Lakers Need Overtime to Beat the Hornets

When Kobe Bryant is on the bench, it's probably a good time to make your move if you're the other team. That's exactly what the Hornets were able to do Friday night against the Lakers, but some late heroics from Derek Fisher prevented New Orleans from stealing one, and the Lakers held on for a 115-111 overtime victory at Staples Center.

The Lakers got off to a great start, leading by eight after one and by 13 after three. Then Kobe sat for the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, and New Orleans made their comeback. They had cut it to five by the time Kobe checked back in, and seconds later, James Posey (remember him?) hit a three-pointer to cut the Laker lead to just two.

The rest of the fourth was a tight affair, and with a little over a minute to play, Posey struck again by hitting his third three of the period to give his team a 98-95 lead. Things looked like they were going to end up in the Hornets' favor too, when Kobe drove to the basket and tried to pass it back out, but had it stolen by Chris Paul with under 24 seconds remaining.

All Paul had to do was cross half court, and wait for the Lakers to foul him. He then could have gone to the line and sealed the win by making it a two possession game with under 20 seconds left. Instead, since his team had numbers, he attempted a fast break, and drove right into Derek Fisher along the baseline, where he was whistled for an offensive foul. It was a big play by Fisher, but he would make an even bigger one on the next possession.

The ball went to Pau Gasol near the top of the circle, with his back to the basket. When Kobe curled by looking for the ball, Chris Paul decided to help on defense and make sure it didn't end up in Kobe's hands. Normally that's a good idea, but this time it left Fisher wide open at the top of the three-point line, where he nailed the game-tying shot that sent it into overtime.

Kobe had only two points in the fourth quarter, but overtime was a different story. He had 11 in the extra period, and was able to foul out Chris Paul on a questionable play with about 1:30 remaining. It appeared that Bryant pushed Paul to the ground after Posey had knocked the ball away, and when Paul fell, his feet got tangled up with Kobe's and he was whistled for his sixth foul. It was the first time in Paul's career that he had fouled out of a game.

Lamar Odom continued his dominant work on the glass by grabbing 17 rebounds, and Kobe finished with a game high 39 points, on 13-of-30 shooting. Pau Gasol had a tidy 20 and 12, and Luke Walton had an efficient line of 14 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

The Hornets were without Tyson Chandler for this one, but got solid games from Paul and Posey, along with a huge night from Rasual Butler -- he had 31 points and hit six of his eight three-point attempts.

Any close, overtime victory against one of the top teams in your conference should be celebrated, even though the Lakers almost blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead at home before finally pulling it out. But considering all of the things that had to go their way down the stretch for it to end up this way, it's not one that they'll likely find completely satisfying.

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