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Bryant's 50 points helps Lakers clinch postseason berth

Apr 16, 2007 - 6:34 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Superstar Kobe Bryant would not let the window shut.

Bryant registered his 10th game of the season with at least 50 points as the Los Angeles Lakers clinched its second straight playoff berth with a 109-98 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.

The reigning scoring champion, Bryant connected on 18-of-25 shots, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range, and made 11-of-13 free throws en route to posting his 21st career 50-point outburst.

"We needed this type of game right now, you know, for us and focusing, kind of take care of business while we can," Bryant said.

"I mean (Kobe's) an unbelievable player," Seattle forward Rashard Lewis said. "It's God's gift, something that is probably going to flash before our eyes, and I don't think it'll ever happen again. The only person I can think about that he's catching up with is Michael Jordan."

Bryant now was the third-highest 50-point games in league history behind Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain's 45 set during 1961-62 campaign.

In 17 years on the bench in the NBA, Los Angeles Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson has never missed the postseason. The Lakers (41-40) entered losing eight of their last 10 games and looked like they were going to let this one slip away after having a 19-point lead cut to one in the fourth quarter.

The SuperSonics made things interesting when Mike Wilks scored on a driving layup over Smush Parker to close within 87-86 with 7:58 remaining.

However, Bryant netted eight points during an impressive 14-3 surge, capped by Lamar Odom's one-handed jam from Luke Walton at the 2:45 mark to create a 101-89 cushion.

"(Bryant) was just determined," Sonics coach Bob Hill said. "He's special."

"We weren't playing too well and it was a concern," Odom said. "The concern is over. Hopefully the next game we can play a little better than we did."

Lakers rookie guard Jordan Farmar scored nine points in his first career start.

"We'll see how it goes from here but I felt good, I think I played good basketball, made some good decisions, made some shots," Farmar said. "Shots I missed felt good, you know, so that's always a good feeling to have."

"We had some things not going right for us and I thought it was time to make a change and it seemed the change helped us out," Jackson said. "I think that Jordan did a nice job. I think he handled the ball well and looked to do things that we would like him to do."

Rashard Lewis had 24 points and nine rebounds and Chris Wilcox added 20 and 10 for Seattle, which shot 48 percent (36-of-74) and made 9-of-18 shots from the arc.

In the third quarter, Bryant picked up his 13th technical of the season - just three shy of receiving an automatic one-game suspension.

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