Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - With his team's playoff hopes hanging in the balance, Kobe Bryant launched late game heroics with 23 points in the fourth quarter, lifting the Los Angeles Lakers to a 104-96 victory over the New Orleans Hornets at Staples Center
Bryant was just 2-for-7 before the start of the final frame, but willed his club to a win that puts them back in eighth seed of the Western Conference playoffs.
The Lakers hold a one-half game lead over Utah, which lost to Oklahoma City earlier Tuesday.
Bryant finished with 30 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals, while Paul Gasol totaled 22 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles, which was coming off a loss to the Clippers. The Lakers have four games left on their schedule.
Dwight Howard had 19 points and the Lakers saw the return of Metta World Peace, who miraculously was ready to play just 13 days after surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. He scored four points.
New Orleans was led by 22 points from Eric Gordon. Rookie Anthony Davis contributed 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Hornets, losers in nine of their last 10 road games.