With Atlanta leading 95-93, Bryant was called for a turnover with 8 seconds left. Bryant, pressured by Johnson, lost control of the ball and was called for over-and-back when he regained possession past the midcourt line.
Bryant and the Lakers argued that Johnson hit the ball.
Josh Smith, who had 17 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and five blocks, hit one of two free throws with 7.1 seconds left to push the lead to three points. Sasha Vujacic answered with a layup for the Lakers with 3.7 seconds left.
The Lakers quickly fouled Johnson, who made two free throws to again push the lead to three. Derek Fisher missed a last-second 3-pointer for the Lakers.
Hawks rookie center Al Horford had 15 points and a career-high 20 rebounds.
On the day Bryant’s old buddy Shaquille O’Neal found a new home out West, Bryant and his new buddy, Pau Gasol, had shooting woes in Atlanta.
Gasol made only five of 14 shots for 12 points. Bryant had 10 assists, but was only 4-of-16 for 11 points. Bryant was scoreless in the second half before hitting a jumper with 1:41 left.
Lamar Odom led the Lakers with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Fisher added 17, and Vladimir Radmanovic had 13, all in the first half.
The Lakers led 76-68 after three quarters and protected the lead despite playing all reserves for the first five minutes of the fourth period. A 3-pointer by Tyronn Lue, who scored 16 off the bench, cut the lead to 80-77, but Vujacic answered with back-to-back jumpers for the Lakers.
Even with Gasol and the other Los Angeles starters back in, Atlanta took an 88-87 lead on two free throws by Al Horford with 3:40 left.
A drive by Bryant tied it at 91.
With Atlanta leading 93-92, Derek Fisher hit one of two free throws with 40.3 seconds left for a 93-93 tie. Johnson made two free throws with 23.2 seconds left.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson scheduled an unusual pregame shootaround Wednesday following Tuesday night’s win at New Jersey. Jackson said he wanted to give Bryant an opportunity to test the dislocated fifth finger on his right hand.
Bryant had the fourth and fifth fingers taped together, and showed no sign of discomfort while playing 37 minutes.
Even so, Bryant was the last of the Lakers’ starters to score in double figures. He recorded his ninth assist, setting up a 3-pointer by Luke Walton, late in the third quarter when he still had nine points.
The Lakers led 53-45 at the break despite Atlanta’s 26-16 edge in points in the paint. The Hawks finished with a 50-32 advantage in the paint.