"Everyone expected him to take that shot," Sacramento guard John Salmons said. "No one thought he would pass it."
Yet that's just what Bryant did, feeding Smush Parker for a game-tying layup with 0.1 seconds left and helping the Los Angeles Lakers go on to a 132-128 overtime victory Thursday night.
"We should be able to get layups every time if they double Kobe at halfcourt," Luke Walton said. "Kobe did a great job trusting Smush and Smush made a pretty tough layup."
Bryant overcame a scoreless opening 16 minutes to finish with 42 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists to help the Lakers survive after blowing a 21-point lead.
Parker's basket capped a Lakers' comeback from four points down in the final 6.7 seconds, providing a dramatic finish in the first meeting of the season between these two fierce California rivals.
"It's Arco, man. Weird things happen here," Bryant said. "Inevitably, every time we play here we wind up having a great game."
Bryant scored on the opening possession of overtime to give the Lakers the lead for good and added a fallaway baseline jumper with 1:03 left in overtime gave the Lakers a 126-121 lead.
Mike Bibby's 3-pointer cut it to one with 11.7 seconds left, but Bryant made five free throws down the stretch to ice it.
Sacramento trailed by 21 points in the third quarter, but Bibby's 3-pointer gave the Kings a 114-112 lead with 23 seconds remaining in regulation.
After Bryant missed a jumper in the lane at the other end, Salmons hit two free throws with 6.7 seconds remaining to make it a four-point game. Sasha Vujacic answered with a 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds to go.
Bibby was fouled before the inbounds play but missed the free throw. Sacramento kept the ball and Martin made one of two at the line with 4.0 seconds left. The Lakers inbounded to Bryant, who drew the double team before feeding Parker for the game-tying layup.
"As soon as I crossed halfcourt they started doubling," Bryant said. "It was something we talked about. I caught the ball at the top, squared up and saw Bibby was hedging. Smush cut right behind him."
The comeback wouldn't have been possible without the missed free throws by Bibby and Martin. Sacramento set a team record with 58 foul shots, but missed 15 of them.
"It hurts, especially when free-throw shooters like me and Kevin don't come through," Bibby said. "We make those free throws and it's over."
The Lakers were held to one field goal in an eight-minute span in the third quarter to let the Kings back into the game. Bryant then keyed a 9-2 run early in the fourth with a 3-pointer and a dunk, and the Lakers made it 106-94 on Bryant's basket with 6:18 to go. Sacramento scored the next nine points to set up the exciting finish.
After a scoreless first quarter when he took only one shot, Bryant heated up in the second quarter. His first point came on a free throw with 8:52 left in the half. He made two more foul shots the next trip and then scored his first basket on a give-and-go layup from Vladimir Radmanovich. Bryant finished the quarter with 18 points, going 11-of-12 from the line.
The first half was played with almost no rhythm, as the teams made a constant parade to the foul line. There were 38 fouls called in the half, including 26 in a 48-minute second quarter when the teams set an Arco Arena record by going to the line 47 times.
"In the first half we embarrassed ourselves the way we came out," Sacramento's Corliss Williamson said. "We showed some resilience in coming back, but it was heartbreaking to lose it."
Los Angeles broke out to a 21-8 lead midway through the opening quarter as Cook hit all six of his shots, including a 3-pointer. Bryant's only shot of the quarter was a missed 3-pointer with 1:50 remaining. He did have four assists.
- The previous Arco record for free throws in a quarter was 40 in the fourth period of a Portland-Sacramento game Jan. 20, 2004. The NBA record for free throws in a quarter is 50.
- Former Lakers and Kings center Vlade Divac was in attendance.
- Bryant reached the 40-point mark for the sixth time this season.