Kobe Erupts for 52, Lakers Roll Over Jazz
Posted Dec 1 2006 12:01PM
L.A. Lakers 132, Utah 102
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 30 (AP)-- The Kobe Show is back.
Looking completely recovered from offseason knee surgery, Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 52 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 132-102 rout of the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.
He made all nine shots from the floor and was 10-for-10 at the foul line in his highest-scoring game since an 81-point outburst against Toronto on Jan. 22 last season. He had 30 points in the third quarter, tying his own team record set during a 62-point effort against Dallas on Dec. 20.
``I felt great. I felt explosive,'' Bryant said. ``It's just about trusting my knee and trusting my legs. And after tonight, I know I'm at that point right now where I feel like I know it's going to be there.''
Coach Phil Jackson did something completely out of character when Bryant left the court for the final time: He gave the Lakers' star a high-five and hugged him.
``It's great to watch Kobe have a great night like that, but I thought our defense stepped up, too,'' Jackson said.
Bryant, whose relationship with Jackson has been rocky at times, said, ``We have such a great relationship. And when I play, I play to please him. So if he stands up (on his surgically repaired hip) and gives me a high-five, then I know I've done my job.''
Bryant, who topped the 50-point plateau for the 12th time in his career, made 11 shots in a row beginning just before halftime and extending through the third quarter. He finally missed when he drove and looped a shot that bounced off the back of the rim with 7:44 left in the game, shortly after he had returned to the floor with the Lakers up by 20.
Jackson said Bryant, who led the league in scoring with a 35.4 average last season, looks as if he's almost fully back in form.
``It's a combination of things he did tonight,'' Jackson said. ``He used his explosiveness, maybe not as dramatic as in the past, but there's still plenty of fire there.''
With Bryant hitting from all over the court, the Jazz began fouling him almost every time he was even threatening to shoot.
Utah coach Jerry Sloan said he didn't think there was anything the Jazz could have done.
``He caught the ball and got on a roll; he just made whatever he caught,'' Sloan said. ``Players like that, they get on a roll and I don't think there's much you can do.
``We had a guy in Milwaukee (Michael Redd last Saturday) score 57 on us, and he got 52. We're having a difficult time trying to guard that position.''
The Jazz still beat Redd and the Bucks 113-111.
Bryant finished 19-of-26 from the floor and 12-of-15 from the line.
He missed the first two games this season as he worked his way back from the surgery, and was averaging 24.1 points going in against Utah.
Led by Carlos Boozer's 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Utah lost for the third time in the last four games after starting the season 12-1. Deron Williams had 13 points and nine assists for the Jazz, whose 13-4 record remains the league's best.
Bryant's third-quarter outburst had the fans chanting ``MVP!'' and gave the Lakers clear command with a 95-73 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. His 30 points were three off the NBA record for a quarter set by San Antonio's George Gervin in 1978.
After a tight first quarter, Bryant made a pair of free throws to cap a 7-0 run for a 43-36 lead in the second after the Jazz got stuck on 36 for more than 4 minutes, ending when Andrei Kirilenko made one of two free throws 2:21 before halftime.
Los Angeles outscored Utah 24-14 in the quarter and was up 53-41 by halftime. Bryant scored 12 second-quarter points.
Notes: The Jazz beat the Lakers 114-108 on Friday in Utah, outscoring them 32-20 in the fourth quarter, including a 7-1 run to end it. Boozer had 31 points and 16 rebounds. Bryant had 27 points in the loss, but just two in the final quarter. ... The teams meet just three times this season, only once in Los Angeles. ... Utah had lost two in a row, to Golden State and Orlando, before bouncing back to beat San Antonio on Wednesday. ... The Staples Center crowd cheered Utah's Derek Fisher, a member of three NBA champions with the Lakers, when he entered the game late in the first quarter.
Copyright 2006 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited