By Dave McMenamin
SCOREBOARD: Jan. 7, 2006 | AROUND THE ASSOCIATION ARCHIVE
PLAY OF THE DAY
LeBron says "Hi basketball, meet hand."
Video: NBA TV Top 10

KB8 achieved his seventh career 50-point game in the Lakers' win.
Terrance Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images
NBA Photo Exhibit: Jan. 7, 2006

SHOOTING STUDS
Kobe Bryant, Lakers
112-109 win at Clippers
50 pts, 17-41 FG,
7-15 3-pt FG, 9-10 FT

Kirk Hinrich, Bulls
111-82 win vs. Grizzlies
26 pts, 9-12 FG,
4-6 3-pt FG

Cuttino Mobley, Clippers
112-109 loss vs. Lakers
36 pts, 12-18 FG, 2-2 3-pt FG, 10-11 FT

SHOOTING DUDS
Jiri Welsch, Bucks
96-88 loss at Cavaliers
0-6 FG, 1 pt

Raef LaFrentz, Celtics
103-102 loss at Wizards
2-8 FG, 0-4 3-pt FG, 4 pts

Brevin Knight, Bobcats
108-92 loss at Magic
3-11 FG, 9 pts


STAT SHEET STUFFER
On a night that saw Andrei Kirilenko and Drew Gooden fill out the boxscore like Horatio Sanz putting on a cummerbund, Kobe Bryant was the ultimate stat man as he finished with 50 points, eight rebounds and eight assists and a steal in the Lakers' 112-109 win over the Clippers. Bryants biggest number? Twenty-two points in the fourth quarter to lead his team over their crosstown rival.

RICK KAMLA'S FANTASY TAKE
Drew Gooden put up the type of numbers he used to drop when he was wearing number zero for the Kansas Jayhawks. He was fierce on the boards with 17 including seven on the O-glass and when you combine that with his 14 points it makes him a solid pickup at the forward spot.

D-LEAGUE STAR OF THE NIGHT
Desmon Farmer scored 39 points on 11-for-21 shooting in Tulsa's 100-98 loss to the Arkansas RimRockers on Saturday. Farmer also shot 14-of-15 from the foul line and snagged four rebounds.
GAME OF THE NIGHT
It was an away game for the Lakers at the STAPLES Center on Saturday night as the Clippers had on the white uniforms, but Kobe Bryant looked right at home. The Lakers seemed to be headed towards a comfortable victory when a Bryant jumper put the Lake Show up 102-90 with 5:35 remaining, but Cuttino Mobley and Elton Brand spearheaded an 8-0 spurt to get the Clips right back in it. Brand scored on a turnaround move on the block with 25 seconds left to complete the comeback and give the Clippers a one-point lead as "MVP!" chants showered down from the stands. The ensuing possession went to Bryant, who beefed up his own MVP campaign as he knifed through the lane and finished off the glass with 11 ticks left to regain the lead for the Lakers. The shot capped a 50-point night for Kobe, 40 of those coming in the second half. The Clippers turned the ball over on their next possession as Smush Parker stole an errant Shaun Livingston pass and finished the play on the other end with an emphatic dunk to give the Lakers a three-point lead with four seconds left. The Clippers got one more chance to tie the game, but Mobley's three, which ended up all-net, was released well after the final horn and the Lakers won 112-109.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"Before he took that 3, Scalabrine came over and said, 'Get ready, it's coming.'
"And he made it, too."

- Washington coach Eddie Jordan, on Celtic Brian Scalabrine's confidence before connecting on a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left to put Boston up one, but the Scalabrine's trifecta wasn't enough in the C's 103-102 loss to the Wizards.

STORYLINES OF THE NIGHT
1. Jazz On Tune In Motown
The Detroit Pistons would be 26-3 this season if wasn't for the Utah Jazz. The Jazz improved to 2-0 against Detroit and 17-17 overall, tops of the Northwest Division, on Saturday with their 94-90 win in Detroit. Ben Wallace beasted 16 rebounds but the Pistons were out-rebounded 56-41 by the Jazz and Mehmet Okur, who bested Wallace's beastly effort by one as he finished with 17 rebounds and 13 points against his former team. "Maybe it's that we don't need extra motivation against them," said Andrei Kirilenko, who pulled down 11 rebounds. "They're the best in the league, they won the championship two years ago and (are) playing like champions now. That just motivates us more."

2. Who Is Best In The West?
The Suns won for the sixth time in the last seven games as they beat the Spurs at home 91-86. Steve Nash scored 22 points and dished out 10 assists to Tony Parker's 18 and six while Shawn Marion added 20 points and 10 boards to neutralize Tim Duncan's 19 and 12. Phoenix exacted some revenge on San Antonio for beating them 97-91 on Nov. 19 and for the Spurs' four games to one dominance of them in the 2005 Western Conference Finals. The Spurs are now 26-8, first in the Southwest Division, and the Suns 22-11, tops in the Pacific. The Suns have been without the services of super-forward Amare Stoudemire all season. Stoudemire is expected to return around the All-Star break in February, which may tip the debate in favor of Phoenix when it comes to deciding the toughest team in the Wild Wild.

3. Bron Bron Beats Bucks
Maybe LeBron James grew up just really liking Barney because whenever he goes up against the purple and green of the Milwaukee Bucks this season, something triggers in his game to share, play and have fun -- even more than usual. James scored 35 points on 14-of-22 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds and looked like a kid sharing his Teddy Grahams with the lunch table as he dished out six assists in Cleveland's 96-88 home win. In his two previous games against the Bucks this year, Sweet Baby James scored 52 points, and recorded a triple-double. In three games against the Bucks this season, James is averaging 39.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8.0 assists. "I love you, you love me..."

ROOKIE WATCH
Deron Williams led his team into Detroit where only one other team (Washington in double-OT) had come out victorious all season and helped guide the Jazz to a 94-90 win. The point guard out of Illinois scored 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting and added three rebounds, an assist and a steal in 28 minutes of work and bounced back from a 0-for-5, two-point performance against the Grizzlies on Friday.

COOL/CLUTCH PERFORMANCE
Dirk Nowitzki struggled early on Saturday, but shined late. The floppy-haired forward scored 13 of his 26 points in the final period, including nine in the last 2:25, as the Mavericks rallied from a late seven-point deficit for an 83-79 victory over Minnesota. Nowitzki started slow with only five points in the first half but was clutch down the stretch. "We really dug deep," Nowitzki said. "We got in late last night. We were tired but sometimes that's what you have to do, fight through some fatigue and compete. For our team, I've got to stay aggressive and make stuff happen offensively. It was good enough to win the game."

SIXTH MAN OF THE NIGHT
With Chris Paul out of the lineup with a thumb injury, the Hornets needed someone to step up on Saturday and that someone was Craig "Speedy" Claxton. Claxton scored a career-high 29 points in 31 minutes off the bench to guide the Hornets in a hard-fought 101-93 loss. The fifth-year guard out of Hofstra also had four steals, four rebounds and two assists.