OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Nothing could stop Kobe Bryant from acting like an airplane.
Bryant scored 10 of his 38 points the final 4 1/2 minutes, and Smush Parker added career highs of 24 points and 12 rebounds in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 110-104 victory over slumping Golden State on Saturday night.
Jason Richardson scored a season-high 37 points and Baron Davis got his fifth career triple-double for the Warriors, but Parker and Kwame Brown kept it close until Bryant took over yet another fourth quarter with four quick baskets in a tight game.
The last jumper put Los Angeles up 108-102 with 1:17 to play, essentially clinching its fifth victory in six games. Bryant, his wrist still aching and his peripheral vision hurt by an earlier elbow from Mike Dunleavy, soared back to the Lakers bench in his arms-spread imitation of an airplane—a once-frequent celebration he hadn’t used since last season.
“Yeah, I broke it out,” Bryant said with a grin. “It’s fun for us. The guys get hyped about that. That was kind of a backbreaker, so that was the airplane.”
Bryant finally is feeling fairly good, despite his nagging injuries and the weight of the one-man show on his shoulders. With two late free throws, the NBA scoring leader fell just short of scoring 40 points for the sixth time in seven games—despite a sore wrist wrapped in a makeshift brace.
“It’s a Gary Vitti special,” Bryant said, referring to the Lakers trainer. “I can play through that stuff. Hey, man, somebody’s got to take a beating.”
Bryant even got testy with Dunleavy midway through the third quarter. When Dunleavy elbowed Bryant in the right eye while trying to block the Los Angeles superstar’s layup attempt, Bryant screamed and pointed at Dunleavy before Davis separated them.
“He knew what he did,” Bryant said, adding he was hit on his brace at least four times. “When he hit me, he knew what was going to happen. It just sharpened my focus.”
Bryant clearly wasn’t looking ahead to Monday, when Shaquille O’Neal returns to face the Lakers at Staples Center for the second time since getting traded to Miami.
“I don’t think it’s a story,” Bryant said. “The guy’s in Miami. I mean, who … cares?”
Brown had a season-high 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers.
Golden State lost its fifth straight, falling two games under .500 for the first time this season.
Neither team took a double-digit lead in the longtime California rivals’ first meeting of the season, but the Lakers pulled ahead 102-96 with 4:27 to play on Parker’s three-point play and Bryant’s long jumper.
“Usually, I have big quarters,” Parker said. “Tonight, my points were spread out. … We’re finally starting to come together and play team D. We’re starting to execute on offense a little more.”
Golden State got within four points when Parker missed two free throws with 28 seconds left, but the Warriors then missed three shots on the same possession to end it.
“There were times when we needed to make a stop, and they scored on us,” Richardson said. “We played a good game. We came in ready to play. Now we need to get to that (next) level. We need to find a way to get a stop.”
Davis had 24 points, 13 assists and a career-high 11 rebounds for the Warriors’ first triple-double since Mookie Blaylock did it on March 24, 2001. Richardson hit five 3-pointers, but couldn’t come through in the final minutes.
The Warriors are in a prolonged skid for the first time since acquiring Davis at last season’s trade deadline. Golden State’s offense, never fluid even when it was winning, has degenerated into 48 minutes of spot-up jumpers and poor rebounding.
“Obviously at the end of the game when they needed buckets, certainly Kobe was the guy who made every shot he took,” Warriors coach Mike Montgomery said. “That’s why he’s so good.”
Richardson scored 23 points and Davis added 17 in a first half nearly free of defense. Bryant’s 18 kept Los Angeles within 60-59 at halftime, with Parker getting 17 points and Brown matching his season high by halftime with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
Mickael Pietrus scored two points on 1-of-6 shooting in his return to the Warriors’ lineup. Pietrus missed the last 23 games since Nov. 21 with a sprained ligament in his right knee, though he also returned to the court wearing a large sleeve on his left elbow. … Lamar Odom couldn’t score until a twisting layup with 6:52 left in the third quarter—and he never scored again. … The Warriors packed 20,179 fans into the Arena for the seventh-biggest crowd in history.