OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Kobe Bryant knew he would need a clear
head to overcome his clogged sinuses. So while everybody else
butted heads, he calmly rose to another historic performance of the
NBA's best one-man show.
Chris Mihm added 16 points, but Bryant's stellar play with a
sinus infection was just about the only beautiful thing in the
Lakers' third straight victory over the Warriors. Bryant scored 40
points for the 16th time this season while conserving his energy
and playing with thoughtful caution.
"I've played sick before," Bryant said, recalling his 2002
playoff performance against the Sacramento Kings after apparently
getting food poisoning from a room-service cheeseburger. "I've
played sicker than this. It's kind of old hat for me. You've just
got to use your energy more wisely, play a more cerebral game. You
have to pick your spots."
Bryant's spots were all over the floor against the Warriors,
even though he was on medication he wouldn't name "because they'll
put me in the BALCO investigation," he joked.
With a jumper late in the first quarter, the NBA's leading
scorer this season got his 16,000th career point at 27 years and
192 days old -- four days earlier than Wilt Chamberlain, who reached
the mark in 1964.
"He started when he was 17," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of
Bryant. "It's great, but it's not the stuff I care about. It's
something he'll look back on some day and say, 'That's
Bryant also scored nine straight points for the Lakers in the
final 5 minutes, including seven after Golden State trimmed a
21-point deficit to nine on Baron Davis' 3-pointer with 3:08 to
Los Angeles avoided falling below .500 for the first time in two
months, delighting the large contingent of Lakers fans among the
Golden State franchise-record crowd of 20,375 at the sold-out
Jason Richardson scored 27 for the Warriors, who lost for the
fifth time in six games since the All-Star break to match the worst
stretch of their once-promising season. Golden State still is in
the playoff chase, but wasted its latest chance to cut its deficit
behind the eighth-place Lakers to 2½ games.
"They've got the eighth spot that we want," Richardson said.
"The frustration is (Bryant) is a great player. He came in and led
his team to the victory."
Davis returned to the Warriors' lineup in limited action after
missing the last seven games with a sprained right ankle. He had 10
points and five rebounds after tweaking his ankle again in the
first half, but played even less defense than usual in 26 minutes
off the bench.
"If you don't outwork your opponent, you're not going to win,"
Davis said. "And tonight, we got outworked, we got bullied, we got
pushed, and we didn't push back until it was too late."
The choppy, sloppy game was as ugly as the welt on Mike
Dunleavy's head after a collision with Brian Cook, who appeared to
head-butt the Golden State forward in the third quarter. A few
seconds later, Mihm's tender right shoulder was hit hard by a
Warriors defender, sending Mihm to the bench with a grimace.
The Lakers shot 42 free throws, including 18 by Bryant -- and
referee Bennie Adams called five technical fouls, including three
on the Warriors in 3½ minutes of the second quarter. Adams also
ejected Lakers guard Smush Parker with 9:44 to play.
Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher had to be separated by teammates
with 2.1 seconds to play after Odom committed a hard foul -- his
sixth -- on Fisher. The pair exchanged words again after the buzzer,
but after the game Odom claimed "nothing" happened.
Just two months earlier, Bryant became the youngest player
to score 15,000 career points. But Bryant, who entered the NBA
straight out of high school 10 years ago, did it in 657 games --
only the 29th-fastest in league history. He scored his 16,000th
point in his 684th career game, 22nd-fastest in terms of games
played. ... San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom tossed up the
ceremonial opening jump ball, then watched the game from a
courtside seat. ... Golden State's Andris Biedrins airballed a free
throw in the first quarter.