Kobe Bryant scored 25 points and set up Ron Harper's game-winner Friday as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied to defeat Portland 93-91 and take a 2-1 lead in the National Basketball Association Western Conference finals.
The top-seeded Lakers gave away home-court advantage with an awful 29-point home loss in Game Two. Afterward, Bryant said, "We are going to go up there and do the same thing. It's just a bigger challenge."
Those were bold words from Bryant, who had struggled through the first two games, averaging 12.5 points, about half his average through the first two rounds of the postseason. They seemed pretty hollow when Portland raced to a 15-2 lead.
With the Lakers on the verge of being blown out, Bryant bailed them out. While engaging in a verbal battle with Portland forward Scottie Pippen, he scored 18 points in the first half to keep Los Angeles in the game, then made all the big plays down the stretch.
"Kobe had a fabulous game," said Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal. "Everybody's been riding him ... He was a little more aggressive today, and his shots were falling,” -- PORTLAND (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)