 percent shooting and eight fast-break points.
But Dwight Howard’s game-securing block on Kemba Walker on the final possession aside, it was Bryant who once again saved the day. His team-leading 30 points on 11 of 24 shooting and seven assists marked his seventh consecutive game where he posted at least 30 points, the first time any NBA player has performed such a feat at age 34.
“I’m just hoping this whole Benjamin Button thing doesn’t wear off,” Bryant said, alluding to the fictional character who gets younger as time passes.
That day might come. Bryant logged 43 minutes in that game, marking the seventh consecutive game he’s played at least 40 minutes.
“I’m not tired,” Bryant said. “I don’t know what to tell you. I jammed my foot a little bit. That stopped me from being aggressive in going to the rim in a little bit. But stamina-wise, I’m fine.”
That paid off in various ways against Charlotte.
Bryant split a pair of defenders for an open layup to give the Lakers a 99-97 lead with 1:26 left. On the next possession, Bryant sank a 19-foot jumper to extend the cushion to 101-97 with 52.2 seconds remaining. Bryant became directly involved in eight of the Lakers’ 10 fourth-quarter field goals, including 10 fourth-quarter points and three assists.
Bryant and the Lakers now can enjoy the day off today.
“I just feel good,” Bryant said. “I’m in a good rhythm. I’m still doing what I’m doing really, going out there and playing. I’m being aggressive while still trying to keep everybody involved.”
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