Kobe Bryant scores 44 points in Lakers' loss to Warriors
The Golden State Warriors got off to such a fast start, they gave Kobe Bryant no other choice but to keep shooting the ball to keep the Los Angeles Lakers within striking distance.
Stephen Curry had 30 points and 15 assists, Marreese Speights added 24 points, and the Warriors cruised to a 136-115 victory Sunday night despite 44 points by the 36-year-old Bryant.
"I think that just says that he's still Kobe and he can get 44. As long as it doesn't hurt us too much and the game's going our way, then we're going to play him straight up," coach Steve Kerr said. "Kobe's Kobe, and he's always going to score -- no matter how old he is. I'm sure it's tough on him, but he's such a competitor."
Andrew Bogut had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacific Division-leading Warriors, who are off to an 8-2 start in Kerr's first season. Klay Thompson, who had 41 points in a win against the Lakers on Nov. 1, finished with 18 in the rematch.
"They came out and knocked down shots and put us in a hole pretty quick," Bryant said. "We're not getting back in transition and giving up a lot of points. We've got to give ourselves an opportunity to play half-court defense. ... They're running the ball and shooting in transition in 5 seconds before you really get an opportunity."
Bryant, who sat out the fourth quarter with Los Angeles down by 36 points, was 15 for 34 from the field in 31 minutes -- two nights after he played sick against the Phoenix Suns and missed his first 10 shots before finishing 1 for 14 with nine points.
"I'd rather get guys involved early. That's always the intent," Bryant said. "But when you go down 10-12 points in the hole, man, I've got to try to keep us in the ball game at some point. The responsibility is on me. I mean, when things go good, it's us. When things go bad, it's me."
Jordan Hill had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, off to a franchise-worst 1-9 start despite Bryant's 27.3-point scoring average.
Four players scored in double digits in the first half for Golden State en route to a 74-55 lead, including Speights with a team-high 16.
The Warriors opened the game with a 15-6 run and increased the margin to 19 on a 3-pointer by Andre Iguodala with 2:49 left in the first quarter.
"We had a great start to the game," Curry said. "We were focused at both ends of the floor and we made it as tough as possible on them at the defensive end. Our defense definitely made Kobe make some tough ones. If you make him work, hopefully you'll wear him down. And we were able to do that."
Bryant was struck in face by Draymond Green while trying to pass the ball with 5:22 left in the half, and lay on the floor for several anxious moments while he was attended to by trainer Gary Vitti.
The Lakers got no closer than 14 after that. Bryant hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 64-50 with 2:04 left in the second quarter, but Curry responded with a driving layup and a 3-pointer 20 seconds apart.
"That's a good a job at point guard as I've ever seen, what Steph did tonight -- managing the game, being aggressive at the right times, taking care of the ball and finding guys," Kerr said. "I think he's the best in the NBA right now at that position."
Warriors: They led by as many as 38 points on Speights' dunk with 1:13 left in the third quarter. The Warriors' largest margin of victory ever over the Lakers was 39 points on Nov. 11, 1966, in a 132-93 victory at San Francisco. ... Curry is the first player to score at least 20 points in each of the team's first eight games since 1994, when Latrell Sprewell did it in the first nine.
Lakers: Beleaguered coach Byron Scott has been through these kind of starts before. His 2004-05 New Orleans Hornets lost 29 of their first 31 games and finished 18-64. His 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers started out 8-45 and finished 19-63. ... Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor, who ushered the NBA into Los Angeles with Jerry West and Tommy Hawkins, was honored by the club in a halftime ceremony exactly two months after his 80th birthday and was presented with a custom-made diamond-studded ring after a lengthy video montage. ... Among the sellout crowd was Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten, who at one time was president and general manager of the Atlanta Hawks -- and to this day remains the NBA's only back-to-back Executive of the Year.