LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant hit seven 3-pointers while scoring a season-high 38 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped their 10-game losing streak with a 119-115 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
Lou Williams scored 20 points for the Lakers, who avoided the longest losing streak in the 16-time champion franchise’s history despite blowing a 16-point lead in the second half. Los Angeles had lost 10 straight for the first time since 1994.
Bryant took charge with a vintage performance in his farewell season, repeatedly scoring from the perimeter in the Lakers’ first win since Jan. 12.
After Minnesota took the lead in the waning minutes, Bryant put the Lakers back ahead with dramatic back-to-back 3-pointers.
He also drained a 19-footer with 26 seconds last to put them up 113-110.
Bryant hit six free throws in the last 16.7 seconds. He scored 14 of the Lakers’ 18 points in the final 5:02, evoking memories of the best years for the third-leading scorer in NBA history.
Andrew Wiggins scored 30 points and led an impressive second-half surge by the Timberwolves, who have lost five straight and 16 of 18. Gorgui Dieng scored 19 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Wiggins made a turnover with 17 seconds left after Bryant’s big jumper, and Bryant salted away the game at the line amid countless chants of his name from nostalgic fans.
Rookie D'Angelo Russell had 18 points for the Lakers.
The Timberwolves played without injured Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Garnett, whose sore right knee robbed him of his last chance to suit up against Bryant during their two parallel decades in the NBA. The Lakers met Garnett’s Celtics in the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals.
Several Lakers have said they didn’t pay attention to the history behind their streak, but they came out against Minnesota seemingly determined to end it.
Los Angeles roared to a 16-point lead while scoring a season-high 39 points in the second quarter. The surge was led by Bryant and Russell, who was chosen right behind Towns last summer with the No. 2 pick in the draft.
The Lakers still led by 16 late in the third, but Minnesota went ahead on Zach LaVine‘s layup with 5:16 to play.
The game was another crossroads for the Lakers during what’s already the worst three-season stretch in the proud franchise’s history. The only other 10-game losing streak in Lakers history happened in the waning days of the 1993-94 season under interim coach Magic Johnson.
The current Lakers have at least seven losing streaks of four games already this season. Their only winning streak of the season was a three-game run around the new year.
Timberwolves: Before the game, Garnett voiced support for coach Sam Mitchell, saying he sees progress from the struggling club’s youngsters. … Martin missed his fifth straight game with a right wrist injury.
Lakers: Rookie Larry Nance Jr. has been shut down until after the All-Star break to give his sore right knee more time to rest. The Lakers have four more games before their eight-day break. … Los Angeles Rams greats Eric Dickerson and Vince Ferragamo watched the game from a luxury suite.
Timberwolves: At Clippers on Wednesday.
Lakers: At Pelicans on Thursday.