LOS ANGELES - Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers waited until the third quarter to get going last night. Once they did, the San Antonio Spurs couldn't stop them.
Bryant scored all but two of his 27 points after halftime, including a go-ahead, 10-foot jumper in the lane with 23.9 seconds remaining, and the Lakers rallied from 20 points down to beat the Spurs, 89-85, in Game 1 of the NBA's Western Conference finals.
Game 2 will be played tonight before the best-of-seven series shifts to San Antonio for the third and fourth games. The Lakers are 7-0 in the postseason at the Staples Center, where they have won 13 straight games overall.
Bryant's jumper put the Lakers ahead after two free throws by Manu Ginobili with 1 minute, 22 seconds remaining, and a follow shot by Tim Duncan with 41 seconds left tied the game at 85. Ginobili then missed a three-point attempt, and Sasha Vujacic made two free throws with 7.3 seconds remaining to complete the scoring.
The Lakers outscored the Spurs, 24-13, in the fourth quarter, when San Antonio shot 3 for 21, including 1 for 9 from three-point range.
Bryant also had five rebounds and nine assists. Pau Gasol had 19 points and seven rebounds, and Vujacic and Vladimir Radmanovic scored 10 points apiece for the Lakers.
Duncan led the Spurs with 30 points, 18 rebounds and four blocked shots. Tony Parker added 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists; Bruce Bowen had 12 points; and Ginobili, shooting just 3 for 13, scored 10 for the Spurs.
Two straight baskets by Bryant cut San Antonio's lead to three with eight minutes remaining. Bowen made a three-pointer with 7:38 left, but the Spurs then went cold, going scoreless for nearly 61/2 minutes.
The Lakers took advantage, scoring 10 straight points to take their first lead. Bryant put them ahead for the first time with two foul shots with 2:42 left, and added a jumper 24 seconds later after a turnover to make it 85-81.
The Spurs had outscored the Lakers, 14-2, to start the third quarter for a 65-45 lead, drawing groans from the crowd of 18,997.
Suddenly, the Lakers came together, scoring 14 straight points in 3:05 to draw within six. Bryant had seven points and two assists during the run.
Ginobili's three-pointer ended a four-minute drought, and the Spurs led, 72-65, entering the fourth quarter.
Duncan dominated the inside in the first half, getting 16 points and nine rebounds as the Spurs took a 51-43 lead.
Shadowed by Bowen wherever he went, Bryant made only one of three shots in the half and went without a free throw. In the Lakers' previous 10 playoff games, he had averaged 33.3 points and 13.4 attempts from the foul line. Lakers coach Phil Jackson joked after the third quarter that Bryant had been on vacation.
Backcourt mate Derek Fisher, averaging 11.9 points in the playoffs, went scoreless until the fourth quarter, when he scored four.