NEW YORK — The elbow in his right arm stays sore, but that didn’t prevent Kobe Bryant from putting it in danger. He’s 34 years old in his 17th season, but that didn’t stop Bryant from turning back the clock. Bryant played in an away arena at the Barclays Center, but that didn’t inhibit the crowd from sounding what he called “electric” over his theatrics.
Bryant scanned the court as the shot clock wound down. Brooklyn’s Gerald Wallace guarded him tightly. But as Bryant always does, he saw an opening. So he charged into the lane. Bryant jumped up in the air. Even with Wallace and Kris Humphries trying to block him, Bryant still surpassed them both.
He slammed the ball in, igniting the Nets crowd that cheered for him and sparking his Lakers teammates that needed him. The play represented a key run that led to the Lakers’ 92-83 victory Tuesday over the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. The play also became the top topic discussed afterwards.
“I was pretty shocked the lane was so wide open,” Bryant said. “I think that everybody’s been drinking the “Kobe Pass” Kool-Aid so everybody has stayed on the perimeter with the shooters. It was like the parting of the Red Sea. I felt like Moses.”
Either way, it still seemed liberating.
Bryant’s dunk helped the Lakers move on past the anguish surrounding Pau Gasol leaving the game with 3:51 remaining because of his strained plantar fasciitis in his right foot. The play also sparked the Lakers to go on a 12-3 run to close the game.
“It pumped us man,” Lakers forward Earl Clark said. “As old as he is, he’s still there dunking on people. It was great.”
Bryant’s dunk also answered whether the elbow tendinitis in his right elbow will significantly hurt his play. He may have scored 21 points on only 9 of 24 shooting. But it didn’t temper his aggressiveness even if the dunk made his elbow hurt afterwards.
“After a play like that, you can’t grab your arm,” Bryant said. “That messes up the swag of the moment. You have to suck it up for a while.”
On a night that the Lakers are hobbled without Dwight Howard (shoulder) and Gasol (right foot), Bryant proved just that.
“That dunk was pretty awesome,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I don’t know how hurt he is. I’m sure he’s pretty banged up.A lot of guys are. He’ll play through it. He’ll get his rhythm.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org