Sun, Nov 08, 2015 - Page 19 News List

Lakers triumph over Nets to nab first win of season

SECONDS TO SPARE:All-Star Kobe Bryant sank four free throws in the dying seconds of the final quarter, securing the Lakers’ win as chants of ‘Kobe! Kobe!’ filled the arena

AFP, NEW YORK

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant, left, looks to pass the ball away from Brooklyn Nets guard Wayne Ellington during the second half of their NBA game in New York City on Friday.

Photo: AP

Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers notched their first win of the NBA season on Friday, rallying for a 104-98 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

In a Brooklyn arena packed with Bryant fans, the Lakers veteran shook off a slow start to score 18 points.

Rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell had his most productive game yet with 16 points, guard Jordan Clarkson also chipped in 16 and the Lakers upped their defensive intensity — much to the satisfaction of coach Byron Scott.

“We were just much more aggressive,” Scott said. “We played with much more sense of urgency.”

The Nets trailed by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter and by nine with less than four minutes to play.

And with 25.7 seconds to go they had trimmed the deficit to 98-95 when Nets point guard Jarrett Jack forced a turnover.

In-bounding the ball with a chance to tie the game, the Nets were called for a five-second violation.

Bryant then drained four free throws to rebuild the Lakers’ lead as chants of “Kobe! Kobe!” echoed around the arena.

“It is great the fans appreciate him the way that they do and they’re showing their appreciation,” Scott said.

Even Jack said he could understand the admiration for a rival player at the Nets’ home arena.

“It’s a guy who’s a first ballot Hall of Famer,” he said of the crowd’s reaction to Bryant, who could be heading into retirement after this, his 20th season. “We understand what it is.”

The defeat was a bitter disappointment for the Nets — who had hoped to reverse their own fortunes against the struggling Lakers.

Instead they fell to 0-6 and remain in search of a first win of the season, along with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Pelicans.

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, says he will never play for another team.

“I’ve said it so many times — I’m a Laker for life,” Bryant said after the Lakers win on Friday. “I bleed purple and gold.”

Bryant, 37, could not hide his impatience when asked after the contest about former coach Phil Jackson’s pre-season suggestion that Bryant might continue his career with another club after his Lakers’ contract — which pays him US$25 million a year — expires at the end of this campaign.

“That’s Phil baiting you guys like he always does,” said Bryant, who has said he will make up his mind about retirement when the season ends.

The Toronto Raptors vowed to come back stronger from their first defeat of the NBA season after dropping a 92-87 decision to the Orlando Magic.

“We’ll learn from this,” All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan promised after the Magic ended the Raptors’ club-record season-opening winning streak at five games.

“One game is not going to define us, but one game can teach you things. You have to be prepared every night if you want to be a contender,” he said.

DeRozan scored a game-high 23 points, including 20 in the second half, but he missed a crucial free throw that could have tied the game with 25 seconds to play.

When the Raptors regained possession, he failed to get the shot he wanted, and the Magic made four free throws in the waning seconds to seal their first home win of the season.

Orlando forward Tobias Harris scored 20 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Guard Victor Oladipo had 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

The Raptors’ defeat left the reigning champion Golden State Warriors as the league’s only unbeaten team.

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