Basketball: Bryant helps Lakers to land first win of season in game against Brooklyn

Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers waves to the crowd after defeating the Brooklyn Nets.
Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers waves to the crowd after defeating the Brooklyn Nets.PHOTO: AFP

New York (AFP) - Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers notched their first win of the NBA season on Friday, rallying for a 104-98 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

In a Brooklyn arena packed with Bryant fans, the Lakers veteran shook off a slow start to score 18 points.

Rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell had his most productive game yet with 16 points, guard Jordan Clarkson also chipped in with 16 and the Lakers upped their defensive intensity, much to the satisfaction of coach Byron Scott.

"We were just much more aggressive. We played with much more sense of urgency," Scott said.

The Nets trailed by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter and by nine with less than four minutes to play. And with 25.7 seconds to go, they had trimmed the deficit to 98-95 when Nets point guard Jarrett Jack forced a turnover.

In-bounding the ball with a chance to tie the game, the Nets were called for a five-second violation. Bryant then drained four free throws to rebuild the Lakers' lead as chants of "Kobe! Kobe!" echoed around the arena.

Even Jack said he could understand the admiration for a rival player at the Nets' home arena. "It's a guy who's a first ballot Hall of Famer," he said of the crowd's reaction to Bryant, who could be heading into retirement after this, his 20th season.

But the defeat was a bitter disappointment for the Nets who had hoped to reverse their own fortunes against the struggling Lakers.

Instead, they fell to 0-6 and remain in search of a first win of the season, along with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Pelicans.