Kobe Bryant moves into 6th
ATLANTA -- Attention Shaquille O'Neal: Kobe Bryant is coming for you.
Bryant scored three straight free throws with 2:05 remaining in the second quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers' 101-87 win against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday to give him 27,410 points for his career, moving him past Moses Malone for sixth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
"It feels good," Bryant said after finishing with 26 points on 8-of-18 shooting. "I'm just very fortunate, that's all."
O'Neal, Bryant's former teammate who he won three championships with from 2000-02, is No. 5 on the all-time scoring list with 28,590 points as of Tuesday and is the only active player with more career points than Bryant.
Bryant, a two-time single-season scoring champ, is just sixth in the league this season with a 25.1 points per game average, but his points accumulation this year has marched him past a list of legends. He has surpassed John Havlicek, Dominique Wilkins, Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes and now Malone to move from No. 12 to No. 6 on the all-time scoring list this season.
"He's crashing through records, one by one as he goes along," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson after the team's shootaround Tuesday morning.
Jackson played against Malone and remembers the center's inauspicious start in the NBA after Malone started his professional career in the ABA.
"I think he was held scoreless at Madison Square Garden the first time [he played there], and we were all like, 'What's the big deal about this kid?'" Jackson said in his pregame remarks. "But he did show us very shortly what the big deal was about him. He was very resilient and he also was very athletic in a very understated way. You didn't really see that athleticism until he got around the hoop and he was very effective."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.