SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers split last season’s series with Cleveland 1-1 after losing the 2009-10 series with the Cavaliers 0-2. This will be the 100th meeting between the two teams with the Lakers holding a 58-41 series advantage. In their last 10 overall meetings, the Lakers are 3-7 against the Cavaliers. The Lakers are 9-3 all-time against the Cavaliers at STAPLES Center while in Cleveland, they have gone 3-7 in their last 10 visits to Quicken Loan Arena. In their last home game against the Cavaliers 1/11/11 at STAPLES Center, the Lakers defeated Cleveland 112-57. The 55-point margin of victory is the third largest in team history, while the 57 points allowed are the fewest by a Lakers opponent in the shot clock era. In 28 games against the Cavaliers (25 starts), Kobe Bryant is averaging 22.3 points per game, his lowest career scoring average against any NBA opponent despite scoring a series record 47 points 1/30/01 at Cleveland. Bryant has faced a variety of health-related issues when facing Cleveland in recent years. On 2/8/09 at Cleveland, Bryant played through the effects of flu-like symptoms. In the prior meeting on 1/19/09, Bryant suffered a dislocated ring finger on his shooting hand but continued to play, marking the 3rd time Bryant has been injured against the Cavs. In 2004, Bryant suffered a sprained right shoulder that limited him to 17 minutes, five of which came after injuring his shoulder in the final seconds of the 1st quarter (1/12/04). Bryant tallied 10 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists, playing five 2nd quarter minutes predominantly left handed. The following season, Bryant suffered a severely sprained right ankle after landing on Ira Newble’s foot with 5:39 remaining in the first period (1/13/05) and did not return until the Lakers/Cavs next meeting that season. Lakers head coach Mike Brown spent five seasons as the Cavs head coach, leading Cleveland to the 2007 NBA Finals and back-to-back 60+ win seasons. Cavs head coach Byron Scott played 11 seasons for the Lakers including his final NBA campaign in 1996-97 with then rookie Kobe Bryant. Also, Cavs rookie Mychel Thompson, who played collegiately at Pepperdine, is the son of Lakers radio color commentator Mychal Thompson.
FIRST TO FORTY
On Tuesday, January 10th, Kobe Bryant scored an NBA season-high 48 points the help the Lakers to a 99-83 victory over the Phoenix Suns at STAPLES Center. Entering that night’s schedule, 131 NBA games had been played on the season, and not one player had reached the 40-point mark in a game, marking the farthest into a season in the shot-clock era, in terms of games played, before the first player scored 40 points in a game. Prior to this season, the latest “first player to 40” came in the 2004-05 season, when Dirk Nowitzki scored 41 points on 11/11/04. Prior to that day, there had been 68 NBA games played that season.*
The NBA season-high 48 points scored by Bryant, who was 33 years, 140 days old on January 10th, is the most by a player that old in a regulation-length game since Michael Jordan posted 51 points at the age of 38 as a member of the Washington Wizards 12/29/01 vs. the Charlotte Hornets. Bryant, who is currently in his 16th NBA season, became the first NBA player to score 48 or more points in his 15th season or later; Michael Jordan held the previous record, scoring 48 or more points in his 14th NBA season. Bryant’s 48 points (18-31 FG, 12-13 FT), marks his highest scoring output since registering 49 points 3/1/09 at Phoenix, and is the most he has scored in any game in which he did not make a three-point field goal.*
With 48 points January 10th vs. Phoenix, Kobe Bryant scored 40+ points for the 108th time (regular season) in his NBA career and the first time this season. Last season, Bryant eclipsed the 40-point mark three times (139-137 3OT win 3/22 vs. Phoenix (42 points), 92-95 loss 11/28 vs. Indiana (41 points), 96-109 loss 1/30 vs. Boston (41 points). During the 2009-10 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 74-34 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.
BRYANT NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOR 29th TIME
Averaging a league-high 33.0 points on 49.5% shooting, 5.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists while helping the Lakers to a 3-1 record, Kobe Bryant earned his FIRST WC Player of the week award this season for games played Monday, Jan. 2 through Sunday, Jan. 8. The award is the 29th of Bryant’s career (27 Western Conference POW, 2 NBA POW), further surpassing Magic Johnson’s 18 NBA POW awards as the franchise’s all-time leader. Johnson, however, earned each of his Player of the Week nods before the award was separated by Conference prior to the 2001-02 season. Bryant’s other WC POW honors came in weeks ending: 11/4/01, 1/20/02, 11/3/02, 12/8/02, 1/12/03, 2/2/03, 2/23/03, 2/17/04, 3/22/04, 11/13/05, 12/18/05, 12/25/05, 1/22/06, 4/16/06, 3/18/07, 3/25/07, 1/13/08, 3/2/08, 4/6/08, 12/28/08, 1/11/09, 3/15/09, 11/22/09, 12/20/09, 12/27/09 and 3/27/11. His two NBA Player of the Week honors came in weeks ending 4/16/00 and 12/24/00. The NBA began the Player of the Week award in 1979-80.
WINNING IN SPITE OF TURNOVERS
In their 90-82 victory over Memphis on January 8, the Lakers turned the ball over 27 times; their highest total since turning it over 27 times in a 96-89 loss to Philadelphia on March 27, 2005 at STAPLES Center. The last time the Lakers had at least 27 turnovers and won came in a 106-102 overtime victory on April 20, 1999 at Golden State (27 turnovers). For the Lakers last regulation victory with at least 27 turnovers, one has to go all the way back to November 3, 1995 when they defeated the Denver Nuggets 98-96 at the Great Western Forum despite turning the ball over 27 times. On the season, the Lakers are now 5-2 when turning it over more than their opponents.
In their January 5 loss at Portland, the Lakers struggled to 0-for-11 shooting from behind the three-point arc despite opening the contest connecting on 11 of their first 12 field goals. The zero in the three-point field goals made column marks the first time the Lakers have not made at least one three-point shot since November 16, 2003 vs. Miami when the team combined to go 0-for-9. With 11 attempts and zero made, the Lakers also equaled the franchise record for most three-point field goal attempts without a make, established, ironically, 2/26/83 at Portland (0-11 3FG) and equaled again on 3/9/01 vs. San Antonio (0-11 3FG).
BRYANT NEARING SHAQUILLE O’NEAL FOR 5th ON NBA’S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
Last season, Kobe Bryant moved past Hall-of-Famers Moses Malone (27,409) 3/8/11 at Atlanta, Elvin Hayes (27,313) 2/27/11 at Oklahoma City, Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) 1/28/11 vs. Sacramento, Oscar Robertson (26,710) 1/7/11 vs. New Orleans, Dominique Wilkins (26,668) 1/4/11 vs. Detroit and John Havlicek (26,395) 12/10/10 at Chicago on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant (28,144) are Shaquille O’Neal (5th/28,596), Wilt Chamberlain (4th/31,419), Michael Jordan (3rd/32,292), Karl Malone (2nd/36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st/38,387). Among the top six scorers in NBA history, five have worn the Lakers uniform.
Bryant has been steadily moving up the list over the past few years. In 2009-10, 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).
*Statistical research assistance provided by the Elias Sports Bureau