Sunday , Apr , 30 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Kobe’s OT buzzer-beater gives Lakers 3-1 lead over Suns

=== Kobe’s OT buzzer-beater gives Lakers 3-1 lead over Suns ===

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Kobe Bryant drained a game-winning 17-foot
jump shot from the right elbow as time expired in overtime to give the Los
Angeles Lakers a thrilling 99-98 win over Phoenix in Game 4 of their Western
Conference quarterfinal at the Staples Center.

Bryant finished with 24 points for the seventh-seeded Lakers, who took a
commanding 3-1 series lead with their third consecutive win. Lamar Odom added
a game-high 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Los Angeles.

Game 5 will be played on Tuesday in Phoenix.

Bryant connected on the jumper after Odom and Luke Walton teamed to tie-
up Steve Nash and force a jump ball at mid-court with just 6.1 seconds left.

“I was just kind of playing the moment over in my head before the tip,” Bryant
said. “Once I got it, I took my time and got the look that I wanted.”

The Lakers’ star chased down the tip and moved up the court to hit the winning
shot over Boris Diaw and Raja Bell.

Kwame Brown recorded 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who have now
won 14 of their past 15 Game 4 appearances.

Nash netted 22 points and dished out 11 assists for the Suns, who return home
for Game 5 on the brink of elimination. Diaw chipped in with 21 points, eight
rebounds and seven assists in the loss while Shawn Marion dropped in 20 points
and pulled down 12 rebounds before fouling out.

“It’s a tough loss,” Nash said. “It wasn’t meant to be. So many things went
against us. We feel like we played great. Our backs our against the wall now
and we have nothing to lose.”

The Suns drew first blood in the extra stanza when Tim Thomas drained a trey
with just over a minute gone.

After Bryant knocked down a pair of free throws, Diaw used a brilliant spin
move on the block to get loose for a dunk and give Phoenix a 95-92 edge with
just 1:44 on the clock.

The Lakers were able to tie things again. Walton found Odom on a beautiful
give-and-go and the Los Angeles forward scored on a layup while drawing
contact. The ensuing free throw deadlocked things at 95 with 1:16 remaining.

Nash answered with a big three from the top of the circle to put the Suns back
on top, 98-95, with 49.8 ticks left.

Bryant scored on a driving layup with 11.7 ticks left to draw the Lakers to
within one, 98-97, and set up his winning shot.

The Suns entered the final frame with a three-point edge and tried to shake
the Lakers with an 11-3 run that opened up their largest lead of the game.
Marion’s jumper capped the burst and staked Phoenix to an 81-73 edge with just
5:43 remaining.

The back and fourth action continued and the Lakers scored seven straight
points to make it a one-point game. Odom knocked down a pair from the
line to make it 81-80 with 2:37 left.

Phoenix went for the high pick-and-roll and got Bell a wide open three from
the top. The swingman nailed the jumper to put the Suns up, 84-80.

After Smush Parker and Diaw traded baskets, Devean George drained a three of
his own from the left wing to draw Los Angeles to within one again, 86-85,
with 59 seconds left.

The fireworks continued 19 seconds later when Thomas rained in another long-
distance bomb to give the Suns some breathing room, 89-85.

Phoenix played tough defense and forced Bryant to heave a desperation three
from long distance that fell off the front of the rim.

Diaw then made 1-of-2 from the line with 12.6 seconds left to stretch the lead
to five, 90-85.

The Lakers kept pressing, however. With just 7.9 seconds showing, Parker made
it interesting, 90-88, with a desperation three.

On the ensuing inbounds play, Parker knocked the ball from Nash and kicked it
to George, who found a streaking Bryant. The Lakers’ superstar lofted a high-
layup into the hoop and deadlocked the game at 90 with just 0.7 seconds on the
clock.

The Suns tried to win it with a back-screen alley-oop to James Jones, but the
Phoenix forward was held by Walton and unable to get off a good shot as the
clock expired.

The first 12 minutes were nip and tuck with neither team able to gain much of
an advantage. Brian Cook’s jumper with 36 seconds left in the quarter capped
the scoring in the frame with Phoenix holding a slim edge, 26-25.

The second quarter was also tightly contested. Neither team led by more than
three points in the frame and they stood deadlocked at 41 heading to the
locker room.

Marion buried a jumper as time was running out to put Phoenix on top, 67-64,
entering the fourth quarter.

Game Notes

Thomas finished with 12 points for the Suns…George had 11 points for the
Lakers…Los Angeles edged Phoenix on the boards, 42-41…The Suns had just 12
turnovers in the game…There is plenty of playoff history between these two
clubs. They are meeting for the 10th time in the postseason. The Lakers won
seven of the nine previous meetings and are 2-1 against the Suns in the first
round.

LAL PHO