Kobe Bryant scored 48 points and capped his season-best offensive outburst by swishing an 18-footer with 4.3 seconds left in overtime to help the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Seattle SuperSonics 123-121 on Monday night in Seattle.
The Lakers were playing their first game without injured center Andrew Bynum.
Bryant returned to being an offensively-focused scorer, taking 44 shots and scoring the Lakers last six points of overtime, as Los Angeles won its seventh straight and moved into a tie with Phoenix atop the Pacific Division.
Before the game, Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo said he wouldn’t mind it if Bryant went off just as long as he was forced to take a lot of shots. Carlesimo just didn’t count on Bryant making nearly half of his 44 attempts, finishing with 21 field goals made. It was Bryant’s 87th career 40-point game and the fourth in his last five games in Seattle.
Nick Collison led Seattle with 24 points and 18 rebounds and rookie Kevin Durant finished with 19 points, but missed 20 shots.
Seattle jumped out to a 121-117 lead, but Kurt Thomas missed a pair of free throws with 2:23 left and Bryant hit consecutive jumpers to again pull the teams even.
After a Durant miss, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom missed open 3s, but Durant again failed to give the Sonics the lead, missing an 18-footer over Kwame Brown.
Odom grabbed the rebound, giving the Lakers one final chance and Bryant capitalized, making up for missing an open jumper and getting stripped at the end of regulation.
Seattle had one final chance to force a second overtime, but Collison missed an 18-footer at the buzzer.
Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson passed Bill Fitch for sixth place on the all-time wins list with 945.
Wizards 88, Celtics 83: At Boston, Caron Butler scored 21 and Washington beat the Celtics for the Wizards’ second victory over Boston in three days. Antawn Jamison added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards, who handed Boston its first two-game losing streak of the season.
Butler scored nine points during a 25-6 run over the final 6:24 of the fourth quarter to give the Wizards their fifth win in the last six games against Boston.
Bobcats 119, Nuggets 116: At Charlotte, N.C., Gerald Wallace scored 40 points, Matt Carroll hit two free throws with 4.6 seconds left and the Bobcats made the big plays down the stretch in a win over Denver.
Trailblazers 99, Nets 73: At East Rutherford, N.J., LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 points to lead Portland to its 18th win in the last 20 games with a victory over the Nets.
Spurs 89, 76ers 82: At San Antonio, Manu Ginobili scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Spurs to a victory over Philadelphia.
Jazz 98, Bucks 87: At Salt Lake City, Deron Williams scored 24 of his 33 points in the second half and had 10 assists as Utah rallied to beat Milwaukee.
Kings 122, Mavericks 120: At Sacramento, Calif., Kevin Martin scored 39 points in his second game back from a groin injury and John Salmons hit a game-winning drive with 2.6 seconds remaining to help the Kings snap Dallas’ seven-game winning streak with a victory.
Around the league
Andrew Bynum will be out at least eight weeks because of an injured left knee. The Los Angeles Lakers center was hurt in Sunday night’s 100-99 victory over Memphis when he landed on teammate Lamar Odom‘s left foot while going for a rebound. … Stephon Marbury will miss at least two more games and could require surgery on his left ankle. He needed surgery to remove bone spurs from the same ankle after he was hurt in 2001, though the procedure was done over the summer. … Cavaliers coach Mike Brown received a two-year contract extension that will keep him with the club through the 2010-11 season. … The Denver Nuggets remained mum on the medical condition that has sidelined Nene, citing privacy laws for the decision to remain quiet on his condition. … The NBA formed NBA China, strengthening its business interests in the region and perhaps paving the way for a bolstered professional league in the country.