The Warriors went ahead 97-95 on Lee's hook shot before Bryant did what he does best: seal wins.
The Lakers leader took the ball in the post and, as Rush and Thompson swarmed, drifted to the corner and floated a tying shot. Thompson had his layup blocked off his leg and out of bounds by Metta World Peace, setting the stage for another Bryant highlight.
Los Angeles ran the same play again and Bryant delivered, hitting a 19-footer to lift Los Angeles ahead. Rush missed a running layup on the other end, and the Lakers cruised to victory the rest of the way on free throws.
Bryant finished 9 for 24 and added five assists and five rebounds. Most of all, he made sure the Lakers avoided a stunning upset.
Golden State had almost as many players on the injury report as the starting lineup.
Point guard Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) missed his ninth straight game and, along with new big man Andrew Bogut (fractured left ankle), is unlikely to play again this season. Andris Biedrins (strained right groin) also wasn't in uniform and Nate Robinson (strained right hamstring) sat out.
The wounded Warriors somehow managed to give the Lakers some competition behind their youngsters.
Three rookies — Thompson, Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Tyler — started, finding ways to keep Golden State close. Los Angeles led 55-48 at halftime and 79-72 entering the fourth, giving themselves a chance at the end — until Bryant took over.
"We had two hands in his face and he still hit two shots," said Warriors forward Dominic McGuire, who guarded Bryant most of the game. "That's Kobe."
NOTES: Thompson's dad, Mychal, drafted No. 1 overall by Portland in 1978, is an analyst on the Lakers radio broadcast and called the game courtside. ... Golden State hosts New Orleans on Wednesday night, while the Lakers get a day off before hosting Oklahoma City on Thursday night in a pivotal Western Conference matchup.
Follow Antonio Gonzalez at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
- Brad Rock: Bowl drama shows BYU not going...
- Utah offensive coordinator Dave Christensen...
- Dick Harmon: BYU basketball strength coach...
- Utah Jazz legend John Stockton, Weber State...
- Video: Former USU running back Robert...
- Brady Poppinga: Confronting an unlikely opponent
- Both BYU and Memphis to review bowl game brawl
- These 14 Utahns reminded us why we love...
- Wild one: Memphis edges BYU in... 174
- Sitake, Tuiaki leaving Utah for Oregon... 116
- Miami Beach Bowl ends in free-for-all... 97
- Dick Harmon: Cougar bowl loss kind of... 59
- Brad Rock: Bowl drama shows BYU not... 55
- Miami Beach Bowl ends in brawl between... 52
- Both BYU and Memphis to review bowl... 49
- Report: Video games experts, BYU head... 45