By Mike Weilamann

December 23, 2007: SCOREBOARD | IN FOCUS GALLERY | AROUND THE ASSOCIATION ARCHIVE

PHOTO OF THE NIGHT
Kobe Bryant became the youngest player at 29 years old and 122 days to score 20,000 points with 39 against the Knicks. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"We did our normal thing. We asked the Lord's prayer after a Sunday ballgame. Forgive us our sins and trespasses. We had some trespasses, there's no doubt about it.''

ó Lakers coach Phil Jackson, on his team lapsing early in the fourth quarter when the Knicks closed to within single digits after being down 25 in the third in Sunday's loss at the Garden.
NBA.COM'S FANTASY TAKE
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SHOOTING STUDS
Stephen Jackson, Warriors
105-96 win at Cavaliers
29 pts, 10-19 FG, 7-7 FT

Jamal Crawford, Knicks
95-90 loss vs. Lakers
31 pts, 11-25 FG, 2-8 3-pt FG, 7-10 FT

Kobe Bryant, Lakers
95-90 win at Knicks
39 pts, 14-28 FG, 5-12 3-pt FG, 6-7 FT

STAT SHEET STUFFER
It was your average day at the office for Baron Davis on Sunday. The Warriors point man posted 27 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals in his teamís road victory over the Cavaliers and LeBron James. Davis also played all 48 minutes in outdueling LeBron. Thatís vintage Davis, who rises to the occasion when facing the NBAís elite. They, whoever they are, say itís about giving quality minutes, rather than quantity. Baron is on the bonus plan.
SHOOTING DUDS
John Salmons, Kings
106-105 loss vs. Nuggets
14 pts, 5-17 FG

Tayshaun Prince, Pistons
94-82 win vs. Rockets
13 pts, 3-10 FG

Yao Ming, Rockets
94-82 loss at Pistons
12 pts, 4-13 FG

KOBE BLOSSOMS TO NEW HEIGHTS IN GARDEN WIN
Kobe Bryant could not have picked a better venue for a history-making moment. On Sunday at Madison Square Garden, Bryant became the youngest ever to reach the 20,000-point mark with 39 in the Lakersí win over the host Knicks. Kobe made his return to the Garden ó he was suspended last year when L.A. came to the Big Apple ó a memorable one. To put things in perspective, prior to Kobe only Wilt Chamberlain (29 years, 134 days) and Michael Jordan (29, 326) had gotten to 20,000 points before turning 30. "I always like playing here, period,'' Bryant said after the win. ďLast year I didn't have an opportunity to play and I was upset about it. This is my favorite arena to play in so I'm just happy and relieved that I was able to play tonight.'' Ironically, Kobe told reporters Saturday that New York would be one of the four teams he would accept a trade to. íTis the season for wishes and Knicks fans are already dreaming about Kobe looking quite dandy in blue and orange.
CELTICS MAKE IT LOOK EASY BEING IN GREEN
The Boston Celtics keep slicing and dicing opponents with the precision of a skilled surgeon. Four Boston players finished with 20-plus points in a home victory over the Magic. Paul Pierce led the way with 24 points, followed by Rajon Rondo (23), Ray Allen (22) and Kevin Garnett (21) as Boston improved to 23-3 by beating one of the three teams to knock them off this season. The last time four Celtics topped 20 in one game was May 5, 1999 when Pierce (27), Dana Barros (26), Ron Mercer (23) and Antoine Walker (23) turned the trick in a postseason win over Charlotte. Four Celtics also scored at least 20 in a win over the Timberwolves last season. As good as the Cís have been, keep one thing in mind. Boston has yet to play a road game against a Western Conference opponent. The Cís are 4-0 at home against Western teams this season.
ROOKIE WATCH
Luis Scola has experienced the normal ups-and-downs all rookies go through. After a recent sub-par stretch, Scola is starting to pick it up. He led the Rockets with 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a road loss against the Pistons on Sunday. Scola registered 14 points and 11 boards in Saturdayís victory over the Bulls. Maybe being dropped four spots in our rookie rankings has lit a fire under the Argentine. In any case, Scola has responded after having more fouls and turnovers (nine) than points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks combined (seven) in two games the previous week.
COOL/CLUTCH PERFORMANCE
Linas Kleiza definitely saved his best for last on Sunday. With time winding down, Kleiza nailed a turnaround jumper at the buzzer to lift the Nuggets to a thrilling 106-105 win over the Kings. Kleiza made the game-winner possible with a rebound of Allen Iversonís missed jumper with 2.9 seconds remaining and Denver trailing by one. It was an otherwise pedestrian evening for Kleiza, who posted 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting. The Kings led most of the way, but the Nuggets outscored the hosts 29-18 in the fourth quarter as Iverson led the charge with eight of his 21 in the fourth.
D-LEAGUE STAR OF THE NIGHT
Dwayne Mitchell has been wielding the hot hand in recent games. However his contributions did not result in victories for the Iowa Energy. All of that changed on Sunday. Mitchell poured in a game-high 34 points to go with nine rebounds, nine assists and five steals. Even better was the fact his Iowa Energy snapped a three-game losing streak with a 118-113 victory over the Tulsa 66ers on Sunday. In his previous three games, Mitchell averaged 20 points in three Iowa losses, including a 25-point effort in the Energyís 113-81 loss on the road to the 66ers on Dec. 15.