Bryant has scored 40 or more in seven straight games and has at
least 35 in his last 11. The Lakers have gone 9-2 during his
"I don't really know what it is,'' Bryant said of what's
driving him during the streak. "All this has done is help us win
games. Maybe when I retire I can look back and see what an
accomplishment it was.''
When he finally does look back, Bryant will find himself in good
The last player to score 40 in as many consecutive games was
Michael Jordan, who did it in nine straight early in the 1986-87
season. Wilt Chamberlain scored at least 40 in 14 consecutive games
early in the 1961-62 season.
Bryant, who scored 52 the night before in a 106-99
double-overtime win over Houston, decided just before tipoff to
play with a sore right knee as the Lakers were without Shaquille
O'Neal for a third straight game.
"Kobe was Kobe. He carried the load for two superstars
tonight,'' said Rick Fox, who scored 11 for the Lakers.
Bryant was booed throughout the night until the end, when the
sellout crowd of 19,911 realized he was about to continue the
streak. With the crowd chanting "KO-BE! KO-BE!'' Bryant got his
40th point on a free throw with 8.2 seconds left after the Jazz had
no choice but to foul him.
"I never thought I'd hear that,'' Bryant said. "It felt like
the Staples Center out there.''
Bryant finished 15-for-29 from the floor and 4-of-6 on
3-pointers. Most of his points came from the outside because his
knee was too sore to drive. Despite being tightly guarded by
Calbert Cheaney and Andrei Kirilenko, Bryant kept hitting his
"He's the best player in the game right now. He's playing as
good of basketball as I've seen in my career,'' Jazz guard Mark
Derek Fisher scored 16 for the Lakers, who won less than 24
hours after beating Houston in double overtime.
"If you lose a game like tonight, then all that fighting we did
yesterday was pretty much for nothing,'' Bryant said.
Karl Malone led Utah with 25 points, but also was called for a
key technical foul as the Jazz tried to rally at the end.
After two straight jumpers by Bryant put Los Angeles up 80-74,
Malone was called for pushing off on Robert Horry with 3:47 left.
He had words for referee Hue Hollins all the way down the court and
drew the technical after calling Hollins a name in front of the
Horry hit both free throws to give the Lakers an 83-74 lead, and
the Jazz never got closer than five the rest of the way. Bryant hit
two more field goals down the stretch.
"We tried to attack Kobe Bryant but somebody would end up
making an easy play for them,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "They
competed to win the game. They knocked us around and pushed us out
of our offense and we accepted that.''
It was the second straight game for the Jazz against a team that
had played the night before, then traveled to Salt Lake City. But
Utah couldn't take advantage as the Lakers seemed to carry over
some momentum from Tuesday's 106-99 win over Houston -- also without
O'Neal, who is out with a sore knee and toe.
"It's pretty remarkable what he's doing out there. He takes the
challenge of winning very seriously,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson
said of Bryant. "He's going to fight his way out of a paper bag.
He has a knack for overcoming obstacles.''
Matt Harpring scored 21 and John Stockton added 15 points and
seven assists for the Jazz, who fell to 2-2 during a five-game
Wednesday was the 2,500th Jazz broadcast for television
announcer "Hot'' Rod Hundley, whose tenure with the Jazz goes back
to when the team played in New Orleans. Hundley was honored at
halftime in a ceremony that included former broadcast partner Jim
Nantz. ... Utah was playing without reserve forward/center Tony
Massenburg, who left the team temporarily because of a death in the
family. ... Bryant scored 12 of the Lakers' first 14 points and was
7-for-11 in the first quarter with 18 points. He was also blocked
on three straight shots by Kirilenko, drawing some of the loudest
cheers of the night. It got louder when Bryant was called for a
technical after John Stockton tied up the ball and forced a jump
ball late in the second.