Kobe’s barrage is one for the books

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson And Bryant might have topped it all with his explanation of the off-balance bank shot he hit with 11.4 seconds left Saturday night to beat the Clippers. “That’s H-O-R-S-E,” he said. “Like when you’re a kid, you just play H-O-R-S-E in the backyard and you throw up all kinds of b.s. and see if it sticks.” Bryant had 40 points in the second half against the Clippers, including the first 11 of the fourth quarter, and laid claim to the NBA scoring crown over the weekend. He has scored 40 points or more in nine games and is averaging 33.7 this season. He set one franchise record by hitting seven three-pointers without a miss against the 76ers and nearly set another with his 40-point second half against the Clippers. Bryant had 42 points in a half against Washington on March 28, 2003. As Lakers coach Phil Jackson put it after Saturday’s game, “We’re getting immune to his heroics at times.” On the first page of the Lakers media guide this season, as part of a tribute to George Mikan, is a photograph of the marquee that greeted pro basketball’s then-biggest star when Mikan arrived at Madison Square Garden for a game in December 1949. It read: “Wednesday Basketball: Geo Mikan vs. Knicks.” As legend has it, Mikan was greeted by his teammates before the game asking if they should wait in the locker room while he played one on five as advertised. Added Bryant: “Phil asked me with two minutes to go in the game (Saturday), he asked me if I needed a breather, just being funny. I said, `Coach, I’ve been shooting all jumpshots tonight. I’m not even tired.’ ” With his 45-point game against Memphis before the suspension, Bryant became the first player since Michael Jordan in 1990 to score 45 points or more in three consecutive games. The Indiana Pacers will get their crack at Bryant tonight, a game for which they sorely could use the suspended Ron Artest as a defensive stopper. The Pacers, one of the NBA’s top five defensive teams, could start out with Stephen Jackson on Bryant. It is still a team game, but Bryant has accounted for nearly one-third of the Lakers’ scoring this season and remains on pace to become only the second player in the last 30 years (Jordan is the other) to take more than 2,100 shots in a season. “We know we’re going to have players step up and make big contributions,” Bryant said. “We’re not going to think about this as being a long-haul thing. We’re just going to take it game by game.” Bryant went 19-of-29 in Friday’s game and 17-of-41 Saturday, connecting on a combined 14-of-22 three-pointers in the two games. He moved from the backcourt to the wing in the triangle offense this season and has seized on the opportunity to be a scorer. The Clippers finally got the ball out of his hands in the fourth quarter, but only after committing Chris Wilcox or Elton Brand to double Bryant at the very start of possessions, leaving forward Brian Cook open for a three-pointer and long jumper. “It’s just a matter of me stepping back into that zone,” Bryant said. “I’m just being aggressive, just attacking these guys, and us as a team, we’re doing a good job spacing. “And (Lamar Odom’s) doing an excellent job facilitating the offense. He takes a lot of pressure off me, where I don’t have to concern myself with playmaking because that’s what he does.” Odom, in particular, was effusive in his praise of Bryant. When Odom couldn’t stop Clippers forward Cuttino Mobley in the third quarter, Bryant went on his scoring barrage and kept the Lakers in a game they trailed by as many as 13. “I felt like him catching on fire like that, like he got my back,” Odom said, later adding, “He wills himself to victory. That’ll rub off on all of us.” Cook, meanwhile, was asked if he thought Bryant had affirmed his status at the NBA’s premier player. “He’s carried us a lot this season,” Cook said. “He gets the job done every night.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img A half-century later, after two transcendent games over the weekend, Kobe Bryant might deserve similar billing on the big board next to Staples Center and the 110 Freeway. Bryant went ballistic in his return from a two-game suspension, following up a 48-point game against Philadelphia with a 50-point effort against the Clippers. The 98 points were the most Bryant has ever scored in consecutive games in his career. last_img