for this game

Bryant comes through for Lakers in win over Grizzlies

Dec 23, 2008 - 5:19 AM By Jason Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant poured in a game-high 36 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 34 seconds remaining, to help the Los Angeles Lakers snap a season-long two-game losing streak with a 105-96 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday.

With the game knotted, 96-96, Bryant knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key following a Pau Gasol offensive rebound and assist to put the visiting Lakers ahead to stay.

"It felt good for that ball to go down," Bryant said. "A couple times near the end of the game it came out, so it felt good for it to go in.

"But one of the things that we have to understand when we play young teams is that they are going to be so psyched to play against us. The building is going to be sold out and they're going to be rocking and rolling. We're going to get their best, and sometimes, we'll have games like this."

Gasol, appearing in his first game in Memphis since being traded to Los Angeles last February, finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Rudy Gay's 23 points led Memphis, which had led, 91-85, with 4:01 left in the fourth.

"At the end of the game, Kobe made a big shot and we never really responded from that," Gay said. "I think we took a stride (forward), but then again, you can't be happy with a loss."

Bryant had missed a chance to tie the game up at the 5:58 mark of the fourth, when he failed to convert a free throw on a potential three-point play to leave the Lakers trailing 86-85.

"I think there is something to be said for the fact that they are still learning to play together," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of Memphis.

Darko Milicic's two-handed slam with 3:30 left gave Memphis a 93-88 advantage, but Bryant answered with a pair of free throws and Lamar Odom threw down a fastbreak dunk on a feed from Trevor Ariza to make it, 93-92.

Bryant's turnaround jumper in the post with 2:09 left gave the Lakers their first lead since late in the third quarter before the All-Star guard finished Memphis off with his 3-pointer with 34 seconds left.

"Kobe's one of the top players in the league, a very, very good player on both ends of the floor," Memphis rookie guard O.J. Mayo said. "I think it's a good measure of your progress, going against a player like that."

Mayo added 22 points and six assists for Memphis, which finished 45.5 percent (35-of-77) from the field overall to the Lakers' 54 percent (40-of-74). The loss was Memphis' sixth to the Lakers in the last 15 meetings between the teams.

Gasol scored seven first-quarter points for the Lakers, who, despite shooting 58 percent from the field in the opening stanza, trailed by two points late in the period before Bryant's layup with eight-tenths of a second remaining made it 25-25.

Gasol, who took six of Los Angeles' first eight shots, received a chorus of boos from the home crowd following his first bucket, a 17-footer early in the first quarter that gave the Lakers an early 4-2 lead.

"It was weird at first to be on the floor as an opponent on that other side of the bench," said Gasol, whose younger brother, Marc Gasol, finished with eight points and seven rebounds for Memphis. "They played really well, especially in the first half."

Mayo's 3-pointer over Bryant with 2:54 left in the second quarter gave Memphis a 50-43 second-quarter advantage before Bryant answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to pull L.A. to 50-49.

But Gay, who had 16 first-half points on 7-of-11 shooting, scored five of Memphis' final seven points over the final 1:26 of the second quarter to help give the Grizzlies a 57-49 lead at halftime.

"We battled for 3 1/2 quarters," Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said. "Unfortunately, 3 1/2 quarters isn't enough to beat the Lakers. We didn't play very well down the stretch."