CHARLOTTE, N.C. – This was more like the Kobe Bryant the Los Angeles Lakers are accustomed to seeing.
Bryant, who is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and still learning to trust his legs, was back to making big shots down the stretch and helping his team win Saturday night — although in a somewhat tentative manner.
“I don’t know what I can and can’t do,” Bryant said. “I’m just trying to measure it. I didn’t know if I could drive to the basket. Every game has been like that.”
Bryant took a big step in the right direction, scoring a season-high 21 points to help the Lakers defeat the Charlotte Bobcats 88-85 for their first victory since Bryant returned four games ago.
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Bryant was 8 of 15 from the field and made two free throws with 37 seconds left in the game to put the Lakers ahead for good. He averaged 11 points in his first three games.
Kemba Walker had 24 points and eight assists for the Bobcats, who have lost five of their last seven.
PHILADELPHIA – LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and 16 rebounds, and Portland set a franchise record for three-pointers with 21 in a 139-105 victory over Philadelphia. The Trail Blazers improved to 20-4.
Tony Wroten Jr., a former Washington Husky, led the 76ers with 18 points but was 5 of 15 from the field.
James leads Heat
MIAMI – LeBron James scored 25 points against his former team, leading the Miami Heat to a 114-107 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
• Chris Paul collected 38 points and 12 assists to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 113-97 victory at Washington.
The Clippers’ Jamal Crawford, a graduate of Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, scored 17 points in his first start since April 2012 — when he played for Portland.
• Carmelo Anthony scored 35 points to lead host New York to a 111-106 victory over Atlanta.
• Tim Duncan had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead visiting San Antonio over Utah 100-84.
The Spurs (19-4) have won four in a row.