Lakers beat Raptors 118-116 in OT to go over .500
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant's steely determination never wavers. It's his 34-year-old body he sometimes wonders about.
He skipped pre-game shootaround because his shoulders were tight, and he was feeling weary in overtime.
But Bryant found enough energy to hit the tying 3-pointer with 5 seconds to play in regulation, then dunked for the go-ahead basket with 10 seconds left in the extra session, helping the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 118-116 on Friday night for their second straight come-from-behind win.
They rallied from 25 points down to beat New Orleans on the road two nights earlier, when Bryant had 42 points and 12 assists. This time, he finished with 41 points and 12 assists, and made 14 of 16 free throws.
"It's like, 'Damn, are you kidding again?'" Bryant said. "Do we collectively have the energy to do this again, and we did."
Against the Raptors, the Lakers rallied from a 15-point deficit in regulation and a slow start in overtime to close within a half-game of Utah for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth. They also moved a game above .500.
"It feels good to be back within striking distance," Bryant said. "We're just hell-bent on trying to win games."
Dwight Howard had 24 points and 13 rebounds while going 6 of 13 from the free-throw line as he and Bryant complimented each other well for the second game in a row.
"We know what we're trying to accomplish as a team and we just stuck together," Howard said. "Kobe hit some tough shots and then we got some good stops at the end."
DeMar DeRozan led six Toronto players in double figures with 28 points. Rudy Gay and Alan Anderson added 17 points each, and Kyle Lowry had 15 points and 10 assists. Starter Andrea Bargnani left the game with a strained right elbow in the first quarter.
"Our guys are fighting, scratching their behinds off," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "Now we have to understand the intensity, the speed of the game, how much you have to put thought into the game and execution at the same time as you are playing hard."
The Lakers won their fifth in a row at home and 10th straight at Staples Center against Toronto, which was seeking its first-ever season sweep after winning 108-103 on Jan. 20.
The Lakers found themselves playing catch-up nearly the entire game.
Under defensive pressure in overtime, Bryant passed off to his teammates, but they repeatedly missed. Steve Nash finally hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 115 with 45 seconds left. Then, Bryant's running dunk gave the Lakers their second lead of overtime.
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