for this game

Bryant's big performance not enough vs. Grizzlies

Mar 29, 2008 - 7:05 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Memphis Grizzlies couldn't stop Kobe Bryant. It turns out they didn't need to.

Rudy Gay scored 28 points as the Grizzlies were able to overcome Bryant's season-high 53 points to claim a 114-111 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

Los Angeles (49-24) missed an opportunity to move into a tie with the New Orleans Hornets (49-22) and San Antonio Spurs (50-23) the top spots in the Western Conference.

"It's not going anywhere, we're still, what? One game back, it's not dire straits," Bryant said. "We'll just move on from here, we got to buck up here."

Darko Milicic had 22 points and 12 rebounds and Mike Miller added 10 and 10 rebounds to help the Grizzlies send the Lakers to their third loss in four games.

"Road win, playoff team, Kobe going off, the crowd was in it, these are the things we played through," Gay said. "That's why I'm so proud of my teammates and so happy we got this win."

It was the sixth time this season that Bryant has scored at least 40 points and the 23rd time in his career he has reached the 50-point plateau. His previous high on the campaign was 52 against the Dallas Mavericks on March 2.

The 10-time All-Star made 19-of-37 shots from the field, including 9-of-17 from the arc - one shy of his franchise-record 18 3-pointers, which he hoisted up against the Seattle SuperSonics in 2003.

The Lakers did set a franchise record with 45 3-point attempts during the game - making 15 - breaking the previous mark of 44 set during a 147-141 overtime loss to the Washington Wizards in December 2006.

Bryant came out sizzling, scoring 23 of his team's 30 points in the first quarter en route to an NBA season high in points.

"We had an opportunity to knock down some shots, and I just took what the defense gave me," he said. "They were leaving me open, so I'm going to shoot."

Bryant's supporting cast was missing in action as only two other players reached double-figure scoring while the rest of the Lakers combined for just 58 points.

"Maybe, they're a little tired, they looked a little worn down," Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni said. "I know they've had a rough stretch and I think Kobe has been shouldering a lot of that. It's tough to ask him to do that for both halves. In that first half, he was incredible."

After three quarters, the Grizzlies held an 89-80 advantage, which slowly dwindled until the Lakers had gotten themselves to within 109-106 on Sasha Vujacic's 3-pointer with 3:09 left.

"A team like that, they're going to make runs," Gay said. "They are the type of team they are for a reason. Kobe is the type of player he is for a reason. He isn't going to let a team stomp on them like that."

Bryant had a chance to tie the score on the ensuing possession, but his shot from 3-point range bounced off the rim.

Vujacic hit another 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining to pull the Lakers within 111-109.

Following Memphis' turnover, Bryant drove the lane and passed to Lamar Odom in the corner after four players collapsed on the him. However, Odom's go-ahead three came up empty with 22 seconds left on the clock.

"It was a weird game, we wanted to win, and it was hard to finish like that," Vujacic said.

Lakers center Pau Gasol sat out for the eighth consecutive game with a sprained left ankle. He missed an opportunity to face the team he spent his first 6 1/2 seasons with for the first time since being traded to Los Angeles on February 1.

The Lakers were coming off one of their worst losses of the season, a 109-95 setback to the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday before this latest debacle.

"We haven't been playing well," Bryant said. "We (have) to right the ship and, on Sunday, we will."