Bryant bites back
Overcomes chipped tooth to end Laker losing streakPosted: Saturday November 16, 2002 1:31 AM
Updated: Saturday November 16, 2002 2:57 AM
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- His swollen lip stitched up but still bloody, Kobe Bryant smiled and exposed a new gap on the left side of his mouth.
Chipped tooth or not, Bryant was determined not to let the Lakers lose again. He scored 45 points as Los Angeles snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Golden State Warriors 96-89 in overtime Friday night.
Bryant broke one tooth and had another temporarily knocked back in its socket in a collision with Antawn Jamison in the final seconds of regulation.
But Bryant came back to score four points in overtime, and also had a key rebound and assist to set up Robert Horry's fastbreak as the Lakers took charge in the extra period.
"I felt my tooth chip in my mouth," Bryant said of the collision, when Jamison's forehead banged him in the mouth. "The other tooth shifted back, so it was kind of behind another one. But the trainer popped it back in place."
Bryant grinned and said he didn't mind the collision.
"I kind of liked it, man," he said. "I think I should have been a boxer. I swear to you, I get off on stuff like that."
Horry had seven of his nine points in overtime for the Lakers, still without Shaquille O'Neal. The Warriors went the final 4:09 without a field goal.
The victory kept coach Phil Jackson from losing five in a row for the first time since 1994, and also kept the three-time defending NBA champions out of the Pacific Division cellar.
Golden State's Jason Richardson hit a 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds remaining to tie it 85-all in regulation.
As the Lakers inbounded the ball after a timeout, Bryant set a pick and Jamison crashed into him.
"Stuff like that happens," Bryant said. "No harm, no foul, some blood, but no ambulance."
Passing less and shooting more since his teammate hadn't been hitting shots during the losing streak, Bryant was 18-of-40 from the field and had just four assists. The only other Los Angeles scorer in double figures was Samaki Walker with 12 points and 14 rebounds.
While Bryant wasn't overly concerned when Jamison ran into him, Walker was.
"It was definitely one of those situations where I thought he had spit out his teeth -- it looked like he did to me," Walker said. "But he came back and showed what his character's really about. He continued to lead us in overtime."
Richardson, who drew the defensive duty on Bryant, said, "You know, he's Kobe Bryant. Nobody in the NBA is going to stop him. Nobody could stop Mike (Michael Jordan) and nobody can stop Kobe."
The Warriors had a poor night at the free throw line, going 2-of-8 in overtime and 18-of-33 for the game.
"If we didn't miss free throws, we might have won this game," Richardson said.
O'Neal said earlier this week that he will probably play his first game of the season Nov. 22 at home against Chicago. He had surgery on his right big toe on Sept. 11 and has been slowly working his way back.
The Lakers also were without Devean George, sidelined by an
ankle sprain; Mark Madsen, on the injured list with a strained left
hamstring; and Soumalia Samake, who served the second game of a
five-game suspension for violating the league's steroids policy.
Notes: The Warriors are 1-6 on the road. ... George is day-to-day
with his sprained right ankle, but he likely will miss Sunday's
contest against Houston. ... The Lakers' Phil Jackson said of the
very physical game: "It proves that it is not easy to win in this
game, regardless. Every win comes with a price."