Lakers
Hornets
124 - 133 Final - 3OT
  for this game

Okafor, Bobcats overcome Bryant to outlast Lakers

Dec 30, 2006 - 7:22 AM CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- While Kobe Bryant was practically unstoppable, he ultimately cost the Los Angeles Lakers down the stretch.

Despite a season-high 58 points from Bryant, Emeka Okafor was able to dominate the paint and Matt Carroll scored a career-high 27 points off the bench as the Charlotte Bobcats outlasted the Lakers, 133-124, in a triple-overtime thriller.

Okafor had 22 points and a franchise-record 25 rebounds for the Bobcats, who picked up a victory in the first triple-overtime contest in club history in front of the largest crowd ever to see a game in Charlotte.

"We fought hard. It took us three (overtimes), but we got it done," Okafor said. "It feels nice, especially when you spent the whole night trying to get it done. I just did whatever it took to get it done, whether it was rebounds or points."

Bryant shot 22-of-45 from the field and 10-of-12 from the line to record the second-highest scoring game in the NBA this season. Washington guard Gilbert Arenas scored 60 points vs. the Lakers on December 17.

However, Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson thought his team deferred to Bryant too much.

"I was yelling at them to run their offense and get away from Kobe, but they just seemed to be going back to him all the time," Jackson said. "When we were tried to go away from him, we were successful and good things happened."

Last season, Bryant scored a franchise-record 81 points vs. Toronto and 62 against Dallas. On Friday, he notched his third 50-point game of 2006-07.

Bryant scored 53 vs. Houston on December 15 and 52 against Utah on November 30, but he claims he would much rather play within the team concept.

"I'd much rather not (have to carry the team)," Bryant said. "It's too tiring, but sometimes you've got to do what you got to do to keep your team in the game and get a win. Hopefully, the next game will be a little bit different."

However, in the third extra session, Bryant committed one of the cardinal sins of defense. With his team trailing by two points with 1:14 left, he fouled reserve Derek Anderson, who was attempting a 3-pointer. Anderson nailed all three foul shots to make it 129-124, and Los Angeles was unable to get any closer.

On the ensuing possession, Bryant fouled out of the game, committing a charge on a wild drive to the basket but leaving with the third-highest scoring game of his career.

"Silly, silly calls, but you've got to try and overcome that," Bryant said. "Sometimes calls go your way and sometimes they don't. That's all I can say, and I really don't want to be ($20,000) lighter."

Anderson also took the charge on Bryant.

"I got the three-point foul earlier, so you just go out there and keep playing hard. You never know what's going to happen," Anderson said. "We learned a whole lot. It gives you confidence, and in this league, confidence is what makes you good."

With the game tied in the second overtime, Raymond Felton nailed a 3-pointer to make it 120-117 with 36 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Bryant answered with his own shot from the arc to again knot it with 21 seconds left. Bryant had nine points in the second extra session.

"We really make it hard. We just aren't aware of the time and score, like on that last shot when we were up by three," Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "We pulled out on Kobe and he hit the 3-pointer to tie it up. When you get tired, you take shortcuts, but we had the fortitude to stay in there. Kobe is a lot to deal with."

Okafor shot 10-of-15 from the floor. Gerald Wallace added 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting for the Bobcats, who shot just 42 percent (47-of-112).

Both teams had multiple chances to seal the victory both at the end of regulation and the first overtime. Bryant missed a jumper as time expired in the fourth quarter, while Felton missed twice at the end of the first extra session.








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