Lakers Gameday | 11/06/09 | Grizzlies
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Vintage Kobe carries Lakers past Grizzlies
Bryan Chu, for NBA.com
LOS ANGELES (NBA.com exclusive) -- Feet soaking in a tub of ice and leaning back in a chair, Kobe Bryant couldn't help but be in a chipper mood.
The league's leading scorer not only helped hand a 114-98 throbbing over the Grizzlies on Friday, but he also accomplished another milestone.
Bryant, 31, became the youngest player in NBA history to eclipse the 24,000-point mark. Bryant also recorded his third, 41-point performance in four games, on an efficient 19-for-30 shooting.
Asked how he felt, Bryant smiled and said "old."
"It's a great honor, to think back all the years that I've been here, all the things I've learned and mentors I've had, it's more so a testament to them."
The Lakers (5-1) have won four straight and have done so shorthanded. On Friday, the Lakers had both 7-footers sidelined, Pau Gasol (right hamstring) and Andrew Bynum (right elbow), but backup centers DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell managed to fill the void.
Mbenga filled the stat sheet early, recording nine rebounds in the first quarter and finished with 13 rebounds, five points and four blocks. Little-used Powell, who had 13 points, ran the floor well and even hit a 3-pointer.
There were nine lead changes in the first half and Memphis had a 51-49 lead at half behind the play of their three top scorers, Rudy Gay (22 points), Zach Randolph (21 and a game-high 15 rebounds) and O.J. Mayo (15).
But, it was the defensive end, mainly against Bryant, that left Memphis (1-5) on the losing end.
All night long, Mayo drew the assignment of Bryant and was baffled. By the third quarter, Bryant had four uncontested dunks against the undersized 6-foot-4 Mayo. If he wasn't faking Mayo out in the post, Bryant was falling away and hitting tough mid-range jumpers.
"He hits them on a lot of people," Mayo said. "I just happened to be that victim, that guy tonight.
"As a team we have to see that if one guy gets rolling, we have to bring that double-team and get it out of his hand. We weren't told to double-team. Hopefully that's a scheme we put in when we face them again."
Bryant said his offseason work with Rockets great Hakeem Olajuwon was a major reason why he has been so adept in the post this season.
"I'm not just out there wasting my time, wasting Hakeem's time," Bryant said. "You can't do nothing [against that] Dream Shake, man."
Asked what Lakers coach Phil Jackson felt about Bryant's performance, he lauded his killer instinct.
"What can I say?," Jackson said. "This is a guy that sees a weakness in a team and exploits it. Tonight they didn't seem to put their finger in the dyke; they just let the leak continue, so he kept going down in the post."
The Grizzlies have lost four in a row and are 0-4 on their Western Conference road trip with their final game against the Clippers on Saturday.
"We're all highly disappointed in ourselves," Mayo said. "As a group, as a team, we have to stay strong and stay firm."
If there's a positive for the Grizzlies it's that for three quarters, they managed to keep the Los Angeles' lead to single digits. It was midway through the third, however, when the Lakers got hot. A Derek Fisher assist to a wide-open Bryant for a double-pump, reverse jam ignited a 12-3 run capped by a Fisher 3-pointer, which gave the Lakers a 75-64 lead with 3:55 left in the third. Bryant had 15 in the quarter on 7-for-10 shooting. Bryant's scorching touch ended the quarter when he rattled in a 19-foot jumper before the buzzer to give the Lakers an 87-75 lead. As a team, the Lakers hit 16-for-24 shots in third period.
"What was it, eight straight shots?" Gay said. "It's tough when he's on like that for any team. For the most part he was the only one scoring. He was hitting some tough shots. We played some pretty good defense on him and he hit some tough shots.
"We're playing good halves, we have to put together a whole game. We haven't done that yet."
Notes: Gasol, who has been hampered by a right hamstring injury, was warming up before the game. Asked if he would be ready against New Orleans on Sunday, Jackson said, "I think so." The 7-foot Spaniard hasn't played a game since Oct. 10. "I'm already frustrated and a little disappointed it's taking this long for my taste," Gasol said. "Right now I'm just taking it one game at a time and not trying to get ahead of myself." ... Lamar Odom celebrated his 30th birthday with three points and fouled out in 30 minutes ... Ron Artest had his second straight solid game with 19 points ... Reserve Allen Iverson had a quiet night with eight points in 21 minutes.
Lakers’ Coach Phil Jackson on Kobe Bryant’s performance tonight:
“What can I say? This is a guy who sees a weakness in a team and exploits it. And tonight Memphis didn’t seem to want to put their finger in the dyke; they just let the leak continue. So we just kept going down on them, we have the size and the advantage against this team and we took advantage of that. It was killer instinct out there tonight.”
On Josh Powell:
“He has been our most reliable substitute this year off the bench. He is shooting the ball well and he is much more comfortable playing this offense, he knows the niches he can find and our players know how to use him well too.”
On DJ Mbenga:
“DJ struggles physically; he is not as athletic as he has been in the past because of it. The way he started the game that strong gave us a dominant feel inside, so we thought we could exploit it inside and it was the reverse.”
On Ron Artest:
“He had to play multiple spots tonight. Gay is a very talented player, he is one of those young players who has come into the league in high draft position, and he is trying to mature on the team whole struggling to win games, and that is a tough match-up for Ron and I thought he did a really good job. We put him on Randolph and he got into some foul trouble, he was just kind of an all purpose player out there. The thing I like about Ron so far is that he makes plays. He does half the scoring, looks at the pass and gets the ball to players that are open.”
On the offense with Ron vs. Lamar:
“We really didn’t use Ron out there in the guard positions but we did use him in the play making position and he does an adequate job, but he will get better at that too.”
On whether or not Andrew Bynum will play on Sunday:
“Well we hope so; it is all about pain medications right now.”
Lakers player Kobe Bryant on his efficiency tonight:
“We played well and shot well. I got to the posts a lot and I got great positioning.”
On playing with Hakeem Olajuwon’s tips:
“I’m not just out there wasting my time, I’m wasting Hakeem’s time. When I go down there it’s serious.”
On the Lakers’ first half performance versus the second half:
“I think in the second half we stepped up defensively. We got second chance points a lot and got loose balls. When the second unit came in it gave us a big lift; once we cracked about 14 to 15 [points ahead] we kept our foot on the gas for the most part.”
Lakers player Pau Gasol on which game he thinks he may be coming back:
“I’m thinking about tomorrow, I’m not really thinking about the other games. I’m already frustrated; this recovery has been slow for my taste. So right now I’m thinking about one day at a time and not getting ahead of myself.”
Lakers player DJ Mbenga on stepping in as a starter tonight:
“I just came out to do my job. When you are playing with guys like Lamar and Kobe, you just have come out and compete.”
On the satisfaction with the way he played tonight:
“As a player I will never be happy. Maybe when I retire I will be happy. But as a player I always want to do better.”
Lakers player Luke Walton on the Lakers’ passing and high number of assists:
“We score a lot better and play a lot better when we are moving the ball around as a team. You get that second, then third pass, we have so many talented players that second you have a good shot. That’s why we had so many assists tonight.”
On Kobe Bryant’s effect on the game tonight:
“Kobe is one of the bests in the game. And when they weren’t double-teaming him we’ll just keeping feeding the ball to him. Then eventually when they do start doubling him, we’ll get a guy open on the weak side and numbers crashing the glass.”
Lakers vs. Grizzlies Game Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN, STATS Senior Writer
Pau Gasol doesn't expect to make his season debut for the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. That's definitely good news for his former team as it tries to slow down Kobe Bryant.
It's unlikely Gasol will play against the Memphis Grizzlies, who have lost three straight as they get ready to visit Bryant and the Lakers.
Gasol has yet to see action due to a right hamstring injury, although it seems he is close to coming back. He averaged 16.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in last season's four-game sweep of Memphis (1-4), where he played his first six-plus seasons.
Coach Phil Jackson expects the 7-footer to practice this weekend and possibly play even though Gasol believes he is not ready yet.
"We'll have a limited practice as it is, with back-to-back games," Jackson said. "There won't be a whole lot of activity, but he should be out there."
Los Angeles (4-1) has been forced to rely even more on Bryant in Gasol's absence and the NBA's leading scorer has delivered. Bryant has sandwiched 41-point games around a 31-point effort, and has helped deliver back-to-back overtime wins on the road.
Bryant scored the Lakers' final four points, including the go-ahead jumper, in a 101-98 win at Oklahoma City on Tuesday. Los Angeles was forced to go past regulation again Wednesday as Bryant scored six points in overtime of a 103-102 win over Houston.
"Experience was the key," forward Lamar Odom said. "We toughed it out at the end. Kobe took over the game and really helped us spread the court."
The Lakers may have suffered a blow when center Andrew Bynum sprained his elbow late in Wednesday's game. His status is uncertain for Friday.
"The elbow (stinks)," Bynum said. "I can hardly lift it up. We'll take pictures and we will see what they say. They took a whack at me and that was that."
Pau Gasol's brother, Marc, has played well in his second season for Memphis, averaging 17.6 points on 60.4 percent shooting and 12.6 rebounds. But he and the rest of the Grizzlies have been overshadowed by Allen Iverson's complaints about his reserve role.
Iverson was not happy about seeing 18 minutes off the bench in his Memphis debut Monday in an overtime loss at Sacramento. He scored 18 points in 27 minutes Wednesday in a 113-105 loss at Golden State.
Memphis, 0-3 on a five-game road trip, is allowing a league-high 115.2 points per game.
"Not a lot of players like to play defense (but) winning teams play defense," Iverson said. "Some nights you're not going to be able to throw a rock in the ocean but if you still play defense you give yourself a chance to win."
Iverson is likely not seeing major minutes at shooting guard because Memphis is building around leading scorer O.J. Mayo, who is averaging 20.6 points after leading all rookies with an 18.5 average in 2008-09.
The Grizzlies lost their first 13 road games against the Lakers before winning five of the last nine.
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Andrew Bynum (strained right elbow) is doubtful.
Pau Gasol (right hamstring strain) is doubtful.
Darrell Arthur (right pectoralis surgery) is out.
Marko Jaric is not with the team.
SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers swept last season’s with Memphis 4-0 after taking the 2007-08 series from the Grizzlies 2-1. This will be the 54th meeting between the two franchises and the 31st since the Grizzlies moved to Memphis. The Lakers lead the all-time series 40-13 but are just 18- 12 versus the Grizzlies since the team moved to Memphis. In their last 10 meetings with Memphis, the Lakers are 7-3, having won four straight and 6 of their last 7 overall. The Lakers are 5-5 in their last 10 home games against Memphis and are 14-5 all-time at STAPLES Center against the Grizzlies. In Memphis, the Lakers have gone 5-5 in their last 10 road games but are winners of their last four straight at FedExForum. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 26-9 against the Grizzlies. In their most recent meeting 4/12/09 at STAPLES Center, the Lakers held Memphis to a Grizzlies series-low 75 points, surpassing the old record of 79 points set back on 2/14/05 @ Memphis. Individually, Kobe Bryant is averaging 23.9 points for his career against the Grizzlies in 47 games (40 starts). In 2007-08, Bryant scored an NBA season-high 53 points March 28, 2008 at STAPLES Center. Three seasons ago in Memphis, Bryant scored a series-high 60 points, becoming only the 3rd player in NBA history to score 50 or more points in three consecutive games 3/22/07. Additionally, the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol from Memphis in exchange for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie and the draft rights to his brother, Marc Gasol, on February 1, 2008. On December 22, 2008, the brothers Gasol faced off in the NBA for the first time, with Pau (15 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks) bettering his brother Marc’s line (8 points,7 rebounds). In four games against his former team, Pau is averaging 16.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.00 steals and 1.25 blocks. Both brothers played for Spain in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Pau remains the franchise leader in 12 statistical categories, including points (8,966), rebounds (4,096) and blocks (877) in six-plus years with Memphis.
BRYANT 26 POINTS SHY OF IVERSON ON ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
With 41 points November 4th against the Rockets, Kobe Bryant (23,986) moved within 26 points of Allen Iverson (24,012) for 16th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Bryant moved to 17th on the list with his first two free throws on April 10th at Portland last season, passing Charles Barkley (23,757). Barkley reached his scoring total in 1,073 games over 16 seasons in contrast to Bryant, who did so in his 946th career game. In all last season, Bryant passed Robert Parish (23,334) for 18th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, Adrian Dantley (23,177) for 19th, Elgin Baylor (23,149) for 20th, Clyde Drexler (22,195) for 21st, Gary Payton (21,813) for 22nd and Larry Bird (21,791) for 23rd. Additionally, in passing Baylor, now only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (24,176) and Jerry West (25,192 points) have scored more points with the Lakers than Bryant. Next on the NBA’s all-time list ahead of Bryant and Iverson are Patrick Ewing (24,815) and Jerry West (25,192).
BRYANT APPROACHES 24,000 POINTS CAREER POINTS
With 23,986 career points, Kobe Bryant now stands 14 points shy of becoming the 15th player in NBA history to score 24,000 points. Should Bryant (31 years, 74 days as of 11/5/09) reach the 24,000-point milestone in the next month and a half, he would become the youngest player in NBA history to score 24,000 points, reaching the milestone ahead of Wilt Chamberlain (31 years, 113 days). In terms of games, of the 15 players to score 24,000 points, Bryant stands to become the 9th fastest to do so, having played 953 games to date. Wilt Chamberlain was the fastest in league history to score 24,000 points, doing so in just 653 games.
Last season, with 34 points February 10 vs. Oklahoma City, Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to score 23,000 points (30 years, 171 days), reaching the milestone FIVE days younger than Wilt Chamberlain (30 years, 176 days). In terms of games, of the 21 players to score 23,000 points, Bryant was the 11th fastest to do so, reaching the mark in 917 games. Earlier in the year, with 28 points December 2 at Indiana, Bryant became the 22nd player in NBA history to score 22,000 points and in doing so, became the 2nd youngest player ever to 22,000 points (30 years, 101 days), one day older than Wilt Chamberlain (30 years, 100 days) who scored his 22,000th point on 11/26/66. The youngest player in league history to accumulate 14,000 – 20,000 and 23,000 career points, Bryant became the 12th fastest to 22,000 points in terms of games, reaching the mark in 881 career games. Through his career, Bryant has been 29th fastest to 15,000, 22nd fastest to 16,000, 20th fastest to 17,000, 16th fastest to 18,000, 15th fastest to 19,000, 15th fastest to 20,000, 12th fastest to 21,000, 12th fastest to 22,000 and 11th fastest to 23,000 points in terms of games.
JACKSON NEARS LARRY BROWN FOR 5th ON THE ALL-TIME COACHING WIN LIST
A season after earning his record 10th NBA Championship as a head coach, Phil Jackson (1,045-436) is now just two wins shy of tying Charlotte Bobcats head coach Larry Brown (1,047-848) for 5th on the NBA’s all-time coaching win list. The only coach in league history to win better than 70 percent of his games (.706), Jackson ranks 12th in all-time regular season games coached and 1st in playoff games coached (300), won (209) and playoff winning percentage (.697). Last season, Jackson became the fastest coach in NBA history to reach 1,000 career victories, needing 1,423 games to reach the mark. Earning induction in his first year of consideration, on September 7, 2007, Jackson was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In the Lakers November 4th victory over Houston, Kobe Bryant scored 41 points, marking the 98th time in his career that he has scored 40-plus points in a game and the second time this season. Last season, Bryant posted four 40-plus point games. Bryant’s 46 points February 1, 2008 at Toronto moved him past Elgin Baylor (88 40-plus games) for third all-time and into first in Lakers franchise history. In the history of the NBA, only two players have more career 40-point games: Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173). The Lakers are now 67-31 in games that Bryant has scored 40-plus points. This season, the Lakers are 2-0 when Bryant scores 40-plus.
The Lakers returned 2-0 from their first road trip and set of back-to-backs of the season, winning in overtime in both Oklahoma City and Houston. On the season, the Lakers are 1-0 in the first game and 1-0 in the second game of back-to-backs. This year, the Lakers will play 20 sets of back-to-back games, the most the team has played in a single season since playing 22 sets of back-to-backs during the 1999-00 campaign. Last year, the Lakers played 19 sets of back-to-backs, going 14-5 in the first game and 14-5 in the second as well.
The 2009-10 Lakers preseason roster includes 12 players from last season’s NBA Championship team, one more than in 2008-09 when the Lakers brought back 11 players from the Western Conference Championship squad. This will be the 4th consecutive season in which the Lakers have returned at least 11 players, having brought back 12 players to start the 2007-08 season and 11 to start the 2006-07 campaign. However, only Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher remain from the Lakers 2000-02 title runs with Fisher rejoining the team prior to the 2007-08 season after spending the previous three years in Golden State and Utah. The longest tenured Laker after Bryant and Fisher is Luke Walton, who joined the team as a rookie in 2003-04. Shannon Brown, Andrew Bynum, Jordan Farmar, Pau Gasol, DJ Mbenga, Adam Morrison, Lamar Odom, Josh Powell & Sasha Vujacic all return from a year ago while Ron Artest is the lone new addition to the Lakers roster.
GASOL LEADS SPAIN TO EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP, NAMED TOURNAMENT MVP
On Sunday, September 20, Pau Gasol posted 18 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots in leading Spain to an 85-63 victory over Serbia at the final of the 2009 European basketball championship in Poland. Gasol, who was named tournament MVP, helped Spain earn its first European title after six runner-up finishes. With the victory, Gasol is currently a member of the reigning NBA Champions, the reigning FIBA World Champions (led Spain to the 2006 FIBA World Championship while earning tournament MVP honors) and the reigning European Champions. Additionally, last summer, the highly decorated Spaniard helped his country to a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing as well, coming up just short with a loss to a United States team led by Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant in the Olympic finals.
KOBE BRYANT JERSEY MOST POPULAR IN EUROPE FOR 2nd CONSECUTIVE YEAR; PAU GASOL RANKS 3rd
On October 1, 2009, the NBA announced that Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers tops the list of most popular NBA jerseys in Europe for the second straight year. Coming off his fourth NBA title in 2009, Bryant also has the most popular jersey in the U.S. The top four most popular jerseys remain unchanged from last year with Kevin Garnett (Boston) at No. 2, Pau Gasol (LA Lakers) at No.3 and LeBron James (Cleveland) at No. 4. The Most Popular NBA Jerseys in Europe list is based on sales from retail locations across Europe during the 2008-09 NBA season.