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This time, Kobe plays down stretch and Lakers bench Warriors, 104-101

Bryant hits two big shots in the final 1:04 in first game since he sat part of fourth quarter on Sunday. Lakers have won five of six on the road.

March 27, 2012|By Ben Bolch

OAKLAND — The road provided an unlikely refuge for the Lakers after all the questions about their coach and the benching of his star player had consumed the previous 48 hours.

A rainy night in an unfamiliar place seemed to be just what they needed Tuesday at Oracle Arena, with Kobe Bryant playing the critical fourth-quarter minutes and making the big baskets during a 104-101 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Bryant made two long jumpers in the final 1 minute 4 seconds, including a 19-foot fadeaway with 32 seconds left that gave the Lakers a 99-97 lead. The Lakers made five of six free throws in the final 22 seconds to secure the win.

Not that there wasn't some new drama involving Mike Brown and another player two nights after the Lakers coach benched Bryant for nearly four minutes late in a loss to Memphis.

Brown yanked Andrew Bynum from the game early in the third quarter after the center badly missed a three-point shot, though Bynum appeared amused on the bench as he mimicked the form on his release.

"That's something that I thought could have taken us out of rhythm, so I took him out of the game," Brown said.

Bynum sat out the rest of the third quarter and played only 2:50 in the fourth quarter, finishing with 11 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes. "I don't know what was bench-worthy about it," said Bynum, who indicated he wanted to continue taking shots from beyond the three-point arc. "I made one [Sunday] night and I missed one tonight."

Did Brown talk to him about the shot? "Not yet," Bynum said. "I'm sure he wants to."

The locker room was also buzzing about Bryant's shots.

Forward David Lee gave the Warriors a 97-95 lead with 1:22 left before Bryant responded with a long jumper to tie the score. Lakers small forward Metta World Peace then blocked a shot by Klay Thompson, with the ball going out of bounds off Thompson.

Bryant made his fadeaway and the Lakers were on their way.

"Those are shots that I practice, you know," said Bryant, who finished with 30 points on nine-for-24 shooting after playing the final 6:39 of the fourth quarter. "Those are shots that I work on time and time again, so it was just about me getting to my spot. I had to make sure I had to get away from the double team."

The night held some historical significance for Bryant, who moved into second place on the list of points scored by a player for one franchise when he surpassed Michael Jordan's 29,277 points with the Chicago Bulls. With 29,283 points as a Laker, Bryant trails only Karl Malone, who scored 36,374 points for Utah.

Although Bryant said Bynum's three-pointer was "not that big a deal to me" because he didn't think the center would take many of them, Lakers forward Pau Gasol indicated that the matter needed to be addressed.

"Hopefully it's just one night," said Gasol, who had 19 points and 17 rebounds. "We'll try to get it right for all of our interests. It's not about one individual, so we'll be fine. Andrew understands. He's a good guy and he'll do the right thing."

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