SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lost last season's series with the Cavaliers 0-2 after having swept the 2008- 09 series with Cleveland 2-0. This will be the 98th meeting between the two teams with the Lakers holding a 57-40 series advantage. In their last 10 overall meetings, the Lakers are 3-7 against the Cavaliers. The Lakers are 8-3 all-time against the Cavaliers at STAPLES Center. In Cleveland, the Lakers have gone 4-6 in their last 10 visits to Quicken Loan Arena. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 12-8 against Cleveland. In 26 games against the Cavaliers (23 starts), Kobe Bryant is averaging 22.8 points per game including a series record 47 points 1/30/01 at Cleveland. In his last 10 games against the Cavaliers, Bryant has upped his average to 29.4 points per game (294) despite 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. Cavs head coach Byron Scott played 11 seasons for the Lakers including his final NBA campaign in 1996-97 with then rookie Kobe Bryant. Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons spent the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons as an assistant coach on Scott's staff in New Orleans where Scott's last head coaching job was prior to joining the Cavs. Also, Cavs center Ryan Hollins played his collegiate basketball locally at UCLA.
BRYANT MOVES PAST OSCAR ROBERTSON FOR 9th ON THE NBA'S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
With a running jumper at the 1:09 mark of the third quarter 1/7 vs. New Orleans, Kobe Bryant moved past Oscar Robertson (26,710) for 9th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Just days early, also at STAPLES Center 1/4 vs. Detroit, Bryant connected on a driving lay-up in the third quarter to move past Dominique Wilkins (26,668) for 10th. Should he continue to score anywhere near his current pace (25.2 ppg), Bryant (26,747) would move to 6th on the all-time list by season's end. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant are Hakeem Olajuwon (8th/26,946), 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 (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O'Neal and 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).
ODOM 9TH FASTEST IN NBA HISTORY TO 11,000 POINTS, 7,000 REBOUNDS AND 3,000 ASSISTS; 23rd PLAYER EVER TO DO SO
With 10 rebounds 1/5/10 at Phoenix, Lamar Odom surpassed 7,000 rebounds for his career, becoming just the 23rd player in NBA history to reach 11,000 points, 7,000 rebounds and 3,000 assists and the 9th fastest to do so in terms of games. Only Larry Bird (680 games), Kevin Garnett (681 games), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (691 games), Wilt Chamberlain (691 games), Chris Webber (695), Elgin Baylor (716 games), Bill Russell (746 games) and Charles Barkley (762 games) reached those totals faster than Odom, who did so in 783 career games.
KOBE BRYANT LEADS ALL PLAYERS AFTER 3rd ROUND OF ALL-STAR BALLOTING
On January 6th, the NBA announced its THIRD returns of 2011 NBA All-Star balloting with Kobe Bryant (1,391,597) LEADING all players in All-Star voting, ahead of Dwight Howard (1,205,159) and LeBron James (1,194,091). Pau Gasol (702,859), who made his third All-Star team last season as a reserve, now ranks 3rd among forwards in the West behind Kevin Durant (945,944) and Carmelo Anthony (742,284). Andrew Bynum (493,237) ranks 2nd among West centers behind Yao Ming (754,583), while Chris Paul (724,605) ranks 2nd among West guards behind Bryant. In the East, James and Kevin Garnett (850,687) lead the forward voting, Dwyane Wade (1,167,649) and Rajon Rondo (929,781) are the top two vote-getters at guard and Howard leads all East centers in balloting.
In each of the last three seasons, Bryant has led the Western Conference in all-star balloting. 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 a 12-time All-Star and had started 11 consecutive All-Star games before missing last year's contest due to a sprained left ankle. Bryant, who was the youngest All-Star in NBA history in 1998, led all players in NBA All-Star balloting in 2003. Gasol has made three All-Star appearances (2006, 2009, 2010) and in 2009, became the 27th Laker in franchise history to be named to an All-Star team.
Tuesday's game against Cleveland is the first of a back-to-back set with the Cavaliers and Warriors. This season, the Lakers are 5-2 in the first game and 6-1 in the second of back-to-backs. On the year, the Lakers will play 15 sets of back-to-back games as opposed to the 20 they faced a season ago. The only other time the Lakers have played 15 or fewer sets of back-to-backs came in the team's first ever NBA season (1948-49) when they also played 15 sets of back-to-backs. Chicago, Milwaukee and Atlanta lead the league with 23 back-to-backs each in 2010-11 while Oklahoma City (17), Phoenix (16) and the Lakers (15) will play the fewest sets this season.
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 FS Prime Ticket (initial airing will be February 25th).
In their victory at New Orleans on December 29th, the Lakers posted season-highs for field goal percentage in a quarter (1st quarter/.750), half (1st half/.676) and game (.586) after connecting on only 37.9 percent of their shots in the previous two games combined. Additionally, it was the first time this season that each of the Lakers starters (Artest, Gasol, Bynum, Bryant, Fisher) shot 50 percent or better from the field in the same game.*
BRYANT NOW 3RD ON NBA FRANCHISE CAREER POINTS LIST
Last season, with his 29th point on February 1, 2010 at Memphis, Kobe Bryant surpassed Jerry West as the Lakers all-time leading scorer. In the history of the NBA, only two players have scored more points with a single franchise than Bryant (26,747): Karl Malone (1st/36,374) and Michael Jordan (2nd/29,277). This season, Bryant has moved past Hakeem Olajuwon (26,511) for 3rd on this list (12/19 at Toronto) and John Havlicek (26,395) for 4th (12/10 at Chicago).
Entering the Lakers game vs. Cleveland, Derek Fisher has played in 451 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 329 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.
RARE HOME STRUGGLES
On Christmas Day, the Lakers lost by 16 points to Miami. In their previous game 12/21 vs. Milwaukee, they lost by 19 points. With both losses coming at home, it was only the 3rd time in franchise history that the Lakers lost back-to-back home games by at least 16 points. The team was in Minneapolis for the previous two, once in January 1959 and once in November/December 1959.* The Lakers, however, snapped the two-game skid with a 102-98 victory over Philadelphia on December 31st, avoiding their first three-game home losing streak (by any margin) since March of 2008: 3/23 vs. GS (111-115), 3/26 vs. CHA (95-108), 3/28 vs. MEM (111-114). The last time the Lakers lost three straight home games, each by double-figures, came in January/February of 1993: 1/18 vs. HOU (90-110), 1/20 vs. SEA (101-111), 2/2 vs. ORL (97-110).
Additionally, with an 85-104 loss 1/2/11 vs. Memphis, the Lakers dropped their second home game of the year by at least 19 points, the first time that has happened since the 2000-01 season when Los Angeles lost 1/7/01 vs. LAC (95-118) and 3/28/01 vs. SAC (84-108). The Lakers haven't dropped three home games by a minimum of 19 points since the 1994-95 season (11/16/94 vs. NY (89-110), 12/9/94 vs. LAC (84-109), 3/17/95 vs. BOS (92-118)).