- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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The Los Angeles Lakers have put the rest of the league on notice with their 15-1 record since the All-Star break.
Now the league office is noticing the recent play of Kobe Bryant, who was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played March 21-27, the NBA announced Monday.
Bryant averaged 36.3 points during a 3-0 week for the Lakers as his team extended its winning streak to seven games. Bryant scored a season-high 42 points to go with 12 rebounds and nine assists in a triple-overtime win against the Suns. He followed it up with 37 points and six assists against the Los Angeles Clippers and 30 points and five assists against the New Orleans Hornets.
"I'm just cranking it up," Bryant said after the Clippers game. "I'm starting to get into playoff mode, playoff form of being more aggressive."
The impressive week began for Bryant just 10 days after suffering a severe left ankle sprain against the Dallas Mavericks, an injury he described as one of the "scariest" of his 15-year career.
"I've played him some more minutes as he's coming back off this injury," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson after the Hornets game. "He's not getting a lot of practice time, so he's using this time out there on the court to really get himself ready as we go down the stretch."
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week as well. Howard averaged 14.3 rebounds and shot 71.1 percent from the floor, ranking first in the NBA in both categories last week as Orlando went 3-0.
Howard also extended his franchise record double-double streak to 30 games with his 21-point, 14-rebound performance against New Jersey. It is Howard's sixth Player of the Week award of the season.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
Kobe Bryant was named the Western Conference Player of the Week.