Lakers Gameday | 12/28/07 | Lakers 123, Jazz 109
Video: Highlights | Phil Jackson Post-Game
Bryant scores 31, then sits for fourth in Jackson's milestone win
Phil Jackson pulled even with Red Auerbach in regular-season victories, 5 1/2 seasons after tying the Boston Celtics coach for the most NBA championships won.
Kobe Bryant had 31 points and seven assists before sitting out the fourth quarter and the Lakers beat the Utah Jazz 123-109 Friday night, giving Jackson his 938th career win and a share of seventh place on the career list.
As fate would have it, Jackson will get a chance to pass Auerbach when the Lakers host the Celtics on Sunday night in the 177th regular-season meeting of the NBA's greatest rivalry. They've faced each other 10 times in the finals, with Boston winning the first eight and the Lakers prevailing in 1985 and 1987.
Jackson, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sept. 7, has won nine league titles as a coach. Three of them came with the Lakers and the other six with the Chicago Bulls -- who won 72 games with Jackson at the helm in 1995-96.
Carlos Boozer led Utah with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Reserve guard Gordan Giricek, banished to the locker room by coach Jerry Sloan during a timeout in the second quarter of Utah's 98-92 loss at Charlotte on Dec. 19, rejoined his teammates after spending the last three games back in Salt Lake City. He spent the entire game on the bench.
The Lakers enjoyed their highest-scoring first half of the season, taking a 75-48 lead with 21 points from Bryant and 13 by Lamar Odom. Andrew Bynum scored eight points in the first 6:20 -- including a pair of alley-oop dunks set up by Bryant and Derek Fisher -- but went to the bench less than a minute later after picking up his second foul.
Kwame Brown, sidelined the previous 19 games because of ankle and knee sprains, played for the first time since Nov. 18 and was the first player off the Lakers' bench. He replaced Bynum with 5:28 left in the opening quarter, and Los Angeles outscored Utah 19-7 over the next 4 minutes to pull ahead 37-21.
From then on, it was no contest. The Lakers took their biggest lead, 91-57, on a layup by Trevor Ariza with 6:57 left in the third quarter and coasted to their fourth straight victory. They shot 54.4 percent from the field, raising their record to 9-0 when shooting at least 50 percent.
Ariza finished with 12 points as all of the Lakers' starters scored in double figures. Brown had seven points and five rebounds in 17 minutes.
Bryant, the two-time defending NBA scoring champ, has scored 30 or more points in three consecutive games for the first time this season after getting 39 at New York and 38 against Phoenix.
Fisher had 10 points and eight assists. It was his first game against the Jazz since Nov. 30, when Utah fans booed the 12-year veteran point guard constantly for leaving the team with three years left on a four-year contract and returning to the Lakers. The primary reason was so he and wife Candace could focus on getting his infant daughter Tatum the best medical care for the cancerous tumor in her left eye.
Jackson is still upset about the rude welcome Fisher received in Utah -- especially under the circumstances of his daughter's condition, and the fact that he helped the Jazz reach the Western Conference finals in his only season there.
"I didn't like that at all. They made it sound like Utah wasn't qualified to handle the situation his child was in -- like it's a backcountry spot," Jackson said. "There was a big deal made about him coming back there. He met with the owner, they were talking on the sidelines, and I think there was a lot of good will that went on with the organization -- even though it was a difficult situation.
"I think the fans there had a different perspective on it entirely," Jackson added. "They felt like they'd been betrayed by him or something. That's the way they reacted -- like he was a traitor. They live and die for their team in Utah, so I guess maybe that's part of what Utah is about."
A recent win over a Western Conference power kept the Los Angeles Lakers on a roll. The Utah Jazz sure hope the one they just got can start one.
With Kobe Bryant still tormenting opposing defenses and Andrew Bynum emerging, the Lakers have been building confidence and could further do so Friday by knocking off a Jazz team coming off arguably its most impressive win.
A season after qualifying for the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the West, Los Angeles (18-10) has won nine of its last 11 games to move into a tie with New Orleans for the conference's fourth-best record.
The Lakers celebrated Christmas with a victory over the team it's chasing for first place in the Pacific Division, beating Phoenix 122-115.
It was their third straight win and second in as many meetings this season with the Suns, who have ousted Los Angeles in first-round playoff series the last two years. The Lakers have also won nine out of their last 11 games.
"We're getting better. It's just about getting better each day," said Bryant, who scored 26 of his 38 points in the second half. "It's good to have games like this. We have a solid foundation, we really do."
Bryant is the biggest part of that foundation and has been particularly good in the past two games, combining for 87 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists.
The 20-year-old Bynum has developed into an integral piece as well. He is averaging 17.9 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.6 blocks over the last seven games while shooting 73.6 percent from the field.
"The best thing about it is he's put in so much work over the summer and now," Bryant said. "The biggest thing for him is he's seeing results. The sky's the limit for him."
Bynum is second in the league in field-goal shooting at 62.5 percent. He has five double-doubles in that span and 15 for the season to rank among the league's top 10.
So does Utah's Carlos Boozer with 22, and he would have eight in a row coming into this matchup if he didn't come up one rebound shy in two of his last three games. He had 21 points, including six of the Jazz's final seven, and nine boards on Wednesday in a 99-90 victory over Dallas.
While the Mavericks entered the game tied for the second-best record in the West after finishing with the league's best record last season, the Jazz are a disappointing ninth overall in the West after reaching the conference finals last season.
"It's a big win for us," Boozer said. "It feels good to be on the other side. We beat a very good team and held our composure at the end for a change. We executed our plays and finished strong."
It was only the third win in 12 games for Utah, which blew fourth-quarter leads in each of its last five defeats.
"We closed out a ballgame for a change," said Utah's Deron Williams, who had 17 points and 12 assists. "We have always felt like we are one of the better teams in the Western Conference, but we haven't been playing that way. Tonight is a move in the right direction."
The Jazz, though, have lost eight of nine on the road, and are facing a Lakers team which has won four straight at home.
Utah has won just two of its last 13 road games versus Los Angeles, including a 119-109 defeat on Nov. 4 in the only matchup at Staples Center this season. The Jazz, though, routed the Lakers 120-96 on Nov. 30 in the most recent meeting behind Williams' 35 points.
Despite that win, the Jazz are only 2-5 when Williams scores at least 25 points. The Lakers, meanwhile, are 9-2 when Bryant scores at least 30.Copyright 2007 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
SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers have split the first two meetings of their season series with Utah 1-1 after winning last season’s series with the Jazz 2-1. The Jazz and Lakers have now met 141 times in the regular season (89-52), 123 times since the Jazz moved to Utah (76- 47). The Lakers have gone 5-5 in their last 10 overall games with the Jazz but had their three-game win streak against Utah snapped with their 96-120 loss November 30 at Utah. The Lakers are 13-3 all-time against the Jazz at STAPLES Center (8-2 in their last 10 home games). In Utah, the Lakers have gone 4-6 in their last 10 road games. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 19-10 against Utah. Last season, the Lakers scored a series record 132 points in a 132-102 victory over the Jazz 11/30/06 in their lone game at STAPLES Center, improving upon the old mark of 131 points achieved at Utah on December 4, 1986. Additionally in that game, Kobe Bryant established a new series-high with 52 points against the Jazz, surpassing his own record of 43 points (3/22/05) while also bettering Adrian Dantley’s Jazz mark of 50 established in November of 1979. Bryant’s 30-point third quarter tied his own franchise record and is tied for the fourth-highest scoring quarter in NBA history. In 38 games against the Jazz (30 starts), Bryant is averaging 25.9 points. Bryant is currently 17 points shy of reaching 1,000 for his career against the Jazz and is averaging 35.0 points against Utah over his last five games. Additionally, Lakers guard Derek Fisher played last season for Utah, appearing in all 82 games, starting 61 and averaging 10.1 points and 3.3 assists in 27.9 minutes.
JACKSON STANDS ALONE IN 8th ONE WIN SHY OF RED AUERBACH FOR 7th
On December 23, Phil Jackson moved past Dick Motta (935) for eighth most in NBA history. Motta, however, coached 1,952 games to reach a record of 935-1017 while Jackson’s career mark of 937-403 (.699) ranks as the highest win percentage in league history.
Additionally, the Lakers victory at Philadelphia on December 21 marked Jackson’s 600th career game with the Lakers. Jackson ranks as the third longest tenured coach in Lakers history behind John Kundla (11 seasons, 734 games) and Pat Riley (9 seasons, 727 games).
BRYANT YOUNGEST EVER TO 20,000 CAREER POINTS, 30 POINTS SHY OF REACHING 30th ON ALL-TIME LIST
At 29 years, 122 days, Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 20,000 career points and the third player ever to reach 20,000 points under the age of 30, ranking ahead of Wilt Chamberlain (29 years, 134 days) and Michael Jordan (29 years, 326 days). Last season, Bryant became the youngest player to reach 17,000, 18,000 and 19,000 career points.
Already the youngest player in league history to accumulate 10,000 – 19,000 career points, Bryant was the 29th fastest to 15,000, the 22nd fastest to 16,000, the 20th fastest to 17,000, the 16th fastest to 18,000, and the 15th fastest to 19,000 points in terms of games. Bryant’s 39-point game in New York December 23 was the 811th for his career, making him the 15th fastest player to 20,000 points in league history, five games shy of Larry Bird (806 games) for 14th. Wilt Chamberlain was the fastest ever to 20,000 career points, doing so in a mere 499 games. (statistical assistance courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau)Click here to read the full Game Notes