Kobe tallies season-high 44 in shootout
Kobe Bryant made 16 free throws without a miss despite a broken
finger on his shooting hand. He played nearly 43 minutes against
the run-and-gun Warriors in his fourth game in five nights.
And in a feat of strength to match those marvels of skill and
endurance, he put the Los Angeles Lakers on his back and carried
them past Golden State.
Bryant had a season-high 44 points and 11 assists amid
perfection from the foul line, and Los Angeles survived Golden
State’s 55-percent shooting for a 124-118 victory Tuesday night.
“By his effort alone, I think we owe this game to him in the
win column,” said Phil Jackson, who gave in to Bryant’s request to
get back in the game even when his exhaustion was obvious.
Pau Gasol had a season-high 27 points and 12 rebounds for the
defending NBA champions, who have struggled without injured forward
Ron Artest during a clear dip in their mostly trouble-free season.
The Lakers relied even more heavily than usual on Bryant to
avoid their third loss in four days. Bryant came through with 27
points in the second half and 17 in the fourth quarter, clinching
his seventh 40-point game of the season on two free throws with
“That guy is amazing,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said. “To be
able to shoot like he did with the finger problems that he has on
his shooting hand, it’s amazing. I love watching him play, and it’s
always a pleasure to coach against him.”
The huge wrap on the index finger of Bryant’s right hand
covers the most obvious of his several minor injuries. Bryant had
said his free throws were particularly tough with that wrap – yet
he was perfect, sealing the win with seven free throws in the final
“It’s really just the up-and-downs of the season,” said
Bryant, whose 103 40-point games are the third-most in NBA history.
“You’re going to have stretches when you’re not playing well. It’s
about how you deal with it and how you play through it.”
Corey Maggette scored 25 points and Monta Ellis added 22 for
the Warriors, who beat Phoenix and Boston in the previous three
days during the best stretch of another rough start to a season.
Golden State shot superbly and ran its uptempo offense well,
but had nobody who could guard Bryant in the Warriors’ seventh
straight loss to the Lakers. The Warriors haven’t won three
straight games yet this season.
“It’s a great stage to play on, and a lot of fun,” said
Warriors rookie Stephen Curry, who scored 15 points in his first
road game in Hollywood. “We were right there with them. We’ve just
got to figure out how to finish it out and close it. It was a great
experience for me.”
The Lakers still have the NBA’s best record (25-6) despite
two 15-point losses in the previous three days, including their
102-87 Christmas flop against Cleveland. They also played their
third straight game without Artest, who gave himself a concussion
and a deep cut on his left elbow when he tripped and fell at his
home on Christmas.
In their first home game since their fans littered the court
with foam hands in response to the Lakers’ gripes about the
officiating, Bryant and Lamar Odom both got technical fouls for
arguing calls in the final 4:16. Los Angeles’ complaining helped
the Warriors keep within three points down the stretch until Bryant
followed up Ronny Turiaf’s two missed free throws with two foul
shots of his own with 1:05 to play.
C.J. Watson scored 14 points while hitting four 3-pointers
for the Warriors, who went 14 for 22 in the first quarter while
opening with a clear burst of energy, perhaps still rolling from
their impressive 103-99 win over the Celtics.
Pushing the tempo and finding Maggette for open shots, the
Warriors scored 29 points the first 8:03 to take an 11-point lead
that grew to 15 in the second quarter. Los Angeles rallied after
halftime and took the lead midway through the period, but the
Warriors hung around with scoring from Maggette and Ellis, whose
layup in traffic evened it at 104 with 5:24 to play.
NOTES: Warriors C Andris Biedrins, who returned Monday from a
lengthy absence with an injured groin, had six points and eight
rebounds before fouling out. … Artest plans to run on a treadmill
Wednesday to see how his body responds. He might try to play Friday
vs. Sacramento. … Vladimir Radmanovic scored 11 points for the
Warriors. … Courtside fans included John McEnroe, Hayden
Panettiere and Nicole Richie. Her longtime partner, rocker Joel
Madden, wore a T-shirt reading “RIP The Rev” to honor Avenged
Sevenfold drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, who was found dead in
Huntington Beach on Monday.