Bryant’s 48 Help Lakers End Five-Game Skid
L.A. Lakers 119, Philadelphia 93
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 6 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant played as if he had something to prove.
Bryant made 7-of-7 3-pointers and scored 48 points in his return from a two-game suspension as the Los Angeles Lakers cruised to a 119-93 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers that snapped a five-game losing streak.
"I have never seen anything like that," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "It was pretty impressive."
Bryant sat out a pair of losses to Utah while serving a suspension for elbowing Memphis guard Mike Miller. His return clearly sparked the Lakers, who established season highs for points, baskets, 3-pointers, shooting percentage, 3-point percentage and victory margin.
In an 85-81 loss in his hometown of Philadelphia on November 11, Bryant had perhaps his worst game of the season, making just 7-of-27 shots as he was hounded by 76ers guard Andre Iguodala. On Friday, he wasted little time letting Iguodala know things would be different.
"Yeah, (Iguodala) is a good defender," Bryant said. "And he is long. But I wanted to send him a little message tonight that the first game was an aberration. I made shots in the first game and missed a lot of them, too. But our offense is better now. When we went to Philadelphia it was early in the season and we really didn't understand the concepts of our game and it made it easy for them to double and to roam around."
"He was Kobe Bryant tonight," Iguodala said. "I was pretty sure he wanted to come back at us because we pretty much hurt him when we played last time."
In the first period, Bryant scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and Parker added 14 points as the Lakers bolted to a 37-22 lead, closing the quarter with a 20-6 surge.
"I was just letting the shots fly," Bryant said. "You know, I don't leave any bullets in the chamber."
The 76ers pulled within eight points in the second quarter before Bryant drilled a 3-pointer and converted a three-point play in the final minute, capping an 11-4 run that rebuilt the lead to 67-52 at halftime. Philadelphia inched within nine points in the third period before Bryant struck again. He sank a jumper over Iguodala while drawing a foul and made the free throw, then sank a pair of 3-pointers for a 94-75 bulge entering the final quarter.
"Kobe makes shots like that," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We kept saying they were incredible shots and they were incredible shots for most people, but with Kobe I don't think they were incredible because he does things like that on an every-day basis."
It was the 48th career 40-point game and eighth this season for Bryant, who overtook Philadelphia's Allen Iverson for the league scoring lead. Bryant pushed his average to 33.16 points while Iverson, a four-time scoring champion, fell to 33.09. Chris Mihm scored 13 points and Lamar Odom added a career-high 12 assists for the Lakers, who held a 43-32 rebounding advantage. Bryant swept 10 boards.
"We just fell right in line with what we are supposed to do," Bryant said. "Lamar is such a great facilitator, he takes a load off of my shoulders. I can just focus on putting the ball in the basket and he becomes the facilitator for our team."
Iverson had 31 points and seven assists but committed seven turnovers. Iguodala scored 14 points for Philadelphia, which was outscored from beyond the arc, 36-6, as it completed a 2-5 road trip.
"We don't have an identity as far as how we play on the defensive end," Iverson said. "We might play well one night and on another night we won't play well. We always score the ball and average 100 points, so obviously our problem is in other areas. Until we take care of those problems, we're going to continue to struggle."