SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers split last season's series with the Celtics 1-1 after sweeping their 2008-09 series with Boston 2-0. The two teams have met 181 times since the Lakers moved to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season with Los Angeles trailing the series 83-98. Including their time in Minneapolis, the Lakers and Celtics have met 272 times in all with Boston leading the all-time series 152-120. The Lakers are 6-4 against the Celtics in their last 10 overall regular season meetings. In Boston, the Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10 regular season games at TD Garden while in Los Angeles, the Lakers are 7-4 all-time against the Celtics at STAPLES Center (regular season). Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 13-7 against Boston during the regular season. With the Lakers 92-83 Christmas Day victory in 2008, Phil Jackson recorded his 1,000th career victory as an NBA head coach. Under Jackson, the Lakers have swept Boston on five occasions while twice being swept by the Celtics during the regular season. In 22 career regular season games against Boston including 19 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 24.8 points, but missed their most recent regular season meeting (2/18/10) with a left ankle injury. Celtics forward Paul Pierce grew up in Southern California, attending Inglewood High. Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal won three NBA titles in eight seasons with the Lakers, averaging 27.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.49 blocked shots. He still ranks among franchise leaders in points (7th/13,895), rebounds (5th/6,090), blocks (2nd/1,278) and FG% (2nd/.575). In Bryant and O'Neal's 10 career head-to- head meetings in which both have played, Bryant is averaging 34.4 points (313), 6.1 rebounds (61) and 4.4 assists (44) while O'Neal is averaging 18.4 points (184), 9.5 rebounds (95) and 1.30 blocks (13). In 2008-09, Phil Jackson surpassed legendary Celtics head coach Red Auerbach (9) with his 10th NBA championship as a head coach, an NBA record which he extended to 11 titles last season. Jackson surpassed Auerbach in all-time victories during the 2007-08 season and in games coached during the 2008-09 season. Losing to the Celtics in six games during the 2008 NBA Finals, the Lakers defeated the Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals in what was the two teams' 12th NBA Finals meeting dating back to Minneapolis in 1959. The Lakers are 3-9 in NBA Finals series against Boston, with the Celtics taking the first eight before Los Angeles won three of the last four in 1985, 1987 and 2010.
BRYANT MOVES PAST HAKEEM OLAJUWON FOR 8th ON THE NBA'S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
With a fast break dunk at the 3:29 mark of the first quarter 1/28 vs. Sacramento, Kobe Bryant moved past Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) for 8th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Earlier this month, Bryant moved past Oscar Robertson (26,710) 1/7 vs. New Orleans and Dominique Wilkins (26,668) 1/4 vs. Detroit on the all-time list. Should he continue to score anywhere near his current pace (25.1 ppg), Bryant (26,972) would move to 6th on the all-time list by season's end. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant are Elvin Hayes (7th/27,313) and Moses Malone (6th/27,409). Among the top nine scorers in NBA history, more than half (5) have worn the Lakers uniform (1st/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 2nd/Karl Malone, 4th/Wilt Chamberlain, 5th/Shaquille O'Neal and 8th/Bryant).
Bryant has been steadily moving up the list over the past few years. Earlier this season, with 23 points at Chicago (12/10/10), he passed John Havlicek (26,395) for 11th. Last season, he 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 Gary Payton (21,813) and Hall-of-Famers Charles Barkley (23,757), Robert Parish (23,334), Adrian Dantley (23,177), Elgin Baylor (23,149), Clyde Drexler (22,195) and Larry Bird (21,791).
BRYANT APPROACHING 27,000 CAREER POINTS
With 38 points January 28th vs. Sacramento, Kobe Bryant moved to within 28 points of 27,000 for his career. Bryant, the youngest player in league history to score 23,000 – 26,000 points, will be 31 years, 160 days old on Sunday, January 30 when the Lakers face Boston. Wilt Chamberlain, currently the youngest player to score 27,000 points in league history, reached the milestone back on March 11, 1969 when he was 32 years, 202 days of age. Michael Jordan, the only guard in NBA history to score 27,000 points, reached the milestone November 5, 1997 when he was 34 years, 261 days of age. Additionally, in reaching 27,000 points, Bryant (1,068 games played) would become just the 8th player in NBA history to do so and should he achieve the mark by the end of February, the 5th fastest to do so in terms of games. Chamberlain was the fastest to reach 27,000, doing so in 780 games, followed by Jordan (852), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (965), Karl Malone (1,035) and Shaquille O'Neal (1,083).
Earlier this season, with his 17th point November 11th at Denver, Bryant reached 26,000 for his career. In doing so, he became the youngest to do so in NBA history (32 years, 80 days), surpassing Wilt Chamberlain (32 years, 114 days) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33 years, 331 days). Additionally, Bryant became the 12th player in NBA history to score 26,000 points and the 8th fastest to do so (1,030) in terms of games, behind Shaquille O'Neal (1,022). Wilt Chamberlain was the fastest to reach 26,000, doing so in 734 games. Among the remaining top five scorers in NBA history (Chamberlain and O'Neal already mentioned), Michael Jordan reached 26,000 points in 815 games, Abdul-Jabbar in 925 games and Karl Malone in 997 games.
The youngest player in league history to accumulate 17,000 – 20,000 and 23,000 – 26,000 points, Bryant was the 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, 11th fastest to 23,000, 9th fastest to 24,000, 9th fastest to 25,000 and 8th fastest to 26,000 points in terms of games.
KOBE BRYANT IS TOP VOTE GETTER IN 2011 NBA ALL-STAR BALLOTING PRESENTED BY T-MOBILE
On January 27th, the NBA announced that Kobe Bryant is this year's leading vote-getter in the All-Star Balloting program presented by T-Mobile with 2,380,016 votes. It is the second time Bryant, who was the youngest All-Star in NBA history in 1998, has led all players in NBA All-Star balloting (2003) as well as his 13th consecutive All-Star selection; only Jerry West, Karl Malone and Shaquille O'Neal have more been selected more times consecutively (14 times each). In league history, only Kareem Abdul- Jabbar (19), O'Neal (15), Michael Jordan (14), Malone (14) and West (14) have more NBA All-Star selections. Pau Gasol (1,100,772), who made his third All-Star team last season as a reserve (2006, 2009, 2010) and in 2009 became the 27th Laker in franchise history to be named to an All-Star team, finished 3rd among forwards in the West behind Kevin Durant (1,736,728) and Carmelo Anthony (1,299,849). Andrew Bynum (974,546) finished 2nd among West centers behind Yao Ming (1,146,426) while Chris Paul (1,281,591) will start at guard alongside Bryant in the West. Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, the second leading vote-getter overall with 2,099,204, led the Eastern Conference in balloting. Starting alongside Howard in the East are LeBron James (2,053,011) and Amar'e Stoudemire (1,674,995) at forward and Dwyane Wade (2,048,175) and Derrick Rose (1,914,996) in the backcourt.
With the 2011 results in, Bryant has now led the Western Conference in all-star balloting in each of the last four seasons. 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 now a 13-time All-Star. He had started 11 consecutive All-Star games before missing last year's contest due to a sprained left ankle.
30 WINS AT THE MID-POINT
With a 100-88 victory over the New Jersey Nets on January 14th, the Lakers improved to 30-11 on the season, marking the third consecutive year that they have reached the mid-point of their season with 30 or more wins. Last season, the Lakers held a 32-9 record at the halfway point after starting the 2008-09 season with a 33-8 mark. Over the past 10 seasons, the Sacramento Kings from 2001-04 are the only other NBA team to hit the mid-point with at least 30 wins in three consecutive seasons. Since the NBA went to an 82-game schedule prior to the 1967-68 season, the Lakers have now posted at least 30 wins by the mid-point 14 times, having also put together one additional three season streak from 1985-88.*
DEREK FISHER AMONG PLAYERS ELIGIBLE FOR FAN VOTE IN 2011 TACO BELL SKILLS CHALLENGE
On January 27th, the NBA announced that for the first time, the league and Taco Bell are giving fans the opportunity to determine participants in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge as part of the "Choose Your Squad" program. In addition to adding a fan vote, the 2011 Taco Bell Skills Challenge will feature an expanded field from four to five participants. Beginning today and running through 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 14, fans can log on to NBA.com/chooseyoursquad to choose from among eight players to determine four of the five participants in the 2011 event in Los Angeles. The players taking part in the vote include: Stephen Curry, Baron Davis, Tyreke Evans, Derek Fisher, Tony Parker, Derrick Rose, John Wall and Russell Westbrook. The four finalists will compete against "Choose Your Squad" spokesman Chris Paul.
The event includes a new charitable twist from NBA Cares & Taco Bell Foundation for Teens' "Graduate to Go" program, a national initiative helping teens graduate from high school through real-world experiences. Each of the five participants will be matched with a teen member of a local Boys & Girls Club. The teen paired with the event winner will receive a 4-year college scholarship. The other scholarship winners each receive an educational scholarship courtesy of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens.
Introduced at NBA All-Star 2003 in Atlanta – the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge will feature five players competing in a two-round timed "obstacle course" consisting of dribbling, passing, and shooting stations. All players must observe basic NBA ball-handling rules while completing the course. The two players with the fastest times from the first round advance to the finals with the order of competition determined by inverse order of the first-round times. The Taco Bell Skills Challenge will be televised live nationally as part of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm, which will also feature the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, Haier Shooting Stars, and Sprite Slam Dunk. TNT and ESPN Radio's national coverage will begin at 8 p.m. EST from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.