Final / OT

Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 3)

Series starts 11/2

Game 1: Wednesday, November 2nd
Game 2: Sunday, November 6th
Game 3: Thursday, April 6th

Lakers 99

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Nuggets 97

(0-2, 0-1 home)

Coverage: ALT

8:30 PM ET, November 2, 2005

Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

1 2 3 4 OT T
LAL 26 22 20 21 1099
DEN 28 22 17 22 897

Top Performers

Los Angeles: K. Bryant 33 Pts, 5 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

Denver: M. Camby 19 Pts, 14 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk

Bryant sinks game-winner in overtime

DENVER (AP) -- With a sweet swish as the clock neared zero, Kobe Bryant picked the perfect way to say "Welcome Back, Coach!"

The Kobe and Phil Show made a grand return Wednesday night, as Bryant hit a long jumper with 0.6 seconds left in overtime to lift Los Angeles to a 99-97 victory over Denver in Phil Jackson's first game back as coach of the Lakers.

"The win wasn't important for me, it was important for the team," Jackson said. "But getting the win is twice as nice."

Bryant, who scored eight of his 33 points in overtime, swished home the game-winner, then ran with clenched fist to the other end of the court, chest-bumping with teammate Devean George to celebrate his biggest shot of this very young season.

After a timeout, Denver's Voshon Lenard had a good look at a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it missed. Jackson walked off the bench with a smile and pointed toward a group of Lakers fans who staked out the corner of the Pepsi Center.

Bryant's big shot was his second chance at a game-winner.

After trailing 89-84 late in regulation, the Lakers scored five straight points and got the ball back. Bryant went one-on-one with Greg Buckner and had a decent look at a long jumper, but it rimmed off at the buzzer and set the stage for overtime.

At the end of the overtime, Los Angeles' original play was for the shot to go to center Kwame Brown, who had a mismatch on Eduardo Najera. Brown missed the shot, though, and when Bryant won the fight for the rebound, there was little doubt who was taking the next shot.

"He got a good shot on the move and does what he does great -- shooting those kinds of shots when he's under duress," Jackson said.

The last regular-season game Jackson coached for Lakers provided a very similar ending. With a chance to win the Pacific Division and the second seed in the West, Bryant hit a leaning 3-pointer from the top of the key to send a game against Portland into overtime. He then hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the second overtime to give the Lakers the division.

This team is much different, though.

Helping the effort on this night was newly acquired point guard Smush Parker, who finished with 20 points and six assists. Lamar Odom had eight points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Marcus Camby led Denver with 19 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out in overtime. Carmelo Anthony also fouled out in the extra period. He finished with 16 points on a frustrating 6-for-17 shooting night.

"I kind of wanted to blame it on myself," Anthony said of the loss.

The finish for Los Angeles couldn't have been any more dramatic or perfect given the story line -- Jackson returning to the team he led to three championships after a year off to coach Bryant, the player with whom he didn't always get along.

The Lakers missed the playoffs for the first time since 1994 last season, and when they beckoned Jackson back, Kobe and Phil appeared to put their differences aside. Not much was expected of the Lakers this season, but on the first night, they came out ahead in what is supposed to be a difficult place to win this season.

"It was a big game for us," Bryant said. "We are a young team and we had to battle back to get the win."

On the other bench, Nuggets assistant Scott Brooks fell to 0-2 in his stint as an interim replacement for George Karl, who served the second game of a two-game suspension.

The Nuggets probably could have used Karl's expertise in this one, to say nothing of power forward Nene, who injured his knee Tuesday night in Denver's opener and will probably miss the rest of the season.

Camby, Anthony and Kenyon Martin played most of the night in foul trouble and didn't take full advantage of the matchups with Los Angeles' less-talented frontcourt.

"It was frustrating. It was a game we should have won," Camby said. "You have to give those guys credit."

Nobody gets more credit than Bryant.

Demanding the ball, jawing with refs, ignoring the constant boos that rained down, he was a picture of confidence. He went 13-for-28 and also finished with five rebounds and four assists.

Surprisingly, Jackson didn't draw the final play up for him, although Bryant said he didn't take it as an insult.

"He's done that in the past where the opposition is expecting something," Bryant said. "He trusts me. He knows when the play breaks down I will follow my way to the ball. He knows that."

Indeed, Bryant got the ball, got his shot and Jackson walked away a winner in his second debut with L.A.

Game notes

The Lakers improved to 32-14 in regular-season openers. ... Earl Watson, the guard the Nuggets gave a $29 million contract to in the offseason, didn't play for the second straight night.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 99 97
FGM-FGA 36-82 (.439) 40-93 (.430)
3PM-3PA 6-18 (.333) 2-12 (.167)
FTM-FTA 21-30 (.700) 15-23 (.652)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-43 12-47
Assists 24 30
Turnovers 23 23
Steals 10 9
Blocks 9 5
Fast Break Points 15 21
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 28 (1/0) 28 (1/0)
Largest Lead 7 6

Top Performers

Los Angeles
Kobe Bryant Bryant
Points: 33
Reb: 5
Ast: 4
Stl: 1
Blk: 2
Marcus Camby Camby
Points: 19
Reb: 14
Ast: 4
Stl: 2
Blk: 2