SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lead the season series with New Orleans 2-0 after taking last season's series from the Hornets 2-1. The Lakers are 8-2 in their last 10 games against the Hornets including a 5-1 mark in their last six meetings. The Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 homes games against the Hornets and are 13-4 all-time against the Hornets at STAPLES Center. Since the Hornets move to New Orleans from Charlotte prior to the 2002-03 season, the Lakers have gone 8-3 at New Orleans Arena while going 0-2 at Ford Center in Oklahoma City during their temporary relocation from 2005-07. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 21-9 against the Hornets. In 2006, the Lakers and Hornets took part in the city of New Orleans first professional sports game following Hurricane Katrina when they met at the New Orleans Arena March 8, 2006. The Lakers won that contest 113-107 behind 40 points from Kobe Bryant. In 2006-07, Bryant scored a series record 50 points 3/23/07, becoming just the second player in NBA history to score 50+ points in four consecutive games. In their first meeting of the 2007-08 season (11/6/07), Peja Stojakovic made a Lakers opponent record 10 three-point field goals while Chris Paul became only the 7th Lakers opponent to record at least 21 assists in a game and the first since John Stockton did so in April of 1990. In a January 6, 2009 loss to New Orleans, David West scored a series-high 40 points for the Hornets, surpassing Baron Davis' old mark of 37 established when the team was in Charlotte back in 2002. Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons spent the 2004-05 and 2005- 06 seasons as an assistant coach in New Orleans. Hornets forward Trevor Ariza played 106 regular season games with Los Angeles from 2007-09, averaging 8.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.54 steals during his Lakers career while helping the team to the 2009 NBA Championship. Additionally, Hornets center DJ Mbenga played three seasons with the Lakers from 2007-10, averaged 2.3 points and 1.6 rebounds and was a member of two championship Lakers teams (2009, 2010).
PAU GASOL NAMED WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR FOR 3RD CONSECUTIVE SEASON; 4TH ALL-STAR APPEARANCE OVERALL
On February 3rd, the NBA announced that Lakers' forward Pau Gasol was selected to represent the Western Conference in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game to be played February 20th in Los Angeles at STAPLES Center. Gasol, who will join teammate Kobe Bryant on the Western Conference team, will be making his 4th career All-Star appearance (2006, 2009, 2010). In 2009, Gasol became the 27th Laker in franchise history to be named to an All-Star team, posting 15 points (5-7 FG) and a team-high eight rebounds in the West's 146-119 victory over the East. In his first All-Star game in 2006, Gasol, despite playing a team-low 14 minutes, pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds in the West's two-point loss to the East (120-122). Last season, Gasol, in 20 minutes, totaled 13 points (5-9 FG), six rebounds and a steal in a 139-141 loss to the Eastern Conference 2/14 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. In selecting the reserves, each of the 30 NBA head coaches must vote for seven players within their conference, including two guards, two forwards, a center and two players regardless of position. Coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their team. In fan voting for this year's starters, Gasol (1,100,772) finished 3rd among forwards in the West behind Kevin Durant (1,736,728) and Carmelo Anthony (1,299,849).
BRYANT PASSES HAKEEM OLAJUWON FOR 8th ON 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 (25.4 ppg), Bryant (27,061) 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 eight scorers in NBA history, more than half (5) have worn the Lakers uniform (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st), Karl Malone (2nd), Wilt Chamberlain (4th), Shaquille O'Neal (5th) and Bryant (8th)).
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 YOUNGEST IN NBA HISTORY TO 27,000 POINTS; 8th EVER TO REACH MILESTONE
With his 28th point January 30th vs. Boston, Kobe Bryant reached 27,000 for his career. In doing so, Bryant became the youngest to 27,000 points in NBA history (31 years, 160 days), surpassing Wilt Chamberlain (32 years, 202 days) who reached the milestone back on March 11, 1969. 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, Bryant became the 8th player in NBA history to score 27,000 points and the 5th fastest to do so (1,069) 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) and Karl Malone (1,035).
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 – 27,000 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, Kevin Garnett 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), West (14) and Garnett (14) have more NBA All-Star selections. 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.
ODOM & GASOL ENJOY RARE NIGHT FOR LAKERS TEAMMATES
In their 114-106 overtime victory February 1st against the Rockets, Pau Gasol (26 points, 16 rebounds) and Lamar Odom (20 points, 20 rebounds) became the first Lakers teammates in exactly 38 years to the day to post at least 20 points and 16 rebounds in the same game. On February 1, 1973, Wilt Chamberlain (25 points, 19 rebounds) and Bill Bridges (20 points, 16 rebounds) both posted 20-point, 16-rebound games in the Lakers 120-106 victory at Phoenix.
LACK OF ASSISTS
In their January 30th loss to Boston, the Lakers handed out a season-low 10 assists. That total is the Lakers lowest in a home game since October 25, 1960 (two weeks before the Kennedy-Nixon presidential election) in the team's second home game after moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. In Jerry West's fourth NBA game, Los Angeles was credited with only five assists on 42 field goals in a 120-118 win over the Knickerbockers.*
SHOOTING LIGHTS OUT
In the Lakers January 30th loss to Boston, the Celtics made 44-of-73 shots from the field (60.3%) at STAPLES Center. That was the third-highest field-goal percentage ever posted by the Celtics against the Lakers, at home or on the road, during the regular or postseason, versus the Minneapolis or the Los Angeles Lakers. In the other two games, Boston shot 61.5 percent from the field in a regular season loss at the LA Forum in 1990 and 60.8 percent in a victory in Game 1 of the 1985 NBA Finals.*
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.*
GASOL REACHES UNIQUE WELL-ROUNDED MILESTONE
With a four foot hook shot at the 1:00 mark of the second quarter 1/19 at Dallas, Pau Gasol scored his 13,000th career point in his 693rd career regular season game. Among players who debuted since 1973-74 (first season of blocked shots), Gasol, became the 6th fastest player in terms of games to record 13,000 points, 6,000 rebounds, 2,000 assists and 1,000 blocks. Only Chris Webber (587), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (605), Tim Duncan (640), Kevin Garnett (657) and David Robinson (672) reached those totals faster than Gasol.
GASOL NAMED 2010 EUROPEAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR
In January, La Gazzetta dello Sport, one of the premier sports journals in the world, named Pau Gasol European Player of the Year for the THIRD consecutive year. The prestigious award was decided on by a panel of judges comprised of players, coaches and basketball journalists. Gasol beat out Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki (2nd), who had won the award five consecutive years from 2002-06, and the Spanish League's Juan Carlos Navarro (3rd) of FC Barcelona. The first Spanish player to win the award, Gasol joins Nowitzki as the only other player to win the award three-straight years. Other notable past winners include Arvydas Sabonis (6-time winner), Toni Kukoc (5-time winner), Drazen Petrovic (4-time winner) and Tony Parker.
Entering the Lakers game at New Orleans, Derek Fisher has played in 463 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 341 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.
With their record setting 121-90 victory vs. Utah on January 25th, the Lakers recorded their league-leading EIGHTH wire-to-wire win of the season. Getting to seven wire- to-wire victories in just 39 games matched the Lakers regular season total from all of last season, while their eighth in 46 games surpassed that total. This season, the Lakers (8) lead the NBA in wire-to-wire victories, followed by the Celtics (7), Spurs (5) and Bucks (5) through games played 2/3/11. The Lakers other wire-to-wire victories this season came against the Warriors (10/31 vs. GS, 11/21 vs. GS), Grizzlies (11/2 vs. MEM), Wizards (12/7 vs. WAS), Pacers (12/15 @ IND), 76ers (12/31 vs. PHI) and Cavaliers (1/11 vs. CLE). 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).
FISHER NAMED 2010 "SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR" BY LOS ANGELES SPORTS COUNCIL
On January 6th, the Los Angeles Sports Council announced that Lakers guard Derek Fisher will receive the prestigious 2010 Sportsman of the Year award at the 6th annual LA Sports Awards to be held Thursday, February 24th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The LA Sports Awards are presented annually by the Los Angeles Sports Council to celebrate the greatest moments of the year in local sports. The Sportsman award is given to the local male athlete whose performance and character best exemplified the ideals of sportsmanship during the calendar year. Past Sportsman of the Year honorees include Matt Leinart (2005), Elton Brand (2006), David Beckam (2007), Kobe Bryant (2008) and Pau Gasol (2009). The awards show will be televised on Fox Sports West (initial airing will be March 4th).
A FOURTH QUARTER FIRST
Trailing by six entering the fourth quarter of their January 12th contest with Golden State, the Lakers outscored the Warriors 46-35 en route to a 115-110 victory at ORACLE Arena. The 46-point total marked the first time in franchise history (shot clock era) that the Lakers have scored 46 or more points in the fourth quarter of a road game. The last time the Lakers scored 46 or more points in any quarter on the road was on November 26, 1966 at St. Louis (48 points, first quarter). Overall, it was the Lakers highest scoring quarter since posting 46 points in the fourth quarter of a 127-99 victory 11/29/07 vs. Denver.
LAKERS HISTORIC ROUT
With their 112-57 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 11th, the Lakers established a new franchise record for fewest points allowed in the shot clock era, eclipsing the old mark of 66 established 3/12/02 vs. Charlotte. The 55-point margin of victory was the third largest in Lakers franchise history (regular season) as well as the largest league-wide since the Pacers defeated the Trail Blazers 124-59 in February of 1998. The Indiana-Portland game was the only contest in NBA history in which one team doubled up an opponent, with the Lakers falling one basket shy of becoming the second team in league history to score at least twice as many points as its opponent. The Lakers led by 51 entering the fourth quarter against Cleveland and by as many as 56 on the night, marking the first time the Lakers led by at least 50 points in a game since 1/9/04 vs. Atlanta when they defeated the Hawks 113-67 and led by as many as 53 points in the contest. For the Cavaliers, 57 points are the fewest scored in franchise history while the 55-point margin of defeat also establishes a new Cleveland franchise mark.