From Comcast SportsNetLOS ANGELES (AP) -- Just when the Los Angeles Lakers thought their season was fully saturated with weirdness, Kobe Bryant made one shot and committed eight turnovers in one of the worst games of his career -- and the Lakers still beat Phoenix.Although the Lakers keep finding new ways to flummox their fans and themselves, they're also still finding ways to win.Dwight Howard had 19 points and 18 rebounds, Antawn Jamison added 19 points, and the Lakers survived Bryant's bizarre four-point performance for their eighth victory in 11 games, 91-85 over the Suns on Tuesday night.Even in this tumultuous season jam-packed with statistical oddities and high-profile failures, the Lakers' latest victory is a curiosity. Returning from a seven-game road trip, the Lakers hung on to win despite the fifth-leading scorer in NBA history, who had never played this many minutes (36) with just one field goal in his 17-season career.Bryant didn't attempt a shot in the first half and scored his first basket with 2:13 to play, finishing 1 for 8 in his lowest-scoring game since Jan. 13, 2005, when he left a game against Cleveland after six minutes with an injury.Yet after the win, he greeted his horrific statistics with a smile."I thought it was great, actually," Bryant said. "Obviously, scoring four points, going 1 for 8, that's not necessarily a recipe for success. ... But it's not about us as individuals. It's about what we can do to help the team."Bryant counteracted his nine assists -- just one in the second half -- with a raft of turnovers, yet the Lakers survived against one of the NBA's worst teams with big plays from Howard, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace, who scored 17 points. Bryant finally got an 8-foot leaner to fall, keeping the Lakers in control."I guess every 17 years, he's allowed that," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I wouldn't be too tough on him. It was just one of those nights. He was trying too hard to get everybody else involved. You've got to walk the fine line, and he's way over the other line. ... Just write it off and get to the next one."Los Angeles returned from its longest road trip of the season with its fourth straight home win, but Bryant -- the NBA's third-leading scorer this season -- took his recent propensity for playmaking to an uncomfortable extreme, particularly in the first half. Although he blamed the Suns' double-teams, Kobe even passed up fairly decent looks to force passes to his teammates on a few occasions, voluntarily removing his shooting skills from the Lakers' offense."I've been doing that since January, when I was trying to make the right play, keep everybody involved, and then I try to get going a little bit," Bryant said. "But they took away my post-ups to see if the other guys could beat us, or maybe if I'd get frustrated or force things a little bit, but I just took the double-teams and just tried to make the right play."Along with Bryant's disappearing act, the Lakers won despite managing just nine points in the third quarter, their lowest-scoring period of the season. Bryant finally started shooting in the third quarter, but was just as inept as his teammates, missing all five of his attempts.The Lakers didn't make a basket in the third quarter after World Peace's 3-pointer with 8:58 left, and Phoenix took its first lead late in the period despite its own poor shooting while the Lakers missed 16 of their 19 shots and went 9:21 without a basket.Michael Beasley scored 18 points and Luis Scola had 15 for the Suns, who have lost eight of 10."We get so close, play so well in the third quarter and figure it out, and then we went away from it in the fourth quarter for some reason," said Jared Dudley, who scored 10 points.Jodie Meeks' layup reclaimed the lead with 8:40 to play, and the Lakers kept that small advantage down the stretch.The Lakers began their seven-game trip necessitated by the Grammy Awards with a 92-86 loss at Phoenix on Jan. 30, blowing a big second-half lead and losing Howard to the shoulder injury that still dogs him. The Suns were 1-5 since, including an embarrassing loss to Oklahoma City last Sunday."I wouldn't go that far to say that we held (Bryant) down, because he's a great player," Beasley said. "But we did what we wanted to do, as far as our assignments. We just didn't finish. It's a little frustrating. Our defense really hurt us tonight, except for the third quarter. In the first half and the fourth quarter, they got whatever they wanted on the weak side."NOTES:F Earl Clark scored 11 points, but sat in favor of Jamison down the stretch. Clark played the Lakers' entire road trip with pain in his right foot, with the Lakers attributing it to inflammation or tendinitis. Clark says the pain reminded him of a stress fracture from his college career at Louisville, but he intends to play through it. ... Will Ferrell and Shaquille O'Neal watched the game from courtside seats underneath the basket on the Lakers' end of the floor. During a third-quarter timeout, Ferrell donned the red blazer worn by Staples Center security personnel and stood on the court. Later, he jokingly escorted O'Neal off the court.
CLEVELAND – For about 30 or so seconds following Boston’s 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland, Al Horford was not Al Horford.
He’s a passionate player, but seldom is it on display in as outwardly a fashion as it was following their Game 3 victory.
In an interview with CSN’s Abby Chin after the game, Horford tried to put into words what the victory meant.
But the aggressive high-fives to teammates passing him by, the intense way he looked into the camera … that spoke volumes about what this game meant to the veteran big man.
“It’s big, it’s big!” Horford said in between high-fives with Jonas Jerebko and other Celtics who came past him.
“A lot of people doubting us out there!” Horford said, staring intently into the camera as if he was saying, ‘yeah, I’m talking about you!’”
Less than 24 hours after the game, Horford’s emotions had cooled down considerably.
“It was an emotional game,” he told CSN following a short practice at the Q Arena on Monday. “Just, having to hear … since the blowout, everybody counting us out. Everybody really believing that it was over.”
The Celtics came into Game 3 having lost both Games 1 and 2 at home by a combined 57 points which includes the worst playoff loss (Game 2, 130-86) in franchise history.
So with that as the backdrop, knowing full well that no one outside of their locker room gave them an ice cube in hell’s chance at winning Game 3, the victory brought about a level of satisfaction that Celtics players had seldom experienced before if at all.
“The emotions at that time were high for our group,” Horford admitted. “And it shows what we’ve been talking about all year, a resilient group that has a lot of fight in them. We were hit with some adversity with Isaiah being down but our group responded.”
Thomas re-aggravated a right hip injury in Game 2, and was later ruled out for the rest of the playoffs.
After falling behind 77-56 in the third quarter, the Celtics closed out the third with a 26-10 run to come within 87-82 going into the fourth quarter. During the run, Marcus Smart had 11 points which turned out to be equal to LeBron James’ scoring output … for the entire game.
This is Horford's 10th NBA season, all of which have included a trip to the postseason.
That, combined with having won a pair of national championships when he played at the University of Florida, serves as a reminder that the 30-year-old has been on the winning ledger of big games before.
But even he acknowledged Sunday’s Game 3 win was … different.
“I have had plenty of moments like this,” Horford said. “But this was definitely emotional. This was very emotional, exciting, on the road, no one really giving us any chance. To be able to come through like that, it just felt great. I’ve been part of emotional wins, but this one was a special one.”
That was evident in Horford’s energy-charged, post-game comments.
“Heart! Heart! This team got heart!” he yelled. “We got beat bad (in Game 2), but it’s all about how you rebound!”
And we get that message, loud and clear!
CLEVELAND – Gone but definitely not forgotten.
Isaiah Thomas, out for the rest of the playoffs with a right hip injury, wasn’t in the Q Arena physically, but his presence – and his face via FaceTime – were inside the locker room in the initial moments following their 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland.
“We called him right after the game,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “He got to celebrate with us a little bit. It’s sad that he’s not here. We wish he was here with us. We just want him to get better.”
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens added, “I didn’t even realize that had happened until later on. one of my first text messages was from Isaiah. He’s hurting not being out there but he’s completely invested, for sure.”
He initially suffered the injury on March 15 at Minnesota, but re-aggravated it in the first half of Boston’s Game 2 loss to the Cavs. Less than 24 hours later, Thomas was deemed out for the remainder of the playoffs.
Instead of Thomas being the rock of sorts that the Celtics lean on with his play, he has become their rallying cry for the remainder of the playoffs.
“All we can do is play hard for him,” Bradley said. “He was excited with the way we played. We’re a family. Other guys got an opportunity to step up for us. Marcus (Smart) had a big game for us. It could be somebody else next game.”
Smart led the Celtics with a career-high 27 points which included a career-best seven 3’s going down.
And most important, the Celtics avoided going down 3-0 which would have all but sealed their fate in this series considering no team in league history has ever come back for a 3-0 series deficit.
Doing so without Thomas, the Celtics’ leading scorer and the top regular season scorer in the Eastern Conference, made the win all that more impressive for Boston.
“It meant a lot,” Horford said. “We know, Isaiah gives us so much and gave us so much this year. For him, we definitely wanted to come out and fight for him and our season and our team. It felt good to keep believing despite being down big. Just felt good to win the game and bring life back to our locker room. Because going down 3-0, that’s a death sentence pretty much. This was big.”
Not only to the Celtics players but also to Thomas who also texted head coach Brad Stevens full of excitement following Boston’s surprising win.
“He was excited,” Horford recalled. “He was ecstatic. I know he wishes he was here being part of it. We just need to keep doing it for him and our group and doing the best we can.”