Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers might have felt at home in their most recent contest on a season-high eight-game road trip. That could be the case again on their next stop.
The Lakers try for a third consecutive victory when they visit Bryant's home town looking to hand the Philadelphia 76ers their third straight loss Friday night.
In front of a sellout crowd that chanted "M-V-P" on several occasions, Bryant had 29 points with nine rebounds and seven assists as Los Angeles (35-11) improved to 3-2 on the trip with a 118-96 win at Indiana on Wednesday.
"Kobe's been in the league so long and he's accomplished so much as a player, when you reach that status as a player, you have a following," Pacers forward Danny Granger said regarding Bryant's warm reception at Conseco Fieldhouse. "I think of it the same way Michael Jordan had, and LeBron will have."
The following could be pretty large Friday. Born in Philadelphia and a graduate of suburban Lower Merion High School, Bryant has averaged 26.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists in his last seven road games against the 76ers. He had 32 points and six boards in Los Angeles' 114-102 win at Philadelphia in his last visit Dec. 3, 2008.
Though Andre Iguodala's last-second 3-pointer helped the 76ers snap a three-game losing streak in the series with a 94-93 win at Los Angeles on March 17, the Lakers have won their last two games in Philadelphia.
After falling 106-105 at Toronto on Sunday, the Western Conference-leading Lakers are looking for a third straight victory over a team with a losing record.
Andrew Bynum scored a season-high 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while Pau Gasol added 21 with 13 rebounds Wednesday for the Lakers, who are averaging 113.3 points on 49.4 shooting since making 38.6 percent of their shots in a 93-87 loss to Cleveland to open the trip.
Bynum is averaging a career-high 15.8 points and 8.4 boards this season, but he was not selected as a reserve for next month's All-Star game despite earning praise from his teammates.
"There are a few guys on this team, Andrew is one of them, that has All-Star caliber potential," said Gasol, who was named a reserve Thursday despite missing 17 games with hamstring problems. "Right now, Andrew is definitely one of the top centers in the league."
Bynum has averaged 19.7 points and 10.0 rebounds in his last three games against Philadelphia. Gasol is averaging 27.3 and 11.7 boards in his last four against the 76ers.
Philadelphia (15-30) looks to bounce back from a 91-88 loss at Milwaukee on Wednesday. Elton Brand had a season-high 26 points with 10 rebounds, but missed a short layup and a 17-foot fadeaway in the final seconds.
"I missed the chippie. So, I'm thinking, 'OK. I got it back.' Could have gotten a better shot, but the shot clock and everything, I thought I could just knock it down," said Brand, who went 12 of 20 from the field. "I was making everything. So, I was pretty confident in that (second) shot."
Iguodala, who's averaged 22.0 points in his last five games against the Lakers, was held to nine on 4-of-11 shooting versus the Bucks, while Allen Iverson went 3 of 10 from the field and finished with six points.
Iverson, selected an All-Star starter opposite Bryant, is averaging 25.8 points and 7.2 assists in 29 career contests against the Lakers.