Bryant sank a 20-footer as the horn sounded, capping a comeback from a 23-point fourth-quarter
deficit and giving the Los Angeles Lakers a 102-101 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
A running 50-footer by Brevin Knight finished a terrific third quarter and gave Memphis an 89-66
Los Angeles appeared in no hurry to get back in the game as it began the fourth quarter with rookie
guards Kareem Rush and Jannero Pargo on the floor and Bryant and fellow superstar Shaquille O'Neal
on the bench.
"In the fourth quarter, we just kind of threw reason to the wind and went out and played hard
defense and picked them up full-court with a smaller unit that was active and able to get some
pressure on them," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "They got the ballgame back in order so that the
starters could get back in eventually and make a run."
The youngsters helped halve the deficit before O'Neal and Bryant joined the rally. Two free throws
by O'Neal pulled the Lakers into a 100-100 tie with 26 seconds left, but Pau Gasol drew a foul and
split a pair from the line, giving the Grizzlies the lead with 3.3 seconds to go.
After a timeout, the Lakers inbounded to Bryant, who has become one of the best clutch shooters in
the game. He seemed to pause for a second before taking a dribble to the top of the circle and
firing a shot over Shane Battier that splashed through as the buzzer sounded.
"I knew by the way Shane was playing me that I'd be able to elevate off the one dribble and get a
good look at the basket," Bryant said. "So I had in my mind's eye what I was going to do."
"I told Kobe he could go to the basket if he wanted to," Jackson said. "In that amount of time, he
could catch and clear himself or drive it to the hoop. But he hadn't been getting calls when he'd
gone to the hoop, so I think he opted to do the right thing."
During their three-year reign as NBA champions, the Lakers have become comfortable in putting the
game in the hands of Bryant.
"We definitely know he's gonna get either a good shot or get fouled or get something out of the
play," Lakers guard Derek Fisher said. "So we did it again tonight."
"Kobe had the longest three seconds I've ever seen," Grizzlies center Lorenzen Wright said.
O'Neal continued to terrorize foes with 33 points and 19 rebounds. Bryant added 21 points on 7-of-
15 shooting. He scored 10 points in the last six minutes, destroying the defense of Battier.
"I did the best that I could and that is all I can ask of myself," Battier said. "It's hard to keep
a good player down for 48 minutes."
"I torch Shane every time I play against him," said Bryant, who once scored 56 points in three
quarters against the Grizzlies.
The Lakers (45-31) need one more win to clinch a playoff berth. They have won six of their last
seven games to move into a tie for sixth in the Western Conference with the Utah Jazz.
"Once the playoffs start and we find out who we are playing, we can focus on them and get our
playoff mentality," O'Neal said.
Gasol had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Jason Williams added 18 and 12 assists for the Grizzlies,
who have lost six in a row. They were swept by the Lakers in the four-game season series and fell
to 2-29 all-time against LA.
"This was a devastating loss," Memphis coach Hubie Brown said. "We played as well as we could have
For three quarters, the Grizzlies did. They withstood 22 first-half points by O'Neal to open a 56-
48 lead, then used a 19-4 surge to boost the advantage to 84-63 on a dunk by Gasol.
"In the middle of the third quarter, one of my assistants said, 'We've got to get some younger legs
in. We look awful old out there,'" Jackson said. "We looked like we were moving in mud."
But Knight's buzzer-beater did not keep the Grizzlies energized, as Rush and Pargo created with
their pressure defense. A 3-pointer by Pargo made it 94-82 with 6:26 to play, and Bryant scored
eight points in just over two minutes to cut the deficit to 97-92.
A steal and 3-pointer by Pargo made it a two-point game with 3:31 remaining. Williams split a pair
of free throws and O'Neal tied it with a three-point play with 1:39 left. Stromile Swift gave
Memphis a 100-98 lead with two free throws at the 1:23 mark, but O'Neal made a pair just under a