Kobe helps Lakers take lead

When the LA Lakers lost to the New York Knicks several weeks ago, they bemoaned the fact that they were missing Kobe Bryant, who was serving a one-game suspension for elbowing an opponent.

When the two teams met again Tuesday night at Staples Center, Kobe Bryant was indeed the difference.

At least in the first half.

Kobe Bryant scored the last 11 points of the half over nearly the final three minutes to give his team a 54-49 advantage.

Kobe Bryant, who scored 18 points in the half, topped off his shooting exhibition with a three-pointer from several feet beyond the arc at the buzzer.

In all, Kobe Bryant hit five of nine from the floor and six of six from the free-throw line.

New York center Eddie Curry led his team in scoring (12 points) and rebounding (five).