Kobe Bryant won't let a busted nose and a concussion keep him from trying to help the Los Angeles Lakers win games.Sporting a protective mask and coming off another inspired performance, the banged-up Bryant looks to help the Lakers avenge an early season loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday night at Staples Center.After being knocked hard to the floor by Miami's Dwyane Wade during Sunday's All-Star game, Bryant played through the discomfort of his injuries and the mask to post 31 points, eight assists and seven rebounds as Los Angeles (21-14) returned from the break to beat Minnesota 104-85 on Wednesday."Kobe is a special human being," coach Mike Brown said. "I don't have answers for him. I don't know what he's made of. He's just different. His body reacts different."Already bothered a by a torn ligament in his wrist, Bryant has not missed a game this season while averaging an NBA-high 28.5 points. The broken nose and concussion left the 33-year-old with headaches, nausea and neck pain. None of which, however, were enough to keep him off the floor after he passed every concussion test from a neurologist."I understand the severity of the situation," Bryant said. "You have to go through those steps. It's part of the job. ... It's definitely different. In that sense, you're pretty helpless. You just have to be patient and hope for the best."You just have to deal with it and try to heal up as quickly as you possibly can, and get back on the court."The Lakers were glad to have Bryant on the floor as they shot 48.8 percent to win for the sixth time in eight games. Paul Gasol scored 15 points while All-Star Andrew Bynum added 13 with 13 rebounds as Los Angeles took advantage of a surging Minnesota squad playing without ill star Kevin Love.Bryant now looks to help the Lakers avoid a second straight loss to the Kings (12-23), who dropped Los Angeles to an 0-2 start with a 100-91 win at Sacramento on Dec. 26. Though Bryant finished with 29 points, the Lakers shot 42.0 percent and went 1 for 16 from 3-point range."I hope they enjoy this," Bryant said after that contest.Bryant has averaged 31.0 points on 47.9 percent shooting in his last 27 games versus Sacramento, but the Kings have won two of three after losing eight straight in the series. Sacramento snapped a six-game road skid to the Lakers with a 100-95 win Jan. 28, 2011.Sacramento big man DeMarcus Cousins had 27 points with 10 rebounds in that road contest. He finished with 23 and 10, respectively, as the Kings fell for the seventh time in nine games, 108-100 at home to the Clippers on Thursday.Despite the defeat, the city of Sacramento announced Thursday its plan for a new 391 million arena that would keep the Kings in California's capital for at least another 30 years. With that behind them, they return to the road where they snapped a six-game skid away from home with a 115-107 win at Washington on Feb. 22.Sacramento swingman Marcus Thornton has averaged 21.1 points in the last seven road games. He's totaled 60 points on 23-of-39 shooting in the last two meetings against the Lakers, but has combined for 17 in two against them as a reserve at Staples Center.
CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade had 30 points and two key steals in the final minute, Jimmy Butler added 23 points and the Chicago Bulls overcame a 42-point performance by DeMarcus Cousins for a 102-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.
Wade, who had 13 points in the fourth quarter, snapped a 99-all tie by making a free throw with 14 seconds left. He had missed a breakaway dunk after making a steal, but Cousins was called for a foul for putting his hand on Wade's hip as he tried to dunk the ball.
On the next Kings possession, Wade came up with another steal and fed Michael Carter-Williams for a breakaway basket to seal the win.
Cousins was 16 for 28 from the field, including 2 for 7 on 3-pointers, and added 14 rebounds.
Chicago took a 55-52 halftime lead, but Sacramento started quickly in the third quarter and took a 61-59 lead on a Cousins' three-point play. The Kings led by as many as seven points before the Bulls closed with a 12-3 run to take a 75-73 lead into the fourth.
The score was tight throughout much of the final quarter before the Bulls rallied for a 95-91 lead with three minutes to go on a three-point play by Wade. Cousins, though, answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to put Sacramento back on top, 97-95, with just over two minutes left. Wade hit a jumper on Chicago's next possession to tie the score with 1:53 to play.
Following a scoreless possession by each team, Cousins gave the Kings a 99-97 edge with 52 seconds remaining. The Bulls tied it again on Robin Lopez's follow of Butler's miss with 36 seconds to play, setting the stage for Wade.
Kings: They have dropped seven straight in Chicago. Sacramento's last win was a 102-98 victory on Dec. 21, 2009 - a game in which the Kings trailed 79-44 for the largest comeback in franchise history.
Bulls: F Doug McDermott appeared to break out of slump with a 31-point effort (in 33 minutes) against Memphis on Jan. 15, but had a combined nine points on 4-for-13 shooting in the next two games before Saturday. He had three points on 1-for-5 shooting on Saturday.
Kings: Visit the Detroit Pistons on Monday night in the third game of eight-game road trip.
Bulls: At Orlando on Tuesday night. Chicago had a 112-80 victory in the first meeting with the Magic on Nov. 7.
After dropping their fourth straight game Friday night in Memphis, the Sacramento Kings are now just 2-9 over their previous 11 games. They draw the Chicago Bulls on Saturday evening that also lost the night before and have been struggling of late. It’s a battle of the back-to-backs at the United Center.
Sacramento is adjusting to life without second leading scorer Rudy Gay, who is out for the remainder of the season with a ruptured Achilles. Arron Afflalo started in Gay’s place against Memphis and scored just five points and grabbed two rebounds in 25 minutes of action. The Kings need someone to step forward at the small forward position or this eight game road trip is going to get ugly.
Chicago has been a Jekyll and Hyde team all season long. They have plenty of talent, but they can’t seem to find a way to put it all together. They currently sit in the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but they are 2-5 over their last seven contests.
Bulls by 5.5
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 16-26, third place in Pacific
Bulls: 21-23, third place in Central
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Garrett Temple vs. Dwyane Wade -- Temple has been a nice addition for Sacramento, playing minutes at the one, two and three this season for coach Dave Joerger. Temple started at the shooting guard spot against the Grizzlies on Friday night and will likely do the same on Saturday against Wade and the Bulls. Wade isn’t the same player he once was, but the 12-time All-Star can still score in bunches and give the Bulls a much needed second option alongside Jimmy Butler.
Kings: SF Rudy (left Achilles tendon) out for the season, SF Omri Casspi (calf strain) out.
Bulls: No injuries to report.
The Bulls swept the season-series 2-0 last year, including a 109-102 win over Sacramento on March 21. Chicago holds an 80-75 advantage over the Kings all-time and a 33-28 lead during the Sacramento-era.