The Los Angeles Lakers' struggles remain one of the biggest stories of the NBA season, but they are beginning to turn around that narrative. Heading into Sunday night's home game against the Atlanta Hawks, the Lakers had won four of their last five and 12 of their last 17, improving their record to 29-30. Another victory would put them at .500, a mark they hadn't hit Dec. 28, 2012.
Against the Hawks, longtime Lakers talisman Kobe Bryant ensured that they would not keep that losing record. In the last minutes of the game, Kobe took over, scoring the team's last six points to lock down a 99-98 victory.
The clear highlight is available for your viewing pleasure above. With roughly 2:20 left on the clock and the Lakers down 94-93, Bryant drove to his right past well-regarded Hawks defender Josh Smith. While most 34-year-old players would have laid the ball up, thereby allowing the quick-leaping Smith to block the shot, Kobe kept on elevating and exploded for the emphatic dunk. It was reminiscient of his younger days, back when he was regularly discussed as one of the two or three most athletic players in the NBA.
[Related: Magic Johnson offers LeBron James $1M for dunk competition appearance]
But Kobe wasn't finished. With 33 seconds left, he nailed two free throws to put the Lakers back on top 97-96. After an Al Horford dunk on the ensuing possession, the Lakers held the ball with 26 seconds remaining. After the jump, check out Kobe's game-winning bucket.
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