SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers split last season's series with Miami 1-1, defeating the Heat in their first meeting (12/4/09) on a Kobe Bryant one-foot, running, bank-shot three-point field goal from the top, left side of the arc at the buzzer but dropping the second meeting 111-114 in overtime at Miami (3/4/10). This will be the 45th meeting between the two franchises with the Lakers holding a 29-15 all-time lead. The Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10 meetings with the Heat. In Los Angeles, the Lakers have gone 7-1 in their last eight home games against Miami and are 8-3 all-time against the Heat at STAPLES Center. In Miami, the Lakers are 4-6 in their last 10 games. Under head coach Phil Jackson, Los Angeles is 13-7 versus Miami. Lakers forward Lamar Odom played one season for the Heat, averaging 17.1 points and 9.7 rebounds in 80 games. Following that season, Odom was acquired from the Heat by the Lakers along with Caron Butler, Brian Grant and a future first round draft pick in exchange for Shaquille O'Neal. In 25 games including 21 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 24.9 points against Miami and holds the high individual game for the series with 42 points on Christmas Day against the Heat in 2004. Miami's Dwyane Wade and LeBron James played alongside Kobe Bryant on the gold medal winning US Men's Olympic Basketball Team at the 2008 Summer Olympics inBeijing.
In 14 career games against the Lakers, James is averaging27.9pointsper game (390) with his team posting an 8-6 record in those contests. Heat assistant coach Bob McAdoo played four seasons with the Lakers from 1981-85, helping Los Angeles to two NBA Championships (1982, 1985) while averaging 12.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in the regular season and 13.4 points and 5.5 rebounds in 61 postseason games. Heat President Pat Riley won four NBA Championships as head coach of the Lakers, posting a regular season record of 533-194 (.733) and a 102-47 (.685) postseason mark in nine seasons with the team.
LAKERS ON CHRISTMAS
In 1947, the NBA played its first games on Christmas Day (3 total) and through 2009, the league has seen a total of 207 Christmas Day games in all. The Lakers relationship with Christmas Day games dates back to 1949 and the team's second season in the NBA. On December 25, 1949, the Lakers hosted Ft. Wayne, defeating the Pistons 72-58 in the team's first ever Christmas day game. Now in their 63rd NBA season, the Lakers have played on Christmas Day 36 times, second only to the New York Knicks (45), going 20-16 in those games. With 20 victories, the Lakers are tied with New York for most Christmas Day victories by a team in league history. Overall, the Lakers are 11-7 all-time when home for the holidays while going 8-8 in away games (1-1 in neutral court games).
This will be the Lakers 12th straight Christmas Day game dating back to 1999, with Los Angeles going 4-7 in that span. It will also be the Lakers 4th Christmas Day game against the Heat. The Lakers are 0-3 against Miami in their previous three Christmas Day meetings, losing 102-104 in overtime 12/24/04 vs. Miami, 92-97 12/25/05 at Miami and 85-101 12/25/06 at Miami. Among Christmas Day opponents, only Phoenix (6), Detroit (5) and Boston (4) have faced the Lakers as many times as the Heat.
CHRISTMAS DAY NUMBERS
This Christmas, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal will each be playing their record-tying 13th game on December 25th, equaling the mark held by Dolph Schayes and Earl Monroe. Additionally, Phil Jackson suited up for 10 Christmas Day games as a player and has coached in 17 more (7-0 Chicago, 4-6 LA Lakers). Bryant (304) ranks 2nd all-time in Christmas Day points scored behind Oscar Robertson (377). Additionally, Bryant ranks 4th in assists (68) on Christmas Day behind Robertson (145), Guy Rodgers (71) and Walt Frazier (69).
KOBE BRYANT LEADS ALL PLAYERS AFTER 1st ROUND OF ALL-STAR BALLOTING
On December 16th, the NBA announced its FIRST returns of 2011 NBA All-Star balloting with Kobe Bryant (722,682) LEADING all players in All-Star voting, ahead of Orlando's Dwight Howard (611,561) and Miami's LeBron James (607,994). Pau Gasol (390,808), who made his third All-Star team last season as a reserve, ranks 2nd among forwards in the West behind Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (470,881). Andrew Bynum (198,044) ranks 2nd among West centers behind Houston's Yao Ming (430,984), while New Orleans' Chris Paul (386,649) ranks 2nd among West guards behind Bryant. In the East, James and Boston's Kevin Garnett (456,111) lead the forward voting, Miami's Dwyane Wade (570,489) and Boston's Rajon Rondo (497,141) are the top two vote-getters at guard and Howard leads all East centers in balloting.
In each of the last three seasons, Bryant has led the Western Conference in all-star balloting. Last season, Bryant received 2,456,224 votes, finishing second overall to Cleveland's LeBron James (2,549,693). In 2008-09, he accumulated 2,805,397 votes, finishing third in overall balloting behind Dwight Howard (3,150,181) and James (2,940,823). In 2007-08, Bryant garnered 2,004,940 votes to finish fourth in overall voting behind Kevin Garnett (2,399,148), James (2,108,831) and Howard (2,066,991). In 2006-07, when he earned his second All-Star MVP, Bryant finished third overall in balloting behind James and Yao Ming. A three-time All-Star MVP (2002 Philadelphia, 2007 Las Vegas, 2009 Phoenix), Bryant is a 12-time All-Star and had started 11 consecutive All-Star games before missing last year's contest due to a sprained left ankle. Bryant, who was the youngest All-Star in NBA history in 1998, led all players in NBA All-Star balloting in 2003. Gasol has made three All-Star appearances (2006, 2009, 2010) and in 2009, became the 27th Laker in franchise history to be named to an All-Star team.
BRYANT NOW 3RD ON NBA FRANCHISE CAREER POINTS LIST
Last season, with his 29th point on February 1, 2010 at Memphis, Kobe Bryant surpassed Jerry West as the Lakers all-time leading scorer. In the history of the NBA, only two players have scored more points with a single franchise than Bryant (26,535): Karl Malone (1st/36,374) and Michael Jordan (2nd/29,277). This season, Bryant has moved past Hakeem Olajuwon (26,511) for 3rd on this list (12/19 at Toronto) and John Havlicek (26,395) for 4th (12/10 at Chicago).
With their 109-94 victory in Indiana on December 15th, the Lakers recorded their FIFTH wire-to-wire win of the season. The Lakers other wire-to-wire victories came against the Warriors (10/31 vs. GS, 11/21 vs. GS), Grizzlies (11/2 vs. MEM) and Wizards (12/7 vs. WAS). Last year, the Lakers claimed NINE wire-to-wire victories (games in which they never trailed); seven during the regular season and two during the 2010 Playoffs (4/18 & 4/27 vs. Oklahoma City). During their previous championship run in 2008-09, the Lakers claimed 11 wire-to-wire victories; nine during the regular season and two during the 2009 Playoffs (4/29 vs. Utah & 5/17 vs. Houston). Last season, the Lakers also lost twice in wire-to-wire fashion (98-107 1/8/10 @ POR and 75-91 3/26/10 @ OKC).
BRYANT PASSES JOHN HAVLICEK FOR 11th ON NBA'S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
With 23 points at Chicago (12/10/10), Kobe Bryant passed John Havlicek (26,395) for 11th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Should he continue to score anywhere near his current pace (25.7 ppg), Bryant (26,535) would move to 6th on the all-time list by season's end. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant are Dominique Wilkins (10th/26,668), Oscar Robertson (9th/26,710), Hakeem Olajuwon (8th/26,946), Elvin Hayes (7th/27,313) and Moses Malone (6th/27,409).
Bryant has been steadily moving up the list over the past few years and last season alone, passed Alex English (25,613), Reggie Miller (25,279), Jerry West (25,192), Patrick Ewing (24,815) and Allen Iverson (24,368). In passing West with a slam dunk at the 4:14 mark of the third quarter February 1, 2010 at Memphis, finishing the game with 44 points (West's retired number), Bryant became the leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. In 2008-09, Bryant passed Hall-of-Famers Charles Barkley (23,757), Robert Parish (23,334), Adrian Dantley (23,177), Elgin Baylor (23,149), Clyde Drexler (22,195), Gary Payton (21,813) and Larry Bird (21,791).
NO REST, NO PROBLEM
In their second game of a back-to-back set with the Wizards and Pacers, Kobe Bryant scored 31 points in a 109-94 victory at Indiana. Bryant's average of 29.0 ppg in the second game of back-to-back sets is the highest in the NBA this season. The Lakers have played five sets of back-to-back sets on the year, with Bryant scoring 30 points 11/3 @ Sacramento, 33 points 11/17 @ Detroit, 27 points 12/1 @ Houston, 24 points 12/8 @ LA Clippers and 31 points 12/15 @ Indiana (all 2nd of back-to-back games).*
This season, the Lakers are 4-1 in the first game and 4-1 in the second game of back-to-backs. On the year, the Lakers will play 15 sets of back-to-back games as opposed to the 20 they faced a season ago. The only other time the Lakers have played 15 or fewer sets of back-to-backs came in the team's first ever NBA season (1948-49) when they also played 15 sets of back-to-backs. Chicago, Milwaukee and Atlanta lead the league with 23 back-to-backs each in 2010-11 while Oklahoma City (17), Phoenix (16) and the Lakers (15) will play the fewest sets this season.
Known for his clutch shooting, Derek Fisher delivered once again for the Lakers in their 87-86 victory over the Clippers on December 8th, this time in game-winning fashion with a running three-foot layup high off the glass as the buzzer sounded. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since the stat began being tracked prior to the 2000-01 season, Fisher now has five game winning field goals, four in the regular season and one in the playoffs (FGM in last 10 seconds of the 4th quarter or overtime). Only two, however, have actually come with the Lakers; the other being his famous 0.4 second buzzer beater 5/13/04 at San Antonio (74-73 win). Fisher's other game winners came with Utah (2/10/07 vs. NY (104-102 win) and Golden State (3/25/05 vs. MIL (118-117 win), 12/28/05 vs. BOS (111-109 win)).
Last season, teammate Kobe Bryant connected on six game-winners; the most game winning field goals of any player in a single season over the last 10 years (Carmelo Anthony ranks second on this list with five game-winning field goals in 2005-06). Since the start of the 2000-01 season, Bryant has 20 field goals that have given his team the lead within the last 10 seconds of a fourth quarter or overtime, the most in the league over that span.