SAN ANTONIO: Sometime between Ed Davis’ phantom basket and his short jumper that rattled around the rim and out, Kobe Bryant realized this wasn’t going to be his milestone night.
The Los Angeles Lakers star came into Friday’s NBA game needing 31 points to pass Hall of Famer Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list as he seeks to finally escape Jordan’s shadow.
But Bryant could only manage 22 points on seven-of-22 shooting and had a game-high five turnovers in the Lakers 112-110 overtime victory over the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.
Nick Young bailed the Lakers out Friday by nailing a desperation three pointer with seven seconds left to lift Los Angeles to victory.
“I was so happy I got the ball. I wanted one of those since I got in the league,” Young said. “He [Bryant] is going to pass [Jordan] in the first quarter of next game.
“He’s got all year, he’s going to be the man all year. Let me have my Tonto role tonight.”
Bryant is now just eight points shy of Jordan (32,292) for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Jordan sits behind Karl Malone (36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387).
Bryant and Jordan faced each other 11 times in their careers — eight during the regular season and three all-star games.
“It is going to come. It is not like it has got to happen tonight. It is going to happen eventually,” Bryant said after the game.
Two plays in the third quarter spelled out the night for Bryant.
His 25-footer from beyond the arc at 7:26 failed to fall but was accidently tipped into the Spurs basket by San Antonio’s Kyle Anderson who was standing under the rim. Forward Davis was the closest Laker to the basket so he got credit for the bucket and not Bryant who took the three-point shot. That was the only two points starter Davis would get on the night.
Then just under three minutes later, with the Lakers leading 69-67, Bryant’s short jumper appeared to be going in but it rattled around the rim before spinning backwards and bouncing out of harm’s way.
“He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well but I attribute that to fatigue. But he is a warrior,” said Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Bryant who played a team-high 40 minutes.
Bryant’s struggles in the third left Scott with a tough decision during a Laker time out near the end of the quarter — take Bryant out for his usual late third quarter rest or leave him in even though he was struggling mightily with his shot.
He kept Bryant in for a while longer then pulled him with just under two minutes left in the quarter.
With Bryant on the bench, the Lakers surged to an 11-point lead, 86-75, to finish the quarter.