The Atlanta Hawks were mired in a slump. They were missing two key starters. And they were facing Kobe Bryant and the streaking Los Angeles Lakers.
Talk about an unlikely time to get a win.
Devin Harris scored 17 points, Ivan Johnson hit a key basket, and the short-handed Hawks shook off a 20-point third quarter by Bryant for a 96-92 victory Wednesday night, a physical game that was marred in the closing seconds when Bryant went down with a severely sprained left ankle after missing a game-tying shot.
The Lakers said Bryant is out indefinitely, just as the team is pushing for a playoff spot.
”I’ll just do what I have to do” to get back, he said.
Atlanta won for just the second time in eight games despite missing Josh Smith and Jeff Teague. Six players scored in double figures and everyone contributed to the victory, at least everyone who suited up.
”That’s the way we have to play,” said Kyle Korver, who hit the clinching free throws. ”When we’re missing guys, we can’t just say, ‘You’re the next-best guy on the team, you take all the shots.’ That’s a recipe for disaster.”
Bryant took a lot of shots for the Lakers - 33 in all - but he couldn’t knock down the one that mattered.
Then he couldn’t get up…
Bryant finished with 31 points, but made just 11 of those 33 shots.
– Reported by Paul Newberry of the Associated Press