|As usual, the Lakers offense runs through Kobe Bryant, who calls out a play in the fourth quarter of his 39-point effort at New York. (KATHY WILLENS/ASSOCIATED PRESS)|
From the jawing with Spike Lee and Chris Rock to the postgame news conference with his daughters on his lap, Kobe Bryant enjoyed every minute of his return to Madison Square Garden.
Making history made it even better.
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, yesterday.
Bryant added 11 rebounds and eight assists in his first game at the 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.
"I always like playing here, period," Bryant said. "This is my favorite arena to play in, so I'm just happy and relieved that I was able to play tonight."
Before Bryant, only Wilt Chamberlain (29 years, 134 days) 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.
Jamal Crawford scored 31 points for the Knicks, who were again without Stephon Marbury and have lost two straight and 8 of 10.
Nuggets 106, Kings 105 - Linas Kleiza recovered the ball in a scramble and hit a jumper just before the final buzzer sounded, lifting Denver to victory at Sacramento.
After Allen Iverson missed from close, Marcus Camby tipped the ball and Kleiza got possession and nailed the shot while falling away under pressure on the left wing.
Carmelo Anthony had 30 points and 12 rebounds and Camby added 19 points and 14 boards.
Ron Artest scored 24 points for the Kings
Pistons 94, Rockets 82 - Richard Hamilton scored 17 points and Antonio McDyess and Rasheed Wallace added double doubles, helping host Detroit beat shorthanded Houston.
Tracy McGrady didn't come out for the second half after aggravating a sore knee, and Yao Ming missed most of the second half after needing four stitches to close a facial cut.
Warriors 105, Cavaliers 96 - Stephen Jackson scored 29 points and Baron Davis added 27 to help Golden State hand host Cleveland its 10th loss in 13 games.