LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant scored 29 points and made two free throws with seven seconds remaining, lifting the Los Angeles Lakers to a 99-98 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats .

Bryant was just 9-of-30 from the field, but he made 11 of 12 free throws, including the winning pair after being fouled by Bernard Robinson.

Melvin Ely scored 20 points, Brevin Knight added 17, and Emeka Okafor grabbed 12 rebounds for the Bobcats, who lost their ninth in a row on the road. They remain winless in eight games against Western Conference opponents this season.

Chris Mihm added 21 points, and Lamar Odom tied his career high with 11 assists and 10 rebounds for the Lakers.

Trailing by four with 3:26 remaining, Sasha Vujacic beat the shot clock buzzer with a 17-footer for the Lakers before Bryant was blocked by Okafor, then missed a 3-pointer on the same possession.

Keith Bogans scored and Knight made two free throws that kept Charlotte ahead 96-90. The Lakers made one final push, with Bryant passing to Brian Cook for a jumper, then Cook hitting a 3-pointer to draw the Lakers within one.

Bogans made a layup for a 98-95 lead, then Bryant missed a 3-pointer.

Bryant got fouled and made both free throws, cutting the Lakers’ deficit to one with 17 seconds left. He fouled Knight, who missed both with 11 seconds left.

After a timeout, Bryant drove the basket and got fouled, setting up the winning free throws.

The Bobcats extended their lead to 10 points early in the fourth quarter, with former Lakers player Jumaine Jones making consecutive baskets.

The Lakers forged a tie at 86 with a 14-5 spurt, including two 3-pointers and a pair of free throws by Vujacic and back-to-back jumpers by Bryant.

Then Ely scored inside over Mihm, Knight hit a running jumper, and Ely slammed down an alley-oop pass from Okafor to put the Bobcats back in front 92-88 with 4:10 remaining.

The Lakers opened the third quarter on an 11-2 run engineered mostly by Bryant, Odom and Mihm that resulted in a 57-50 lead. But the Bobcats answered with eight straight points and went up by one. From there, the teams traded baskets, with neither leading by more than four points, before the Bobcats ended the quarter up 73-69.

Notes: Shaquille O’Neal, in town for Miami’s game against the Clippers on Monday night, got a standing ovation when he took his courtside seat late in the second quarter. … It was Phil Jackson’s first regular-season game against Charlotte, swept 2-0 by the Lakers last season. … Lakers reserve F Brian Cook scored 11 points on his 25th birthday. … Bobcats G Kareem Rush didn’t play against his old team because of a sprained left index finger.

AP-ES-12-05-05 0012EST


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