Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 3)

Series starts 3/14

Game 1: Wednesday, March 14th
Game 2: Saturday, March 31st
Game 3: Monday, April 9th

Hornets 85

(13-39, 8-18 away)

Lakers 88

(32-20, 21-5 home)

    Coverage: NBATV

    3:30 PM ET, March 31, 2012

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    NO 14 25 28 1885
    LAL 20 23 18 2788

    Top Performers

    NO: J. Jack 18 Pts, 3 Reb, 10 Ast

    LAL: P. Gasol 21 Pts, 11 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Blk

    Kobe Bryant misses first 15 shots, sinks go-ahead 3-pointer to lift Lakers

    Associated Press

    LOS ANGELES -- As long as there's time left on the clock, Kobe Bryant can still work wonders even when he's having a horrible game.

    Bryant burnished his reputation as one of the NBA's greatest closers, hitting a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left after missing his first 15 shots, to help the Los Angeles Lakers hold off the last-place New Orleans Hornets 88-85 on Saturday.

    "There's always time to redeem himself," Jarrett Jack of the Hornets said. "Nobody's even going to talk about those first three quarters. They're going to talk about that last shot he made to put his team over the top."

    It was just the third field goal of the game for Bryant, who finished with 11 points on 3 of 21 shooting as the Lakers ended a two-game skid at home.

    "Kobe never gets down on himself," Andrew Bynum said.

    Pau Gasol had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Bynum added 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Ramon Sessions had 10 points and 10 assists for the Lakers.

    Bryant was 0 for 7 on 3-pointers before making his only one. He had five assists, three rebounds and four fouls in 39 minutes. He endured the worst start to a game in his career, having previously missed his first 13 shots against San Antonio on Dec. 28, 2010.

    "I'm stubborn. You have to have that kind of attitude, that kind of determination or stubbornness," Bryant said. "That's what gets teams over the hump to win multiple championships.

    "If I were to miss that shot, everybody would have killed me."

    Jack had 18 points and 10 assists playing with a sprained right ankle for the Hornets, but he missed a go-ahead bank shot with 4.9 seconds left.

    "I just played it off the glass wrong," he said. "I got to the spot I wanted and we got the matchup we wanted. I was expecting Bryant to come over as well. I just shot it off the glass a little too hard, but we got exactly to where we wanted to be."

    Jason Smith added 17 points and 10 rebounds, and former Clipper Al-Farouq Aminu had 10 points for the Hornets, who lost while playing their second straight game with just eight players available because of injuries. Trevor Ariza, Carl Landry, and Chris Kaman all sat out, while new father Gustavo Ayon and Emeka Okafor weren't with the team.

    "It's tough to go against the Lakers with only eight guys, but everybody on our team hung together," Smith said.

    The Lakers' anemic bench still got outscored by the Hornets' three reserves, 26-19. As a team, the Lakers went 32 of 77 from the floor, playing poorly for much of the game until being rescued by Bryant's late heroics.

    "New Orleans came out as the undermanned team and we took them lightly," Sessions said.

    The Lakers trailed 75-65 before he hit a 17-foot jumper over Marco Belinelli with 7:52 remaining for his first field goal.

    Bryant followed on the next possession with a fadeaway jumper and got fouled, making the free throw to get his team within seven after sitting out the first four minutes of the fourth.

    "Fatigue might have something to do with it," Bryant said of his struggles, "but I had good shots, good shots out of the rhythm of the offense, but none of them went down. You have to be patient and just focus on the last quarter and focus on getting some good shots."

    Bryant stepped to the line with 58 seconds left after Jack was called for a blocking foul. He made the first and missed the second, leaving the Lakers trailing 85-83 and the fans in agony. Their voices rose in a cheer when he finally made his first basket after groaning on his earlier misses.

    "I have a great team here and a lot of support and I really pushed myself defensively to get after the guys," Bryant said. "Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little bit of the offense and the stamina that you have to defend because that's what we believe is going to get us to a championship."

    Greivis Vasquez missed a 3-pointer with 31 seconds to go, setting up another signature closing moment by Bryant that Jack couldn't defend.

    "He hadn't been shooting the ball well all game, so I figured he would try to get to the basket, but he pulled up," Jack said. "I tried to contest it as best I could, but he hit a tough shot."

    Bryant was 0 for 7 in the first half, missing four 3-pointers while dishing out five assists.

    The Lakers opened the game on a 20-6 run before New Orleans scored the final eight points to trail 20-14. Steve Blake sparked the Lakers' bench with three 3-pointers in the second while Matt Barnes scored four in a row to extend their lead to 41-30. But the Hornets closed with a 9-2 run and trailed 43-39 at halftime.

    Game notes

    The Hornets have held 40 of their first 52 opponents under 100 points. ... Before the game, Bryant met with Lakers fan Allene Wynn of suburban Pacoima, fulfilling the 105-year-old woman's wish. She attended as a guest of the team and pulled no punches with Bryant, telling him, "You need to play better." ... The Lakers played their first non-holiday home game on a Saturday in the regular season since Jan. 17, 2004. ... The Lakers are 2-0 against the Hornets this season, having rallied from 17 points down on the road to win 107-101 in overtime earlier this month.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 85 88
    FGM-FGA 39-92 (.424) 32-77 (.416)
    3PM-3PA 2-10 (.200) 7-22 (.318)
    FTM-FTA 5-10 (.500) 17-22 (.773)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-47 12-47
    Assists 21 28
    Turnovers 8 15
    Steals 10 5
    Blocks 2 5
    Fast Break Points 13 12
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 11 (2/0)
    Largest Lead 10 14

    Top Performers

    New Orleans
    Los Angeles
    Jarrett Jack Jack
    Points: 18
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 10
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Pau Gasol Gasol
    Points: 21
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2

    Research Notes

    NEXT LEVEL: Kobe Bryant shot 14.3 percent from the field Saturday, the 3rd-worst in his career in a game where he had at least 10 field goal attempts.
    NEXT LEVEL: Bryant had eight open jump shots against New Orleans' zone defense and in transition, but missed all of them.
    NEXT LEVEL: Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining in the game Saturday. This is the sixth time in his career Bryant hit a 3-point shot to give the Lakers the lead when they were trailing with 24 seconds or less remaining in the fourth quarter or overtime.
    After his 3-for-21 performance Saturday, Kobe Bryant is shooting just 42.1 percent this season, his worst since he was a rookie in 1996-97. He's only shot below 45 percent in FIVE seasons -- his first two NBA seasons, the year AFTER he first averaged 30 PPG ('03-'04), his first season without Shaq ('04-'05) and this season. The Lakers won the NBA title in NONE of the previous 4 seasons that Kobe shot below 45 percent.
    According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last player to miss 15 consecutive field goal attempts at any point in a game was Andre Iguodala. He missed 16 straight for the 76ers on November 30, 2007 vs Washington. Kobe is the first player to miss 15 consecutive field goal attempts to start a game since Jason Kidd. He missed his first 15 field goal attempts for the Nets on January 21, 2002 at Dallas.
    Kobe Bryant missed his first 15 field goal attempts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the most consecutive field goals he has ever missed in a single game. His previous high was 13 in a loss at San Antonio on December 28, 2010. The most he had ever missed to start a game was 11 on November 19, 2004 in a loss at Phoenix.
    Kobe Bryant started the game 0-15 through 3 quarters. He went 3-6 in the 4th, including the game-winner to finish 3-21. The 14.3 percent from the floor is the 3rd worst in a game in his career with a minimum 20 attempts. It's the 5th time Kobe shot under 17% from the floor and the Lakers have won 3 of those games, including Saturday.
    Kobe Bryant is scoreless at halftime. This is just the 5th time in his career he's been scoreless at halftime. The last time it happened was January 13, 2010 at Dallas. The only other time in his career he didn't score in the first half AT HOME and played more than a minute was December 19, 2003 vs the Nuggets. He came off the bench that day to eventually score 13 points in 31 minutes.

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