Late in the fourth quarter, with the Los Angeles Lakers trailing the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kobe Bryant was serenaded with his typical Staples Center chant: "M-V-P!" Then he went out and earned the praise with a stupendous final stretch, pushing the Lakers to overtime with Oklahoma City and then pulling out Los Angeles' biggest comeback victory of the season in a 114-106 triumph.
Bryant splashed two threes in a span of 30 seconds in the final 1:21 of play, both to give the Lakers the lead and atoned for a miserable performance from the field that had him at nine points after three quarters with sterling play late in the game. He added 17 points to his total in the fourth quarter and the two overtime periods, making a dizzying array of difficult shots, and heard those same chants again in overtime while canning two free throws to push the Lakers' lead to four points — the third was technically the game-winning point.
The Lakers also got huge contributions from Jordan Hill (15 rebounds) and Devin Ebanks, who defended Kevin Durant doggedly. Ebanks was pressed into service by Metta World Peace's ejection in the first half for an elbow to James Harden's neck.
Russell Westbrook, who was 3-for-22 — really — from the floor in the game, hit four free throws in that same final 1:21 of the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime and made a game-tying layup in the first overtime to prolong the game. He only had 14 points, dwarfed by Durant's 33, but his 10 assists helped the Thunder build a lead that would be whittled to nothing by the Lakers in the fourth quarter.
Durant's 33 gave him a slim lead over Bryant for the NBA's scoring title.
The victory secures the inside road to the No. 3 seed and the Pacific Division for the Lakers — their magic number is now one, and could be zero by the end of the night should the New Orleans Hornets upset the Los Angeles Clippers. And the loss leaves the Thunder with only a prayer of snatching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference from the San Antonio Spurs.
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