Kobe Bryant [ Images ] rescued the fading Los Angeles Lakers by dropping a baseline jump shot with four seconds to play to close out a six-game road trip with a 94-92 win over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
Bryant, who entered the contest as the NBA's scoring leader, had just seven points in the opening half but took charge in the second, finishing with 27 points to send the Lakers home with a 3-3 split from their longest road trip of the season.
"The bottom line is it was Kobe's two shots at the end of the game," Lakers coach Mike Brown said. "That's who he is."
Spain's Pau Gasol contributed a sixth straight double-double to the Lakers, hitting for 16 points and pulling down 17 rebounds while Andrew Bynum bounced back from dismal three-point effort in a loss to the New York Knicks on Friday, with a 14 point performance.
But, as always, with the game on the line, the Lakers turned to Bryant.
Trailing 90-86 with less than a minute to play, Bryant nailed a three-point shot to slice the Raptors advantage to one then fed Metta World Peace for a go layup.
After Jose Calderon, who hit a career high 30 points, answered for Toronto to retake the lead 92-91, Bryant again stepped up, this time with a dazzling fade away jumper before closing out the scoring from the foul line.
"I just noticed a spot on the baseline, everything was set for me to try and catch it down there, I knew I could catch it and shoot," said Bryant.
"Once I noticed that space open, it was just a matter of me trying to shake the defenders and get to that spot.
"I'll launch them from anywhere."