7:30 PM ET, January 9, 2006
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant accomplished something Michael Jordan never did.
of Bryant and Chamberlain
|Season||January '06||November '64|
|* -- 5 total assists|
Or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Or Larry Bird.
Or anyone else in more than 41 years.
Bryant scored 45 points, making him the first player to score at least that many in four consecutive games since November 1964, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers 96-90 Monday night for their third straight victory.
The last player to score at least 45 or more points in four consecutive games was Wilt Chamberlain, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"I am just blessed. I have just been blessed to be able to play this game. I am just very fortunate," Bryant said.
Regarding his accomplishments, Bryant said: "I try not to think about it too much. I just try to stay in the moment as much as possible. With that being said, I still appreciate greatness and feel very blessed, very fortunate, of what's going on. I am very lucky."
Bryant scored 45 points on Dec. 28 against Memphis, 48 last Friday night against Philadelphia, and 50 on Saturday night against the Clippers.
among active players
|* -- Both scored 40 points Monday|
He sat out games against Utah on Jan. 1-3 after being suspended for two games for elbowing Mike Miller in the Memphis game -- a flagrant foul.
"I think that it's remarkable," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of Bryant's latest accomplishment.
Jackson was the coach in Chicago when Jordan led the Bulls to six championships in the 1990s.
"Hey, the guy's at the top of his game," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said when asked about Bryant. "We're witnessing true greatness. It's a rare opportunity to see a guy perform at this level."
Bryant scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, reaching 45 by making two free throws with 9.6 seconds left. He also had 10 rebounds and five assists. He had become the first player with at least 45 in three straight games since Jordan accomplished the feat in 1990.
"Right now, he's got it cookin'," said teammate Lamar Odom, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds.
"He's a rare one. You take your hat off to a guy like that," said Jermaine O'Neal, who led the Pacers with 24 points and 16 rebounds but scored only two points in the fourth quarter, when he missed all four of his attempts from the foul line.
"I'm so disappointed right now," he said. "We were there until I coughed the game up. At the end of the game, I felt like I let the team down. There is no excuse."
O'Neal had missed three games because of illness before returning Sunday night in Sacramento, when he had 12 points and eight rebounds in just 22 minutes of a 108-83 Indiana victory. He played 44½ minutes against the Lakers.
Kwame Brown added nine points and nine rebounds for the Lakers (18-16).
Anthony Johnson scored 14 points and rookie Danny Granger had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Pacers (18-14). Indiana's Stephen Jackson, who scored a season-high 31 points in Sacramento, was limited to 25 minutes because of foul problems and scored only eight.
Bryant made a basket with 1:46 remaining to snap an 85-all tie and put the Lakers ahead for good. O'Neal missed two free throws 12 seconds later, and Odom made a 3-pointer with 1:20 left to give the Lakers a five-point lead.
Bryant's last two points made it 95-90 and clinched the victory. Bryant shot 14-of-32 from the field including 2-of-6 from 3-point range and 15-of-21 from the foul line.
The Lakers scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to go ahead 72-65. But the Pacers responded by going on a 12-4 run for a 77-76 lead. Neither team led by more than four points after that until Odom's big 3-pointer.
O'Neal scored six points during a 13-3 run that gave Indiana a 60-57 lead. The Pacers led 65-64 entering the fourth quarter.
Neither team led by more than four points in the second period, which ended with the Lakers on top 47-45. Bryant had 20 points at that stage.
Jackson began the game guarding Bryant, but went to the bench with two fouls just 3½ minutes into the game and didn't return until the second quarter.
David Harrison and O'Neal each scored five points as the Pacers jumped out to a 14-8 lead. Bryant scored 11 points in the last 5:45 of the opening period to spark a 16-8 run that put the Lakers ahead 24-22.
Indiana played without G Jamaal Tinsley, who missed his sixth game with a torn biceps muscle, and F Austin Croshere, sidelined due to the mild concussion he sustained Sunday night at Sacramento. ... Jackson picked up a technical foul in the second quarter, and Bryant got one in the third period. ... Lakers rookie Andrew Bynum played the final 4:11 of the second quarter and scored six points to match his career high. ... Former Pacers star Reggie Miller watched the game from a courtside seat near the Lakers' bench. ... The teams combined to shoot 73 free throws -- 42 by the Pacers. ... The Lakers outrebounded the Pacers 53-46.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||28-75 (.373)||34-80 (.425)|
|3PM-3PA||3-16 (.188)||6-17 (.353)|
|FTM-FTA||31-42 (.738)||22-31 (.710)|
|Fast Break Points||11||5|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||30 (1/0)||29 (2/0)|