Kobe sinks Pacers in final three secondsJan 10, 2009 - 7:47 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Regarded as one of the premier finishers in the league, Kobe Bryant again rose to the occasion.
Bryant hit the game-winning jumper with three seconds left to give the Los Angeles Lakers a 121-119 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday.
"That's what he does, that's the reason he's Kobe Bryant," Lakers center Andrew Bynum said. "Just give him the ball and clear out."
Bryant, who finished with 36 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds, backed down Jarrett Jack before drilling the shot.
"I didn't want to rush it, I knew I had a smaller guy on me so I wanted to take him down low a little bit and make the defense make a decision," Bryant said. "Either they're going to come (double-team) or they aren't going to come. If they don't come, I can shoot over the top."
Indiana called timeout to set up a final play, which went awry.
Mike Dunleavy inbounded the ball to Jeff Foster, who looked to get the ball back to Dunleavy but couldn't and wound up holding it as time ran out. Foster launched a futile shot after the game was over.
"We went for three and they shut it down," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "(Foster) was looking for all the 3-point options and tried to get it off, but it was just too late."
The win was a form of revenge for the Lakers, who lost on a last-second tip-in at Indiana on December 2.
"It was a tough one to get, we had to earn it," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said.
Nip and tuck throughout, neither team led by more than six points for three quarters before Bryant helped the Lakers gain some separation with an 11-2 run to close the third.
Bryant scored nine points in the spurt, including back-to-back jumpers, to turn a three-point cushion into a 96-84 advantage.
Indiana scored six quick points to start the fourth, which cut the deficit to six points. It would stay that way until Dunleavy finished a three-point play to make it 108-104 with 4:45 remaining. Dunleavy then nailed a 3-pointer on the next possession that made it a one-point contest.
After a miss by the Lakers, Dunleavy drove baseline but threw an errant pass that was picked off by Trevor Ariza, who was fouled by Danny Granger. Ariza hit both foul shots.
After Jack hit 1-of-2 from the line, Bryant hit a side jumper to make it 112-108.
With 1:22 left, Granger hit a pair of free throws to bring Indiana within 115-114. Bryant answered with a jumper to pop the lead to three.
The Pacers had an opportunity to tie things up with under a minute left, when Dunleavy was fouled on the way to the basket and Lakers forward Vladimir Radmanovic was hit with a technical while getting tangled up with Foster on the play. Jack would nail the technical freebie, but Dunleavy would split the pair to keep it 117-116.
Granger then picked up his sixth foul, a reach-in on Bryant, with 47 seconds left.
Bryant knocked down both free throws and the lead was 119-116. Dunleavy calmly drilled a shot from beyond the arc to tie the game and set the stage for Bryant.
"It felt good," Bryant said. "But I've had shots in the past - like the one in Miami - that felt good, but came in and came out. So, I made sure this one stayed down."
Granger scored 28 points for the Pacers, who are 0-13 in the Staples Center, including three losses in the 2000 NBA Finals. The Pacers' last road win in Los Angeles came February 14, 1999, when the Lakers played at the Great Western Forum.
"It's definitely defense," Jack said. "They shot (56) percent and, if you're playing against a team like this, you can't allow them to score that many points."
Dunleavy scored 22 points off the bench in his second game of the season after missing the opening two months while recovering from a right knee injury. He scored 14 against Phoenix on Wednesday.
Gasol recorded 21 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles. Bynum added 20 points.
LA LAKERS 121 FINAL
Jan 10 1:08 AM
LA LAKERS 96 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 10 12:26 AM
LA LAKERS 68 HALFTIME
Jan 9 11:40 PM
LA LAKERS 41 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 9 11:08 PM
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