LOS ANGELES // Kobe Bryant led the Los Angeles Lakers to a storming comeback against the New York Knicks. Bryant scored 28 points to help the Lakers rally from a 15-point half-time deficit to edge the game 116-114. "It was a challenging game," the Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
"We anticipated that as staff but I don't think our players anticipated that kind of game." New York shocked the Lakers by taking a 65-50 lead at the midway stage but the Lakers out-scored the Knicks 66-49 in the second half to subdue the visitors, who slipped to 11-14 with their second straight defeat. Los Angeles (21-3) won their fourth straight game, their 14th victory in 16 games, but struggled against the determined Knicks, who made 13 three-point shots and 27 of their 28 free throws.
Despite the defeat, New York coach Mike D'Antoni was happy with his young team's progress. "We worry about the losses, but I think we're playing better," said D'Antoni, whose team went 2-3 on their five-game road trip. "We said that this was going to be a measuring stick. We need to learn how to finish games and play a little better together and cut down on some bad shots, but we'll get there." Trevor Ariza's basket with 1:03 remaining finally gave the Lakers the lead for good, with the teams exchanging free throws in a tense final minute before New York's Chris Duhon missed a desperation shot from the backcourt as time expired.
Bryant added seven rebounds and six assists and scored nine of his points in the final eight minutes. Lamar Odom had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Los Angeles and Andrew Bynum chipped in with 13 points and 11 rebounds. "We remembered all the battles we've been through. We didn't panic," said Bryant. "Just to be able to stay calm and push our way through, it was a good game for us to have." Nate Robinson led the Knicks with 33 points.
Yao Ming scored 32 points, Tracy McGrady added a triple-double and the Houston Rockets ended the Denver Nuggets' four-game winning streak with a 108-96 victory. McGrady finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. DJ Augustin scored 16 of his career-high 29 points in the fourth quarter and overtime as the Charlotte Bobcats posted a 110-101 triumph over the Chicago Bulls.
Eric Gordon and Zach Randolph each scored 22 points to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 98-88 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. David West poured in 18 points as the New Orleans Hornets claimed a 91-84 defeat of the Memphis Grizzlies, who had 28 points from Rudy Gay and 20 from OJ Mayo. Brandon Roy scored 29 points as the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Sacramento Kings 109-77. John Salmons led the Kings with 21 points.