Kobe Bryant drew up the play to perfection and Andrew Bynum threw it down.
Bryant scored 26 points, including the go—ahead jumper in the final minute and Bynum hit a key hook shot with 15.7 seconds left Sunday, rallying the LA Lakers past the visiting Boston Celtics 97—94.
“We love beating this team,” Bynum said after the Lakers knocked off their long—time nemesis for the third straight time.
Bynum finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds while Spaniard Pau Gasol added 13 points with 13 boards for the Lakers (25—16), who closed on an 8—0 run to improve to 18—2 at Staples Center.
“It was great the way we reacted the way and controlled the game at the end,” Gasol said. “We made great plays offensively and came up with some good stops.” After blowing an early 15—point cushion, the Lakers trailed 94—89 following a pair of free throws by Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen’s three—pointer with two minutes forty one seconds remaining. But they would rally.
Bryant sparked the game—ending spurt with jumper and sent a lob pass to Bynum for a layup to pull the Lakers within 94—93 with one minute 17 seconds left.
After Allen’s missed three—pointer, Bryant bounced in a jumper from the left wing to put the Lakers up 95—94 with 41.7 seconds remaining.
Expecting the Celtics to throw a double team at arguably the game’s greatest closer, Bryant decided to turn decoy in the huddle during a timeout, setting up a play for Bynum.
Bryant then watched from the top of the key as Metta World Peace threw an entry pass to Bynum, who backed down Kevin Garnett before spinning around to drop in a right—handed hook in the lane, making it 97—94.
“Kobe trusts me,” Bynum said. “He designed that play for me down low. He said they’re not going to know what to do and it definitely worked.” “Andrew has improved so much,” Bryant said of his All—Star teammate. “I felt like if you’re going to trust him in that situation then throw the ball to him and let him go to work. They had a hard time dealing with him all game.” With 15 seconds left, the Celtics couldn’t get the ball into long—distance specialist Allen, who was smothered by Gasol. After Bryant blocked Paul Pierce’s straight away three—point attempt, Garnett got the loose ball over to Rajon Rondo on the right wing, but his desperation shot from behind the arc missed the mark at the buzzer.
Rondo led Boston (21—19) with 24 points and 10 assists. Allen scored 17 while Brandon Bass added 15 for the Celtics (21—19), who lost for just the second time in the last eight games.
“We had some good looks at the rim,” Rondo said, “but the shots didn’t fall and we couldn’t get a stop the last couple of minutes.”
Elsewhere: Philadelphia 76ers 106, New York Knicks 94: Lou Williams scored 12 of his 28 points in the decisive third quarter, Evan Turner had 24 with 15 rebounds, leading the visiting Sixers to their third straight win while sending the slumping Knicks to their fifth consecutive loss.
Carmelo Anthony had 22 points while Jeremy Lin added 14 for New York, which was outscored 38—24 in the third period.
Golden State Warriors 97, LA Clippers 93: Monta Ellis had 21 points, including the go—ahead basket with just over three minutes left along with 11 assists, and the visiting Warriors held off a late charge to beat the Clippers after blowing a 21—point third—quarter cushion.
Blake Griffin had 27 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who dropped one—game behind the Lakers for the Pacific Division lead.
Cleveland Cavaliers 118, Houston Rockets 107: Antawn Jamison scored 28 points, Kyrie Irving exploded for 16 of his 21 with just over four minutes remaining, and the Cavaliers posted their first three—game winning streak of the season after beating the visiting Rockets, who received 30 points from Argentine Luis Scola.
Orlando Magic 107, Indiana Pacers 94: Dwight Howard had 30 points with 13 rebounds, leading the Magic to its fourth win in five games while handing the visiting Pacers their fourth straight loss.
Milwaukee Bucks 105, Toronto Raptors 99: Turkish—native Ersan Ilyasova had 31 points with 12 rebounds, and the visiting Bucks snapped a four—game road slide after trimming the Raptors for the sixth straight time.
Memphis Grizzlies 94, Denver Nuggets 91: O.J. Mayo matched his season—high with 22 points, including a key triple with 57 seconds left, and the Grizzlies ended an eight—game slide in Denver by sweeping the three—game season series for the first time in franchise history.
Atlanta Hawks 106, Sacramento Kings 99: Josh Smith erupted for 19 of his 28 points in the second half, Joe Johnson added 21 and the visiting Hawks beat the Kings for the eighth straight time despite a 28—point, 12—rebound effort by DeMarcus Cousins.