Kobe Bryant rediscovered his scoring touch to tally 37 points and lead the Los Angeles Lakers to top spot in the Pacific division with a 108-99 win over the visiting Houston Rockets on Tuesday.
Bryant, who had connected on just 26 percent of his shots over his previous two games, finally caught fire against the Rockets, while teammate Andrew Bynum had 21 points and 22 rebounds as the Lakers got their fourth win in five games.
“I just had to make some adjustments,” Bryant said as he continues to play with an injured right wrist. “Some shots [it] hurts, some it doesn’t, so it’s inconsistent. But you have to find a rhythm.”
Los Angeles held an 82-81 lead with about 10 minutes remaining of a previously tight contest, but outscored the Rockets 18-8 over the next eight minutes, led by nine points from Bryant during the stretch.
Bryant made 14-of-29 shots and also had eight rebounds and six assists.
The win moved the Lakers (4-3) a half-game in front of the cross-town Clippers in the division. The Rockets (2-3), meanwhile, have lost all three of their road games this season.
Los Angeles grabbed a 53-38 advantage in rebounds led by 7-footer Bynum. After being suspended the first four games of the season because of a flagrant foul during the last post-season contest, Bynum has exploded back onto the scene with three straight double-figure games in points and rebounds.
BULLS 76, HAWKS 74
Luol Deng’s layup with 3.7 seconds to play lifted the Chicago Bulls to a nail-biting 76-74 comeback victory over the Atlanta Hawks in Chicago on Tuesday.
Derrick Rose scored 17 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter to rally the Bulls from a 19-point deficit. Coming out of a timeout with the score tied in the final seconds, Deng cut along the baseline and took a feed from Joakim Noah to put Chicago ahead.
Atlanta’s Joe Johnson shot an airball at the buzzer, giving the Bulls the win.
Rose had missed a runner with 21 seconds left, but Atlanta’s Jeff Teague then missed two free throws. Rose scored with 9.9 seconds left to put the Bulls up 74-73.
Al Horford, who led the Hawks with 16 points, was fouled and split two free throws with 7.7 seconds remaining.
JAZZ 85, BUCKS 73
In Salt Lake City, Al Jefferson scored a season-high 26 points to lead Utah past undermanned Milwaukee.
Paul Millsap had 13 points and 12 rebounds, hitting a jump shot to clinch the game with 1:07 to play.
Drew Gooden had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks, who missed the inside presence of center Andrew Bogut, who was absent for personal reasons, while Mike Dunleavy was out with groin pain.
Led by Brandon Jennings’ 4-for-19 performance, the Bucks shot just 31 percent and had 10 shots blocked by the Jazz, including a career-best five by Derrick Favors.
TRAIL BLAZERS 103, THUNDER 93
In Oklahoma City, LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 points and eight rebounds to help Portland beat Oklahoma City.
Wesley Matthews added 16 points for the Blazers, who held the Thunder to 34 percent shooting in the second half on an off night for All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook scored 22 points on 8-for-18 shooting and Durant finished with 19 points, while hitting eight of 26 shots. James Harden made his sixth career start and led the way for the Thunder with 23 points.
GRIZZLIES 113, KINGS 96
In Memphis, Rudy Gay scored 23 points in Memphis’ win over Sacramento.