NEW YORK -- At halftime, Kobe Bryant walked off the court and gave a nod of approval.
It was not for how the Los Angeles Lakers were playing while holding a five-point lead. It was for how his legs were starting to feel and helping him knock down some shots.
Bryant shook off a slow start to score 18 points and the Lakers picked up their defensive intensity, rallying from two 11-point deficits for a 104-98 victory over the winless Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.
"I was nodding my head to my legs like finally SOBs woke up a little bit and (I started) knocking down shots," Bryant said. "That's what that was."
Bryant started what possibly might be his penultimate appearance in the New York area by missing his first six shots and not scoring a point until hitting a free throw early in the second quarter.
With the crowd cheering every time Bryant touched the ball and chanting his name toward the end of Los Angeles' first win, Bryant finished 5-of-16 from the field in 31:02.
"I thought they were pro-Kobe," Lakers coach Byron Scott said of the sellout crowd of 17,732 fans. "I thought we had our share of fans in there, but he had a ton of fans in there. It is great the fans appreciate him the way that they do and they're showing their appreciation."
Nets guard Jarrett Jack said, "We understand what it is. It's a guy who's a first ballot Hall of Famer. We understand what it is."
While Bryant received adulation from the crowd, Scott was appreciative of a defense that held the Nets to 19-of-47 from the floor in the second half and forced 16 turnovers while outscoring Brooklyn 96-79 in the final 40-plus minutes.
"We were just much more aggressive," Scott said after watching his team allow 464 points in the first four games. "We played with much more sense of urgency."
Bryant was among six Lakers to reach double figures.
Rookie guard D'Angelo Russell had 16 and second-year guard Jordan Clarkson also scored 16 as the duo went a combined 12-of-21 from the floor. Forward Julius Randle added 14 points and reserve guards Lou Williams and Nick Young chipped in 10 apiece.
"It feels great to get a win, honestly," Russell said. "Just to know what it takes and to know what it feels like to get your first win is great."
Center Brook Lopez led the Nets (0-6) with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Joe Johnson added 22 and Jack had 18 as the Nets remained winless despite reaching their second-highest point total of the year.
"It's tough," Johnson said. "Knowing the record of both teams and us being at home. I feel like we had a great chance of winning tonight. We came up short."
Bryant and Russell were actually on the bench when the Lakers began pulling away and on the court when the Nets tried to come back.
Bryant converted a highlight-reel reverse layup for an 83-74 lead with 10:06 remaining. He came out with 8:41 remaining and the Lakers expanded the lead to 92-81 on a basket by Nick Young with about seven minutes remaining.
With about four minutes remaining, a majority of the fans began loud chants of "Kobe, Kobe, Kobe," and with 3:45 left Bryant returned to a loud ovation. The Lakers led 94-87 when Bryant checked in again, but the Nets scored the next six and were within 96-93 after a layup by Johnson with 1:32 remaining.
The Nets pulled to 98-95 when guard Jack hit a long jumper with a foot on the line with 29.5 seconds left. Jack then stole the inbounds pass by center Roy Hibbert with 24.2 seconds remaining, but forward Thaddeus Young was called for a five-second violation when he could not make the inbounds pass and Bryant iced it by making four throws in the final 23.9 seconds.
"It's just what it was, a five-second call," Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins said. "We didn't get it in time."
NOTES: Lakers F Kobe Bryant, asked before the game if he thought about Sunday potentially being his last appearance at Madison Square Garden, he said, "Absolutely." Bryant said he appreciates moments but conceded Sunday will be "a little different this time around." ... Brooklyn G Rondae Hollis-Jefferson grew up idolizing Bryant in suburban Philadelphia and made his first career start. Hollis-Jefferson was a 1-year-old when Bryant went from Lower Merion (Pa.) High School to the Lakers in 1996. ... The Nets announced that they will own an NBA D-League team called the Long Island Nets starting next season. The team will spend next season in Brooklyn before moving to renovated Nassau Coliseum. ... Lakers coach Byron Scott said some of his younger players could see reduced playing time if mistakes persist. For emphasis, he invoked an old saying from his playing days: "That wood has a way of talking to your butt, too."