Lakers Look for Eighth Straight Over Pacers at Home Tonight
Posted Dec 4 2006 10:52AM
NBA.com Daily Confidential
Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are starting to hit their stride at the same time.
The first-place Lakers (11-5) should have a good chance at winning for the eighth time in their last 10 games as they try to continue their home dominance over the Indiana Pacers on Monday at Staples Center.
With Bryant averaging 36.0 points in his last three games to lead the way, Los Angeles looks to win its third straight overall and eighth straight over Indiana at home.
The Lakers also have won 14 of their last 16 home games over the Pacers and haven't lost to them at home since falling 101-99 on Feb. 14, 1999.
Fresh off a season-high 52 points in a 132-102 win over Utah on Thursday, Bryant had a modest 29 points in the Lakers' 97-88 win over the city-rival Clippers on Saturday.
Bryant, who is ninth in the league in scoring at 26.4 points a game, shot 11-for-23 Saturday and increased his season shooting percentage to 49.0 percent as he looks fully recovered from undergoing offseason arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
``It's just about trusting my knee and trusting my legs,'' Bryant said. ``I know I'm at that point right now where I feel like I know it's going to be there.''
Bryant won't mind seeing the Pacers (9-9) come to town. He averaged 35.5 points in two meetings last season, including a 45-point effort in a 96-90 win on Jan. 9.
The Lakers won their second straight this season over the Clippers on Saturday and continue to play better than their Staples Center co-tenants. The Lakers made 40 of 80 shots Saturday while the Clippers shot only 43.6 percent (34 of 78) from the floor.
``I don't know the reason for our success compared to theirs,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. ``They're perhaps not shooting the ball as well. They've had some injuries that have changed their timing and coordination skills, for instance.''
Lamar Odom, whose play this season has been overshadowed by Bryant's at times, had 18 points against the Clippers and is averaging 19.3 points per game - more than five points per game above his average last season.
The Lakers are 9-2 at home this season and hold a 1 1/2-game lead over Phoenix in the Pacific Division.
Indiana looks to avoid matching a season high with their third straight loss as they try to finish .500 to end a season-high six-game road trip.
Even with a nagging left hamstring injury, forward Jermaine O'Neal scored 20 points and had 16 rebounds in Indiana's 121-101 loss to Denver on Saturday. O'Neal is averaging a team-high 18.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this season, but is averaging only 10.4 ppg and 7.3 rpg in his career versus the Lakers.
Guard Jamaal Tinsley, averaging 12.4 ppg, scored a season-high 25 points and center Jeff Foster matched a career high with 18 rebounds for the Pacers, who allowed the most points scored against them this season.
``When you go and compete like that, it doesn't make you happy,'' Tinsley said. ``They just ran up and down the court and knocked down their shots.''
Starting forward Stephen Jackson left the game in the third quarter with a sore right knee and did not return. Jackson, who's averaging 11.5 ppg this season, did not score in 25 minutes.
The teams split their season series in 2005-06. The teams will meet for the final time in the regular season on Feb. 2 in Indiana.
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