Despite nearly 25 minutes from Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t top FC Barcelona. The NBA champs went down 92-88 to the current Euroleague kings at the Palau San Jordi in a tie badged as an unofficial world club championship.

Bryant – who only played six minutes in a loss against Minnesota in London on Monday – shot just 2-for-15, with the majority of his 15 points coming from the foul line as he continues his comeback from off-season knee surgery..

Pau Gasol put on a better show for his former club – top scoring for the Lakers with 25 – but all-in-all it was another poor show for the American team, who shot a dreadful 34.1% and missed all 14 of their three-point attempts.

The hero of the night was Barcelona’s Pete Mickeal and his ridiculous 26 points, 13 boards and 7 assists while Juan Carlos Navarro (aka La Bomba) had 25 points on 7-for-21 shooting.

“It was physical, and despite the fact we missed a lot of outside shots, we held on to get the win,” Navarro said.

The hosts led 45-44 at half-time but had to rally from behind after Ron Artest’s slam capped a 17-4 run by the Lakers to take a 61-49 lead midway through the third. But Barcelona responded and outscored the visitors 18-7 to move ahead 68-67 before Gasol completed a three-point play to reclaim a two-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

The Lakers were outplayed down the stretch and, even with Bryant on the floor, they struggled to respond after the game was tied at 72-72 midway through the fourth quarter.

A 3-pointer by Mickael put Barcelona ahead 84-78 with under three minutes to go. The Lakers fought back to within two but Navarro sealed the win from the free throw line.

“They played very well tonight but they wouldn’t be competitive in the NBA,” insisted Lakers head coach Phil Jackson. “They aren’t at the level of our competition, where you have to play so many back-to-back games. They don’t have the physical capacity or the height to do it. And in any case, you can’t read anything into today’s win.”

It is only the sixth time a European team has beaten an NBA counterpart and the first since Real Madrid defeated Toronto three years ago. Previously, Barcelona defeated the Philadephia 76ers in 2006 but this time, they spoilt Gasol’s homecoming parade.

“You always want to win, but it was an emotional game,” the local favourite said. “The fans enjoyed it, and the atmosphere was spectacular. We lost, but when your friends win you have to be happy for them.”

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