Kobe Bryant made amends for a poor shooting display by sinking a game-winning jump shot as the Los Angeles Lakers edged the Boston Celtics 90-89 on Sunday. Bryant made a difficult 15-footer with 7.3 seconds left despite the close attendance of Ray Allen, who then went on to miss a three-point attempt as time expired to ensure the Lakers beat their hosts for the third time in a row since losing to the Celtics in the 2008 NBA final.
"They smacked us two years ago," Lamar Odom, the Lakers forward, said. "It was a big game for us. This is a team that's going to be battling to be coming out of the East." "I was thinking about last year when I had a chance to win a game in regulation but missed it. I wanted to make up for that," Bryant said. "The fans are very knowledgeable here and it's always a great place to get a win." Bryant finished with 19 points and six assists despite being eight-for-20 shooting and Andrew Bynum added 19 and 11 boards as Los Angeles captured their fourth win in a row. In a match up between the last two NBA champions, the Celtics recovered from an early deficit and looked poised to prevail when they led by 11 with less than nine minutes left.
However, the home team suffered a dry spell that allowed the Lakers to inch closer and the visitors pulled within one on Ron Artest's drive with 45 seconds remaining. Artest then drew an offensive foul on Paul Pierce to set up his team's final possession. Rajon Rondo led the way with 21 points and 12 assists for struggling Boston (29-16), who have suffered six defeats in eight games. "We came back with some energy from our bench who gave us a lift and we stuck with it and kept fighting," Rondo said. "No matter what are offence does we have to come down and play defence. "
"It's nothing to be happy about, I'll tell you that," added Boston's Kevin Garnett. "We haven't been producing wins, but we're a hard working group." Elsewhere, Kenyon Martin scored 27 points and Chauncey Billups added 25 points and 11 assists to lead the Denver Nuggets to a 103-89 win over the San Antonio Spurs. The Nuggets were once again without top-scorer Carmelo Anthony, who took another day to rest his injured left ankle.
"We know how important Melo is to us," said the coach George Karl. "But I've always believed that injuries are windows of opportunity, and I think our guys have understood that the strategy's going to be a little different, but we can still be a good team." "Most of the sets are run for Melo, so I just make myself more available," said Martin. "I can do it when he's there, but my job is facilitating."
LeBron James scored half of Cleveland's 46 points in the first quarter as the Cavaliers tied an NBA record with 11 three-pointers in the opening period of their 114-89 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. "There's no description of a player getting into the zone like that. It just happens," said James, who finished with 32 points. * With agencies