Lakers,Clippers Battle For L.A. Supremacy
Posted Dec 2 2006 1:38PM
NBA.com Daily Confidential
Kobe Bryant is showing he's confident after offseason knee surgery. His scoring average usually gets a healthy boost when he plays the Los Angeles Clippers.
Coming off the 12th 50-point game of his career, Bryant looks to continue his success against the Clippers (7-7) when the Lakers (10-5) meet their city rivals for the second time this season.
Bryant scored a season-high 52 points in the Lakers' 132-102 rout of Utah on Thursday night, his highest-scoring game since an 81-point outburst against Toronto on Jan. 22 last season. He made all nine shots from the floor and was 10-for-10 at the foul line in scoring 30 points in the third quarter, tying his own team record set during a 62-point effort against Dallas last Dec. 20.
``I felt great. I felt explosive,'' Bryant said. ``It's just about trusting my knee and trusting my legs. ... I know I'm at that point right now where I feel like I know it's going to be there.''
Before Thursday's contest, Bryant's highest-scoring game of the season was in a 105-101 win over the Clippers on Nov. 21, when he had 40 points. He is averaging 40.1 points in his last seven games against the Clippers.
``He is one of the only guys I know who can single-handedly take the will from a team,'' Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. ``He can take the heart out of you with his bare hands.''
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Bryant, who led the league in scoring with 35.4 points a game last season, looks as if he's almost fully back in form. Bryant missed the first two games this season as he worked his way back from the arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in July, and was averaging 24.1 points going into the Jazz game.
Bryant finished 19-of-26 from the floor and 12-of-15 from the line Thursday.
The Clippers will be the home team Saturday against their neighbors at Staples Center. They snapped a five-game losing skid with a 105-90 win over Memphis on Wednesday night.
The Clippers never lost more than five in a row last season en route to a 47-35 record, which was the second best in franchise history behind the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves (49-33).
One night after shooting an NBA season-worst 30.6 percent from the field and missing 17 of their final 18 shots in a 93-80 loss at Sacramento that dropped their road record to 0-6, the Clippers were back in their comfort zone Wednesday before a receptive Staples Center crowd and won for the seventh time in eight home games.
``We're 7-1 at home, and we still feel we gave one away against Seattle here. So we feel like we should be undefeated at home,'' said forward Elton Brand, who is averaging a team-high 10.7 rebounds per game.
Cuttino Mobley connected on his first nine shots against the Grizzlies, added a buzzer-beating 3-pointer off a steal to end the second quarter, and finished with 24 points to lead the Clippers. Mobley has made 50.0 percent (12-for-24) of his shots from beyond the arc.
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