Lakers 107, Bucks 106, OT

Kobe Bryant reverted to an old habit when he missed a potential

game-winning shot. Given a second opportunity, he stuck with the

change he’s made since breaking his right index finger.

Bryant hit a 15-footer as time expired and scored the game’s

final seven points over the last 1:18 of overtime to lift the Los

Angeles Lakers to a 107-106 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on

Wednesday night.

Bryant, who had 27 of his 39 points in the second half and

overtime, missed a shot from nearly the same spot from the left

elbow that would’ve won it at the buzzer to end regulation.

“I changed my grip since the finger, so that first shot I took

had my original grip and the ball kind of came off the wrong way,”

said Bryant, who broke the finger against Minnesota on Friday. “I

was upset because if I was going to miss it, I’d rather miss it

with things I’ve practiced in the last few days. I was happy to get

another look.”

On his second try, he backed down Charlie Bell again and drained

the jumper to start the celebration by raising his arms

triumphantly and returning to the Lakers bench where he was

mobbed.

“I had a really good look on that first one and wanted to go

right back to the same spot and get the same look,” Bryant

said.

Pau Gasol had 26 points and a career-high 22 rebounds for the

Lakers (20-4), who tied Boston for the best record in the NBA with

their 13th win in the last 14 games.

Bryant, who scored 42 points in a win over Chicago on Tuesday

night, was again sharp when it counted despite the finger that’s

been hampering his ball handling and follow through. He went 13 of

28 from the field and hit all 12 of his free-throw attempts, but

committed seven turnovers after committing eight against the

Bulls.

He said he took a whack on the hand and it remains sore, but

this one was much more painful for the Bucks.

Reserve Michael Redd had 25 points and Ersan Ilyasova added a

career-high 24, but the Bucks lost their fourth straight in the

series with the Lakers and are 3-14 in the last 17 meetings.

“I hate losing to him,” said Redd, back for his second game

after missing seven with left knee soreness.

Milwaukee took a 106-100 lead in overtime after Redd hit a 3 and

Luke Ridnour added a 15-footer.

Bryant hit a jumper and after Ilyasova missed two free throws,

the Lakers star added a three-point play by plowing into Andrew

Bogut, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds, to make it 106-105 with

48 seconds left.

Bogut and Bell both declined to criticize the officiating,

saying that they didn’t want to draw a fine. But both were clearly

perturbed and believed Bogut had position.

“That was a huge play, the charge or block call,” Bucks coach

Scott Skiles said. “That’s a huge play and if we get that stop

right there, we’re probably in good position.”

Milwaukee still had chances to win or at least stave off

Bryant.

Both Ridnour and Redd missed shots in the closing seconds for

the Bucks, and Ron Artest grabbed a rebound with 5.4 seconds left.

After a timeout, Lamar Odom inbounded the ball to Bryant, who hit

the game-winner.

“I did the best I could to make it a tough shot. He missed the

first one, I thought it was good defense on the second one,” Bell

said. “Players like that, they try to get to a certain spot on the

court. It’s a comfort zone. He got to it.”

Gasol has 78 rebounds in his last four games, including three

20-rebound performances. Gasol’s total is the NBA’s best mark in a

four-game span since Marcus Camby had 79 during a stretch that

ended in January last season, according to STATS, LLC.

“I’m just trying to be more active and more assertive. I’m

trying to pursue the ball more instead of waiting for it,” Gasol

said. “The balls are bouncing my way a couple times more, but I’m

just being active and hopefully I can keep it up.”

Milwaukee trailed 74-71 heading into the fourth, but took an

85-80 lead midway through the quarter. The Lakers failed to tie it

until Gasol’s three-point play and Bryant’s turnaround fallaway

evened it at 93 with 2:11 left.

Derek Fisher hit a 17-footer to give the Lakers the lead, but

Bogut then drew a foul on Gasol and made the basket with 21 seconds

left.

Bogut missed the ensuing free throw and Bryant’s 16-footer was

contested by Bell to send the game to overtime.

Jackson called the win “miraculous,” but still took time to

tease his superstar.

“I told him, ‘Why did you keep us waiting? You had the same

situation in regulation. Really, you are wasting a half-hour of our

lives,”’ Jackson joked. “I just don’t understand that boy

sometimes.”

NOTES: Artest and Odom got technical fouls in the game, both for

arguing calls. … The Lakers didn’t spend much time in Milwaukee.

They took a bus to the Bradley Center after spending Tuesday night

in Chicago and flew out after the game to New York. Los Angeles

plays the Nets on Saturday. … Artest said after shootaround that

Tiger Woods “still is” a role model for him and his children.

Artest wrote a post on his blog that was an open letter to the

superstar golfer to encourage him.