SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers currently lead their season series with the Thunder 1-0 after taking last season's series from Oklahoma City 3-1. The Lakers have now won the last five consecutive season series from Oklahoma City, sweeping the 2008-09 (3-0) and 2007-08 (4-0) series and taking 2006-07 3-1. Meeting last year in the First Round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs, the Lakers advanced past the Thunder in six games (4- 2) and improved to 6-2 in postseason series against the franchise. The two teams have met 219 times in the regular season but just eight times since the Thunder relocated to Oklahoma City prior to the 2008-09 season. Los Angeles leads the all- time series 135-84. In their most recent visit to Oklahoma City, the Lakers lost to the Thunder 75-91, snapping their 12-game win streak over the Thunder and marking their first loss to the Thunder since the team's relocation from Seattle. The Lakers are 14-2 in their last 16 games against Oklahoma City and have won 13 of their last 14 against the Thunder overall. On the road against the Thunder, the Lakers have gone 8-2 in their last 10 overall. The Lakers have now played six times during the regular season at Oklahoma City Arena in Oklahoma City, going 0- 2 against the New Orleans Hornets while the team was temporarily relocated from 2005-07 but 3-1 against the Thunder. At home, the Lakers have gone 9-1 in their last 10 games against the Thunder and are 15-8 all-time against Oklahoma City at STAPLES Center. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 27-12 against the Thunder. In 2006-07, Kobe Bryant established a Lakers series record with 46 points 4/6/07 at KeyArena only to surpass it nine days later with 50 points 4/15/07 at home against the then Sonics. In those games, he surpassed the old mark of 45 points established by himself in January of 2003 and Jerry West in December of 1970. In 51 career games including 44 starts, Bryant is averaging 25.0 points against the Thunder.
Kobe Bryant's 24 points in the Lakers victory over the Clippers (2/25) took him over the 1,500-point mark for the 11th consecutive season, marking the longest such streak by an NBA player since Karl Malone reached that milestone in 12 straight seasons (1986-87 to 1997-98).*
BRYANT 10 POINTS SHY OF ELVIN HAYES FOR 7th ON NBA'S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
With 37 points in the Lakers overtime victory 2/23 at Portland, Kobe Bryant moved within 34 points of Elvin Hayes (7th/27,313) on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Earlier this season, Bryant moved past Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) 1/28 vs. Sacramento, Oscar Robertson (26,710) 1/7 vs. New Orleans, Dominique Wilkins (26,668) 1/4 vs. Detroit and John Havlicek (26,395) 12/10 at Chicago on the all-time list. At his current pace (25.2 ppg), Bryant (27,303) is poised to move into 6th on the all-time list by season's end. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant and Hayes (7th/27,313) are Moses Malone (6th/27,409) and Shaquille O'Neal (5th/28,590). Among the top eight scorers in NBA history, five have worn the Lakers uniform (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st), Karl Malone (2nd), Wilt Chamberlain (4th), 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).
With their 104-80 victory vs. Atlanta on February 22nd, the Lakers recorded their league-leading NINTH 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 (9) lead the NBA in wire-to-wire victories, followed by the Celtics (7), Heat (7), Spurs (6) and Nuggets (6) through games played 2/25/11. 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), Cavaliers (1/11 vs. CLE) and Jazz (1/25 vs. Utah). 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).
RECORDS BEFORE & AFTER ALL-STAR BREAK UNDER JACKSON
On Tuesday, February 16th, the Lakers concluded a seven-game road trip as well as their pre-All-Star break schedule with a 38-19 record (.667). Below is a breakdown of the Lakers pre & post All-Star break records under head coach Phil Jackson:
BRYANT EARNS RECORD 4TH ALL-STAR GAME MVP
On February 21st, Kobe Bryant was named MVP of the 60th NBA All-Star Game at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. rebounds, three assists and three steals, Bryant's MVP performance tied him with Bob Pettit (4) for the most NBA All-Star Game MVP awards in league history, surpassing Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Oscar Robertson (3). In earning the honor, Bryant became the 7th player in the last 44 years to be named MVP of an All-Star game that was played in his own home arena, joining Jerry West (1972, Great Western Forum), Michael Jordan (1988, Chicago Stadium), Karl Malone & John Stockton (co-MVPs in 1993, Delta Center) and Shaquille O'Neal, who did it twice (2004, STAPLES Center & 2009, US Airways Center). Bryant's 37 points were tied for the 4th most points scored in All-Star Game history with Kevin Garnett (2003), trailing only Wilt Chamberlain (42 points, 1962), Jordan (40 points, 1988) and Rick Barry (38 points, 1967).
Additionally, Bryant's 37-point night and Kevin Durant's 34-point effort marked just the second time that two All-Stars on the same team scored 30-or-more points in the same game. The only other time that happened was in the 1977 game when Julius Erving and Bob McAdoo each scored 30 points for the Eastern Conference. Also, Bryant and Tim Duncan appeared on the same side in an All-Star game for the 12th time on Sunday night, marking the most appearances in an All-Star game as teammates for any two players in NBA history, surpassing Dolph Schayes and Bob Cousy (11 All-Star appearances as teammates).*
With 30 points (8-15 FG, 14-14 FT) and 20 rebounds February 16th at Cleveland, Pau Gasol posted the first 30-point/20-rebound game of his career while becoming the 10th Laker in franchise history ever to do so, joining Shaquille O'Neal (10), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19), Happy Hairston (1), Wilt Chamberlain (21), Rudy LaRusso (1), Elgin Baylor (77), Larry Foust (1), Clyde Lovellette (1) and George Mikan (10) in the 30/20 club (number in parentheses is with Lakers only). The last Laker to record a 30/20 game prior to Gasol was Shaquille O'Neal, who posted 31 points and 26 rebounds in an overtime victory over Milwaukee on March 21st, 2004.