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Bryant reaches milestone in Lakers’ win

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ATLANTA — Kobe Bryant reached a career milestone and helped the Los Angeles Lakers win for only the second time this season.

Bryant scored 28 points, surpassing 32,000 for his career, and led the Lakers to a 114-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday at Philips Arena.

Bryant joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan as the only four players to reach 32,000 points in their careers. Bryant needs 291 more points to catch Jordan (32,292).

“It means a lot,” Bryant said. “I can’t stress how much work it took to get to this position, to play this long and to score that many. It means a lot.”

Bryant scored nine in the fourth quarter, including a vintage fade-away jumper, followed by a free throw that put the Lakers up six with one minute left.

Hawks guard Kyle Korver hit a deep 3-pointer to cut the deficit to two, 111-109, with 7.7 seconds to play. Lakers point guard Ronnie Price made one of two free throws to push the lead to three, and Hawks center Pero Antic missed an open 3-pointer that would have tied it.

“Pero was wide open,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I’ll take that kind of look down three. The execution, the reads and the decisions were good.”

Lakers guard Nick Young made his season debut after being out nearly six weeks with a torn ligament in his right thumb. The charismatic Young provided early energy, coming off the bench in the first quarter and draining a 3-pointer off a pass from Bryant at the end of the first quarter. He finished with 17 points.

“It was just good to see Nick back,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “His energy is contagious.”

Atlanta forward Paul Millsap had 29 points, and point guard Jeff Teague added 23. A flying Teague dunk from the middle of the lane followed by a Millsap 3-pointer cut the Lakers’ lead to 103-100 with 2:52 to play. But the Hawks could never get the lead in the second half and suffered their first home loss of the season.

Los Angeles forward Jordan Hill, who played his high school ball in Atlanta, finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers.

The Lakers controlled the first half behind 19 points from Bryant and 18 from forward Carlos Boozer.

Los Angeles shot 61.4 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Hawks by seven in the first half.

“It frustrating, especially coming off of our last game (a 127-94 loss at Cleveland),” Korver said. “We didn’t play any defense in that game either. You’d think we’d have more of a sense of urgency, so that’s frustrating. If we’re not going to play defense or rebound, we’re not going to win many games. We have to do better.”

The Hawks scored the first 13 points of the second half, highlighted by guard Thabo Sefolosha’s open-court steal from Bryant and dunk that cut the Lakers’ lead to two. Bryant was scoreless in the third quarter, but L.A. was able to hold off Atlanta’s challenge and took a 91-83 lead into the fourth quarter on a corner 3-pointer from Young.

NOTES: Hawks F DeMarre Carroll missed his fourth straight game with a groin strain. … The Lakers were missing F Ryan Kelly (hamstring), G Wayne Ellington (personal), PG Steve Nash and F Julius Randle (leg). … Ellington is expected to rejoin the Lakers later this week. His father was killed in a shooting last week in Philadelphia. … Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told a Los Angeles radio station Tuesday that he “hopes they (Lakers) suck forever.” The Lakers are at Dallas on Friday. … Referees were Scott Foster, Eli Roe and Michael Smith.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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