omri casspi kobe bryant 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Omri Casspi improved his career-high once more on Friday night, but yet again the Los Angeles Lakers spoiled the party for the Israeli and his Sacramento Kings.
Casspi scored 23 points, hitting eight of 13 shots, including three of four from beyond the arc, but Kobe Bryant's buzzer-beating three-pointer made sure the defending NBA champions overcame a 20-point deficit to beat the Kings 109-108.
"We're going to see them again. We're going to be ready to compete again, you know. The Lakers are an amazing team," said Casspi, who also grabbed six rebounds and passed three assists in 41 minutes on court.
"We played well. Team chemistry was good. Everything will work out."
This was Sacramento's second heartbreaking defeat to the Lakers in less than a week, with Los Angeles beating the Kings 112-103 in double-overtime last Saturday.
The last time the Lakers won a game in which they trailed by 20 or more points was December 12, 2006, when they erased a 21-point deficit in a 112-101 double-overtime win against Houston at Los Angeles.
"It looked like they went into a zone coverage on the inbounds pass, and that side was wide open," said Bryant, who finished with 39 points and has averaged 35.7 points in his last 10 games.
"It was just a matter of me getting to that spot with enough time to get a shot off. Phil drew up a play for a three. He wanted me to get a good look and knock it down. I think he wanted to get out of here."
Lamar Odom had a season-high 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the NBA-leading Lakers (26-6). Pau Gasol had 17 points, 16 rebounds and four assists - one of which set up Bryant's clutch basket from in front of the Sacramento bench.
"Kobe's shooting the ball at a high percentage," Gasol said. "When he's feeling it and the shots are going down, he's going to keep shooting."
Spencer Hawes had a career-high 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Kings, with Beno Udrih adding 19 points and 13 assists.
"I am so proud of our team - but at the same time, it's disappointing," Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said.
"We've played well enough to beat those guys twice, but they have a knack at the end of games. We got everything we needed, performance-wise, from everybody that played, and we couldn't close it out."
One night after scoring a season-high 44 points and getting a season-best 11 assists, Bryant added another chapter to his Hall of Fame resume. This miracle shot came exactly four weeks after his off-balance three-point buzzer-beating bank shot that pulled out a win over the Miami Heat at Staples Center.
On December 16 at Milwaukee, Bryant hit a 15-footer as time expired in overtime to give the Lakers a 107-106 win.
"These players - I don't know how they get themselves into those positions, but they do an unbelievable job of hitting shots that are remarkable shots, marvelous shots," coach Phil Jackson said. "He's right there with Michael in that kind of breath you look at."
The Lakers came out as flat as half-empty champagne bottles left over from New Year's Eve, shooting 37 percent from the field in the first half and trailing 64-49 at intermission.
The sellout crowd let the Lakers feel their pain, booing them loudly after Jon Brockman's layup gave Sacramento a 38-23 lead with 9:12 left in the second quarter. The Kings built the lead to 20 at 52-32 with a three-pointer by Ime Udoka that capped a 26-9 run with 5:06 left in the half.
"I think we kind of took the pedal off," Hawes said. "We knew they were going to make a run. And they chipped away and chipped away to put themselves in a position to win it at the end. That's why he's Kobe. He makes big shots at big times."
Knicks 112, Hawks 108 (OT)
In Atlanta, Nate Robinson scored 11 of his 41 points in overtime in a dramatic return to New York's lineup which helped sink Atlanta.
After being benched for 14 games, Robinson entered the game with 3:01 remaining in the opening period. He made 18 of 24 shots from the field, came within four points of his career high and had eight assists.
Robinson's agent recently told reporters he'd asked the Knicks to trade the guard. The league fined Robinson $25,000 because players aren't allowed to make public trade requests.
Wilson Chandler added 24 points for New York.
Joe Johnson had 28 points for Atlanta, which has lost three straight for the first time this season.
Magic 106, T-Wolves 94
Rashard Lewis scored 21 points to lead Orlando in the win over host Minnesota.
Matt Barnes added 17 to help the Magic snap a three-game road losing streak. Orlando is 5-1 in its past six games.
Jonny Flynn led Minnesota with 23 points.