SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers have split the first two games of the 2010-11 series with Phoenix 1-1 with two games to remaining after taking last season's series from the Suns 3-1. The Lakers have won three consecutive season series against the Suns overall, each by a 3-1 margin. This will be the 216th meeting between the two teams with the Lakers leading the all-time series 126-89. The Lakers are 16-7 against the Suns all-time at STAPLES Center during the regular season and 7-3 in their last 10 regular season home games against Phoenix. On the road, the Lakers have gone 5-5 in their last 10 regular season visits to Phoenix and are 5-2 in their last seven regular season games at US Airways Center. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 27-15 against the Suns during the regular season. In 51 career games against the Suns including 44 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 25.7 points. In February of 2009, Bryant shared MVP honors with then Sun Shaquille O'Neal at the 2009 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix. Additionally, during the 2008-09 season, the Lakers defeated the Suns by 26 points 2/26/09 at STAPLES Center. The 26-point margin of victory was the Lakers largest over the Suns since January 4, 2002 when Los Angeles defeated Phoenix 118-86 at STAPLES Center. Suns guard Jason Richardson and forward Jared Dudley were teammates in Charlotte with Shannon Brown while Lakers forward Luke Walton and Suns center Channing Frye were teammates at Arizona for two seasons (2001-02, 2002-03). Also, Suns assistant coach Bill Cartwright won three championships as a center for Phil Jackson's Bulls from 1990-92 and served as an assistant coach under Jackson from 1996-98 when the Bulls won their final two championships of the 90's.
BRYANT PASSES DOMINIQUE WILKINS FOR 10th ON NBA'S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST; 39 POINTS SHY OF OSCAR ROBERTSON FOR 9th
With a driving lay-up with 6:43 left in the third quarter 1/4 vs. Detroit, Kobe Bryant passed Dominique Wilkins (26,668) for 10th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Earlier this season, with 23 points at Chicago (12/10/10), 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 (25.2 ppg), Bryant (26,671) would move to 6th on the all-time list by season's end. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant are 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).
Wednesday's game at Phoenix is the second of a back-to-back set with the Pistons and Suns. This season, the Lakers are 5-2 in the first game and 5-1 in the second 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.
RARE HOME STRUGGLES
On Christmas Day, the Lakers lost by 16 points to Miami. In their previous game 12/21 vs. Milwaukee, they lost by 19 points. With both losses coming at home, it was only the 3rd time in franchise history that the Lakers lost back-to-back home games by at least 16 points. The team was in Minneapolis for the previous two, once in January 1959 and once in November/December 1959.* The Lakers, however, snapped the two-game skid with a 102-98 victory over Philadelphia on December 31st, avoiding their first three-game home losing streak (by any margin) since March of 2008: 3/23 vs. GS (111-115), 3/26 vs. CHA (95-108), 3/28 vs. MEM (111-114). The last time the Lakers lost three straight home games, each by double-figures, came in January/February of 1993: 1/18 vs. HOU (90-110), 1/20 vs. SEA (101-111), 2/2 vs. ORL (97-110).
Additionally, with an 85-104 loss 1/2/11 vs. Memphis, the Lakers dropped their second home game of the year by at least 19 points, the first time that has happened since the 2000-01 season when Los Angeles lost 1/7/01 vs. LAC (95-118) and 3/28/01 vs. SAC (84-108). The Lakers haven't dropped three home games by a minimum of 19 points since the 1994-95 season (11/16/94 vs. NY (89-110), 12/9/94 vs. LAC (84-109), 3/17/95 vs. BOS (92-118)).
CLEANING THE GLASS
In the first half of their 103-88 victory December 29th at New Orleans, the Lakers shot a season-high .676 from the field while limiting the Hornets to just seven rebounds in the first 24 minutes. The Hornets seven rebounds (4 offensive, 3 defensive) equal the fewest ever for a Lakers opponent in a half, matching the Mavericks total of seven in a half 2/4/86 vs. Dallas.
In their victory at New Orleans on December 29th, the Lakers posted season-highs for field goal percentage in a quarter (1st quarter/.750), half (1st half/.676) and game (.586) after connecting on only 37.9 percent of their shots in the previous two games combined. Additionally, it was the first time this season that each of the Lakers starters (Artest, Gasol, Bynum, Bryant, Fisher) shot 50 percent or better from the field in the same game.*
KOBE BRYANT LEADS ALL PLAYERS AFTER 2nd ROUND OF ALL-STAR BALLOTING
On December 30th, the NBA announced its SECOND returns of 2011 NBA All-Star balloting with Kobe Bryant (1,153,694) LEADING all players in All-Star voting, ahead of Dwight Howard (988,572) and LeBron James (969,459). Pau Gasol (597,201), who made his third All-Star team last season as a reserve, now ranks 3rd among forwards in the West behind Kevin Durant (735,521) and Carmelo Anthony (602,516). Andrew Bynum (376,283) ranks 2nd among West centers behind Yao Ming (637,527), while Chris Paul (585,690) ranks 2nd among West guards behind Bryant. In the East, James and Kevin Garnett (712,555) lead the forward voting, Dwyane Wade (938,402) and Rajon Rondo (777,310) 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.
With their 102-98 victory vs. Philadelphia on December 31st, the Lakers recorded their SIXTH 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), Wizards (12/7 vs. WAS) and Pacers (12/15 @ IND). 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 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 (26,671): 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).
Entering the Lakers game at Phoenix, Derek Fisher has played in 448 consecutive regular season games dating back to April 15, 2005, the longest consecutive games streak among all active NBA players. Fisher moved into the top position after Portland's Andre Miller (632) missed the Blazers game against Phoenix (12/7/10) due to NBA suspension. Additionally, Fisher has started 326 consecutive regular season games dating back to January 15, 2007, tops among all active players by more than a season's worth of games (2nd – Luis Scola). Former Laker A.C. Green holds the NBA record for most consecutive games played with 1,192 dating from 11/19/86 – 4/18/01 while a member of the Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.
BUMP IN THE ROAD
With their loss December 28th at San Antonio, the Lakers saw their five game road win streak come to an end while extending a different, rather dubious streak. In falling to the Spurs 82-97, the Lakers lost three consecutive games by double-figures for the first time since March of 2007, when they lost five consecutive games by 10 or more points (3/6/07 – 3/15/07, 4 road losses, 1 home).
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.
With 41 points November 28th versus Indiana, Kobe Bryant scored 40+ points for the 105th time (regular season) in his NBA career. Bryant last topped the 40-point mark in the regular season back on February 1, 2010 at Memphis when he scored 44 points while passing Jerry West to become the Lakers all-time leading scorer. Last season, Bryant eclipsed the 40-point mark eight times, with the Lakers going 7-1 in those games. 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 72-33 all-time in games that Bryant scores 40+ points. Bryant holds the Lakers franchise record for 40- point games in a single season, recording 27 during the 2005-06 campaign. Bryant also holds the franchise record for most consecutive 40-point games (9), established during the 2002-03 season. Only Wilt Chamberlain (14 twice, 10 once) has had longer consecutive 40-point game streaks in league history than Bryant.
GASOL'S PERFECT SHOOTING NIGHT
With 28 points, nine rebounds and five assists while shooting 10-for-10 from the field and 8-for-8 from the free throw line on 11/21 vs. Golden State, Pau Gasol became just the third player in the NBA's shot clock era to record a perfect shooting night from the field and the line with at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists. The only other players to accomplish this rare feat are Gary Payton in January of 1995 (32 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists (14-14 FG, 3-3 FT)) and Charles Barkley in March of 1989 (31 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists (10-10 FG, 9-9 FT)). Additionally, Gasol became the fifth Laker in franchise history to convert at least 10 field goals without a miss in a single game and the first to do so since Byron Scott went 10-for-10 2/26/86 at Dallas. Wilt Chamberlain converted a franchise record 14-of-14 field goals without a miss 3/11/69 vs. Detroit with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (11-11 FG twice) and Mitch Kupchak (11-11 FG) rounding out the list.
PERFECT NIGHT FOR BARNES
In the Lakers 112-95 victory 11/19 at Minnesota, Matt Barnes came off the bench to score 24 points on a perfect night from the field and free-throw line (7-7 FG, 5-5 3FG, 5-5 FT). Since the NBA instituted the three-point shot prior to the 1979-80 season, only two other bench players have been perfect from the free-throw line and from three- point range with at least five attempts in each category in the same game. New Jersey's Bostjan Nachbar shot 6-for-6 from three-point range and 5-for-5 from the free- throw line on 4/15/07 and Craig Ehlo shot 5-for-5 from three-point range and 7-for-7 from the charity stripe for Atlanta on 1/30/96.*
BARNES JOINS BARKLEY FOR UNIQUE DISTINCTION
With 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists 11/19 at Minnesota on a perfect 7-of-7 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line, Matt Barnes joined Charles Barkley as the only other player in NBA history to post a minimum 20-point, 5-rebound, 5-assist night while not missing a single shot, with a minimum of 5 field goal attempts AND 5 free throw attempts. Barkley posted 31 points, seven rebounds and six assists on a perfect 10-of-10 from the field and 9-of-9 from the free throw line in a 135-122 victory over the Spurs back on March 24, 1989 with the 76ers. Ironically, just one game later, Pau Gasol became the third player in NBA history to do so, posting 28 points, nine rebounds and five assists on 10-of-10 shooting from the field and 8-of-8 shooting from the foul line in the Lakers victory 11/21 vs. Golden State.*
In their 116-121 loss to Phoenix on November 14th, the Lakers and Suns combined for 31 three-point field goals on the night, one shy of the NBA record of 32 established by Phoenix (18) at Seattle (14) in double overtime on January 22, 2006. The combined total marks the 8th time in NBA history that two teams have combined for 31 three- point field goals and just the 6th that two teams did so in a non-overtime game. It is the 3rd time the Lakers have been involved in combining for 31 three-point field goals, also doing so 3/30/08 (Lakers (14), Washington (17) – overtime) and 12/17/06 (Lakers (19), Washington (12) – overtime). Additionally, the Suns total of 22 three-point field goals made was one shy of the NBA record of 23 established by the Orlando Magic 1/13/09 at Sacramento. In addition to breaking their own franchise record of 20 three- point field goals made, Phoenix eclipsed the Lakers opponent franchise record of 19 three-point field goals made, also established by the Suns in April of 2005.