On lackluster night Bryant shines when it counts

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 01 2012 02:54 PM | Updated as of Apr 01 2012 10:54 PM

LOS ANGELES - Kobe Bryant made just three baskets on Saturday, but his nightmarish night included one dream shot: a go-ahead three-pointer with 20 seconds left in the Lakers' NBA victory over New Orleans.

Bryant, the league's scoring leader, finished the night three-for-21 from the floor with a total of 11 points, but the Lakers still managed to beat the Hornets 88-85

He missed his first 15 attempts, and his key basket with the clock ticking down was his only three-pointer in eight attempts on the night.

"I'm stubborn. That's probably what it is," Bryant said of his decision to go for the shot, which gave the Lakers an 86-85 lead. "If I'd have missed that shot, everybody would have killed me."

Bryant had never before missed more than 11 shots to start a game or more than 13 consecutive attempts during a game.

"Fatigue might have something to do with it," said Bryant, who was relieved his shooting woes didn't cost the Lakers a victory against the Hornets, the Western Conference's last place team, who had only eight healthy players to call on.

"The schedule's a little crazy," he said of the jam-packed slate of games each team is facing as the lockout-shortened NBA season hurtles toward its close on April 26. "But I'm fine. It's going to be OK. I'm going to figure it out. I always have."

Despite Bryant's struggles, the Lakers led by 14 after the first quarter, but the Hornets had stormed back to take a 10-point lead in the fourth.

Bryant played just over 38 minutes Saturday, right around the 38.6 he was averaging coming into the contest.

"Obviously a couple minutes less would be ideal," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. "Hopefully I can get his minutes down from what it is throughout the rest of the year."

Bryant indicated he didn't think the game was part of a pattern for him.

"It was just one of those horrible, horrible games," he said.

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