SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers dropped last season’s series with Denver (1-2) after losing the 2009-10 series (1-3) as well, marking only the second time the Lakers have lost consecutive season series to the Nuggets (1977-78, 1978-79). The two teams have met 146 times in the regular season with the Lakers leading the all-time series 95-51. The Lakers are 4-6 in their last 10 regular season meetings with the Nuggets. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 18-4 against the Nuggets all-time (7-3 in their last 10). In Denver, the Lakers are 3-7 in their last 10 road games at Pepsi Center but snapped a four-game losing streak in their most recent visit on January 21, 2011 (107-97), posting their first regular season victory there since November of 2008. In the postseason, the Lakers and Nuggets have met five times with the Lakers advancing on each occasion, most recently defeating Denver 4-2 in the 2009 Western Conference Finals. The Lakers are 17-4 overall against the Nuggets in postseason games (9-2 home, 8-2 road). Additionally, the Lakers won 11 straight playoff games against the Nuggets from 5/17/85 – 5/19/09, the 2nd longest postseason win streak against one team in NBA history behind the Lakers 12-game win streak versus Seattle from 1980-89. In 53 career regular season games including 44 starts against the Nuggets, Kobe Bryant is averaging 25.5 points. Bryant established the series record for points in a game (51) in February of 2003 but was tied by Allen Iverson in 2007-08 when he scored 51 points in the Lakers 111-107 victory at Pepsi Center on December 14, 2007. Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo attended high school locally at Compton Centennial and played collegiately at UCLA while Denver guard Rudy Fernandez played for Spain internationally along with Pau Gasol. Fernandez was on the 2008 Olympic silver medal team with Gasol while both also played together on the gold medal winning Spanish 2006 FIBA World Championships team. Nuggets head coach George Karl (senior) and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak (freshman) played one season together at the University of North Carolina (1972-73).
BRYANT 49 POINTS SHY OF 28,000 FOR HIS CAREER
With 28 points December 29th vs. New York, Kobe Bryant (27,979) moved to within 21 points of 28,000 for his career. Bryant, the youngest player in league history to score 23,000 – 27,000 points, will be 33 years, 130 days old on Saturday, December 31 when the Lakers face Denver. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, currently the youngest player to score 28,000 points in league history, reached the milestone back on April 13, 1982 when he was 34 years, 363 days of age. Wilt Chamberlain (34 years, 109 days), Michael Jordan (34 years, 333 days), the only guard in NBA history to score 28,000 points, Karl Malone (35 years, 212 days) and Shaquille O’Neal (37 years, 319 days) round out the top five. Additionally, in reaching 28,000 points, Bryant (1,107 games played thru 12/29/11) would become just the 6th player in NBA history to do so and should become the 5th fastest in terms of games. Chamberlain was the fastest to reach 28,000, doing so in 825 games, followed by Jordan (886), Kareem Abdul- Jabbar (1,008), Karl Malone (1,070) and Shaquille O’Neal (1,154).
Last season, Bryant reached the 27,000 point milestone with his 28th point January 30 vs. Boston. In doing so, Bryant became the youngest to 27,000 points in NBA history (32 years, 160 days), surpassing Wilt Chamberlain (32 years, 202 days) who reached the milestone back on March 11, 1969. 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). The youngest player in league history to accumulate 18,000 – 20,000 and 23,000 – 27,000 points, Bryant was the 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, 8th fastest to 26,000 points and 5th fastest to 27,000 points in terms of games.
LAKERS REMARKABLE DEFENSIVE EFFORT
A game after holding the Jazz to just 32.2 percent shooting from the field in a 96-71 victory on December 27th, the Lakers held the Knicks to just 31.3 percent shooting from the field in a 99-82 victory at STAPLES Center. In doing so, it marks the first time that the Lakers have held their opponents to making less than one-third of their field-goal attempts in consecutive games since the team moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960. The last time that the Lakers did such a thing came in November of 1959 when they held the Pistons to 28.6 percent shooting and then, in their next game, limited the Cincinnati Royals to 31.3 percent shooting from the field.*
FISHER TO PLAY IN 500th STRAIGHT GAME
Entering the Lakers December 31st contest with Denver, Derek Fisher has played in 499 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 377 consecutive regular season games dating back to January 15, 2007, tops among all active players by more than a season’s worth of games. 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.
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 (27,951) 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).