7:00 PM ET, November 8, 2005
Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Hawks' new star couldn't slow Kobe Bryant.
The Hawks' old smoking game clock didn't have any better luck, only causing delays that gave Bryant time to rest and point the Los Angeles Lakers' fast-break offense in a winning direction.
Bryant scored 37 points, including two drives to spark a 14-2 second-half run, and the Lakers spoiled Atlanta's home opener, beating Joe Johnson and the Hawks 103-97 on Tuesday night.
On a night the Philips Arena game clock and shot clock rarely worked, the public address announcer had to call out the scores. Coach Phil Jackson and the Lakers laughed after the game about the often-comical attempts by Hawks' management to keep the game moving.
There were several delays and reports of equipment smoking behind press row.
Asked if he had ever experienced a similar collapse of technology, a smiling Jackson said "It was probably here in Atlanta, the last time it happened."
Some Los Angeles players joked the announcer kept an exaggerated slow count of the shot clock when the Hawks had the ball but raced through the count when the Lakers were on offense.
The scene reminded Bryant of summer league games in Philadelphia.
"I had no clue what the score was. It just made it a little harder to manage the game a little bit strategically," he said.
Bryant topped the 30-point mark for the fourth straight game and had 37 for the second straight game -- right on his NBA-best average of 36.3.
Atlanta, sparked by Johnson's season-high 26 points, led 29-19 in the first quarter and 51-48 at halftime. But following the last tie at 63, Bryant scored on back-to-back drives to send the Lakers on the run that made it 77-65.
The Lakers kept the lead in double figures most of the rest of the game until the Hawks closed the gap late with Bryant on the bench.
With 7:54 to play, Bryant scored on a breakaway jam, drawing a foul from Hawks rookie Marvin Williams, to give him 37 points. With the Lakers' lead at 12 points, Bryant sat out most of the final seven minutes.
"In the third quarter they wanted it more than we did," Johnson said.
The Hawks, 0-4 for the second straight year, are coming off a franchise-worst 13-win season.
"Right now it ain't looking good," Johnson said. "We've got a lot of work to do. We've got to go back in the lab and get to work."
Bryant said the Lakers "stepped up our defensive intensity" in the third quarter.
Hawks coach Mike Woodson said his team didn't respond.
"It's like we were in quicksand," he said. "When you give up 20-plus layups, it kind of takes the starch out of you."
Lakers guard Smush Parker continued his strong start with 21 points, 13 in the third quarter. Parker has scored 20 or more points in three of the Lakers' four games.
"He can play," Bryant said of Parker. "I think he's been a surprise to people. Now I don't think he's so much a surprise anymore."
With Lue starting at point guard, Johnson could reserve his energy for guarding Bryant.
Johnson couldn't slow Bryant, even when giving the Lakers a major scare by sending the star crashing to the floor while trying to stop him on a fast break. Bryant was slow to get up, but remained in the game and made one of two free throws, giving him half of the Lakers' 38 points.< ^Notes:@The Hawks observed a moment of silence before the game for former teammate Jason Collier, who died on Oct. 15 from a sudden heart rhythm disturbance caused by an abnormally enlarged heart. Attending the game were Collier's wife, Katie, and daughter, Elezen. Harrington spoke on behalf of the team, saying "We're going to forever miss him. We'll carry a piece of Jason with us forever. We love you, JC." ... North Carolina coach Roy Williams attended the game to watch Marvin Williams, his former player, who had four points and four rebounds.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||38-73 (.521)||37-75 (.493)|
|3PM-3PA||7-18 (.389)||4-15 (.267)|
|FTM-FTA||20-33 (.606)||19-26 (.731)|
|Fast Break Points||10||7|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||24 (1/0)||25 (0/1)|