ESPN: Kobe Bryant scored 39 points, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to reach 20,000, and the Los Angeles Lakers held off the New York Knicks 95-90 Sunday.
Bryant added 11 rebounds and eight assists in his first game at Madison Square Garden in nearly two years. His 3-pointer in the opening minute of the third quarter allowed him to reach the milestone at 29 years, 122 days.
Before him, only Wilt Chamberlain (29, 134) and Michael Jordan (29, 326) had gotten there before turning 30.
Bryant’s last basket came in the final minute after the Knicks had trimmed a 25-point deficit to one. The victory capped a 3-1 road trip for the Lakers, who headed home to host Phoenix on Christmas Day.
Jamal Crawford scored 31 points for the Knicks, who were again without Stephon Marbury and have lost two straight and eight of 10. David Lee had 12 points and 13 rebounds, and Nate Robinson scored 16 points.
Despite a sometimes sloppy effort that included no assists in the second quarter, the Knicks were spared the usual wrath of their fans, who instead seemed content to cheer Bryant and Andrew Bynum, a New Jersey product.
In fact, fans cheered when Bryant had to get off the bench to return to the game early in the fourth quarter after the Knicks closed within single digits. Sasha Vujacic then made a 3-pointer and Jordan Farmar knocked down a jumper, seemingly putting Los Angeles back in control at 80-68 with 9:45 to play.