Kobe Bryant clutch in Lakers win over Bobcats

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first_img“Just feeling more comfortable in my legs,” said Bryant, who played a season-high 32 minutes. “My pull-up jumper is my shot, I can get that shot off any time, it’s just a matter of getting comfortable and being able to take that shot. It takes a lot of energy, the pull-up, and I haven’t been ready for it the first three games. Legs felt pretty good tonight, though.”Not everything went according to plan.The Lakers’ 15 turnovers mostly featured Bryant (seven) and Gasol (six) bobbling the ball. “I gave him a little bit of a hard time in the locker room,” Bryant said of Gasol. “I can’t throw him the ball if he ain’t got no thumbs.”The Lakers’ bench also shot a combined 6 of 25 from the field, though Nick Young’s 13 points featured him making a pair of free throws and canning an open 3-pointers to cut the Bobcats’ lead to 85-82 with 2:32 remaining. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni also credited the defense from reserves Robert Sacre and Jordan Hill. But everything reverted back to Bryant and Gasol, who helped the Lakers (11-12) hold the Bobcats scoreless for the final two minutes, 50 seconds.“I tried to stick with it until the very end,” said Gasol, whose 15 points came on only 6-of-18 shooting. “Whatever you’ve done in the previous plays, it’s out of the way. You have to stay positive and make it up.”Bryant and Gasol once teamed up for two NBA championships, so beating up on the Bobcats (10-14) on the second night of a back-to-back hardly seems noteworthy. But with the Lakers earning their first win since Bryant’s return, his mindset hasn’t changed. “I want to win a championship,” Bryant said. “I want to be playing in June. Obviously, we have some improvements to make whether it‘s with the guys we have in the locker room or whatever management wants to do. I have no idea about that, but it’s not my job to focus on that. It’s our job to focus on what we have and making sure we’re making the necessary improvements every day to get there.”The Lakers currently rank 12th in the Western Conference, a far cry from the benchmark Bryant has set. Yet, he outlined how the Lakers can become championship caliber.“Playing the right way, changing sides of the floor, moving the ball, playing for each other, making each other better,” Bryant said. “Not playing to head hunt your own shot, playing to get an open opportunity for your teammate. And if we can do that, I think we make the game a lot easier.”It was hardly easy against the Bobcats. But with his body allowing him, Bryant delivered with the most accurate depiction of his former self yet. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Each time Kobe Bryant steps on the floor, another layer of rustiness sheds off and allows him to showcase another skill he once had.In his fourth game since injuring his left Achilles tendon eight months ago, Bryant didn’t just morph back into a scorer. Bryant also rediscovered his clutch gene by hitting a pair of free throws that clinched the Lakers’ 88-85 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday at Time Warner Cable Arena. Bryant posted a near triple-double with 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting, eight assists and seven rebounds, marking his first game since he returned that the Lakers’ star actively looked for his shot. More importantly, Bryant secured the victory late in the game that snapped the Lakers’ three-game losing streak and improved their road record to 5-5. Both Bryant and Pau Gasol closed the game out on a pair of free throws. They then made defensive stops. Bryant closed out on Ben Gordon’s missed 26-foot 3-pointer, while Gasol stopped Al Jefferson on consecutive possessions. That included blocking Jefferson’s putback on the final play.last_img

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