LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant hit a 17-foot fallaway jumper with 1.9 seconds left, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied in the fourth quarter to snap their three-game losing streak with a 109-107 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.
Chris Bosh hit a three-pointer with 9.5 seconds left to tie it for the Raptors, who outplayed the defending champions for most of the first three quarters before losing on another big shot by Bryant, who scored 14 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter.
Bryant, who missed a shot at the buzzer in Los Angeles’ loss at Toronto in January, got the ball on the wing before eluding Antoine Wright’s defence and gliding nearly to the baseline for a graceful jumper. Wright’s failed desperation shot set off a celebration for the Lakers, who haven’t lost four straight since April 2007.
Andrew Bynum scored 22 points and Pau Gasol had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who returned from a winless road trip to beat Toronto for the eighth straight time at Staples Center.
Bosh scored 22 points in his second game back from a seven-game injury absence, and Andrea Bargnani had 21 as the Raptors opened a four-game road trip by struggling from the field in the final minutes of their sixth loss in seven games. Jarrett Jack added 18 points.
Lamar Odom had 10 points, eight rebounds, five assists and several big fourth-quarter plays for the Lakers, who pushed their suddenly tenuous lead over Dallas atop the Western Conference standings back to three games while winning their only home game in a 16-day stretch.
Bryant put the Lakers ahead on two free throws with 3:54 left, and Derek Fisher stole Hedo Turkoglu’s pass and hit two free throws with 30 seconds left to put Los Angeles up by four. Odom missed a free throw moments later to give Toronto a chance to tie it, and Bosh coolly nailed his second three-pointer of the game after hitting just six all season previously.
An only-in-L.A. moment also factored in the final decision moments earlier, when Toronto’s Jose Calderon went racing to the sidelines to save a loose ball with 1:48 to play. Before Calderon could get there to attempt an out-of-bounds save, the ball was tipped away by Lapo Elkann, the Fiat heir and international playboy watching from a courtside seat.
Elkann got a loud ovation when he was shown on the overhead scoreboard moments later.
Los Angeles lost at Miami, Charlotte and Orlando over the previous five days, with an embarrassing blowout loss to the Bobcats sandwiched between two tight games in Florida. Bryant’s various injuries and his teammates’ struggles both played roles in the slide, which allowed the streaking Mavericks to eliminate most of Los Angeles’ conference lead.
In a good sign the Lakers were getting back to business, Ron Artest had shaved his head bald. On Sunday in Orlando, the colorful forward unveiled a Rodmanesque yellow dye job with the word “Defence” apparently written into it in purple in three languages.
The Lakers will finish the regular season with 11 of 17 on the road, including Friday’s game in Phoenix to open a three-game trip.
Toronto took a 58-50 lead into halftime with 15 points from Bargnani, who hit two three-pointers and played his usual up-tempo game. The Raptors maintained their lead in the third quarter with 13 points from Jack, and Gasol became enraged in the final seconds when Amir Johnson got away with grabbing a fistful of Gasol’s shorts while the Lakers all-star attempted a putback.
Gasol and Lakers assistant coach Frank Hamblen both received technical fouls after the quarter ended.
NOTES: Turkoglu returned from a one-game absence to rest his sprained left ankle. … Lakers G Sasha Vujacic returned from an eight-game absence with a sprained right shoulder, playing just three minutes. … Besides Elkann, courtside fans included actors Eddie Murphy, Jason Statham, Mark Valley, Russell Brand and Noah Wyle.