Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 2/4

Game 1: Saturday, February 4th
Game 2: Wednesday, March 8th
Game 3: Sunday, March 26th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 19th

Hornets 95

(38-44, 14-27 away)

Lakers 115

(45-37, 27-14 home)

Coverage: COX

7:30 PM ET, April 19, 2006

STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

1 2 3 4 T
NO 20 18 25 3295
LAL 32 33 29 21115

Top Performers

NO/Oklahoma City : M. Jackson 15 Pts, 13 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

Los Angeles: K. Bryant 35 Pts, 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl

Kobe scores 35 as Lakers romp, clinch seventh

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant did his best this season to turn around the Los Angeles Lakers. He hopes what he and the team accomplished is just the beginning.

35.0 PPG in a single season (Minimum 70 games)
'61-62, Wilt Chamberlain 50.4
'62-63, Wilt Chamberlain 44.8
'60-61, Wilt Chamberlain 38.4
'59-60, Wilt Chamberlain 37.6
'86-87, Michael Jordan 37.1
'63-64, Wilt Chamberlain 36.9
'66-67, Rick Barry 35.6
'05-06, Kobe Bryant 35.4

Bryant scored 27 of his 35 points in the first half to officially win his first scoring title with the NBA's highest scoring average in 19 years, and the Lakers beat the New Orleans Hornets 115-95 Wednesday night to clinch seventh place in the Western Conference.

"It was a good season for me individually. I'm more proud of what we accomplished as a team, getting to the postseason," Bryant said.

The Lakers face the two-time reigning Pacific Division champion Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs. The best-of-seven series begins Sunday in Phoenix.

The Lakers enter the postseason having won five straight games -- their longest winning streak in more than two years -- and 11 of their last 14 to put them a season-high eight games over .500 at 45-37.

"At the end of the season, here we are -- playing our best basketball," Bryant said.

The mood is entirely different than at this time last year, when the Lakers dropped 19 of their final 21 to finish 34-48 and miss the playoffs for just the second time in 30 years.

"This is why you come out and work," Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. "You put your time out in the gym, and being a little kid from New York, shoveling snow, dreaming of one day playing in the NBA playoffs, give yourself a chance to win the NBA championship."

Bryant, making a late-season case for league MVP honors, averaged 35.4 points, the NBA's best since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 points in the 1986-87 season. Bryant all but sewed up the scoring title several weeks ago.

Bryant came out of the game with 2:21 left in the third quarter and the Lakers leading 91-55. He played 29 minutes and shot 13-of-26 from the floor, including 4-of-10 from 3-point range, and 5-of-5 from the foul line.

Bryant's average is the eighth-highest in history, and his 2,832 points rank seventh on the all-time single-season list. The only players to score more points in a season are Wilt Chamberlain, who did it five times, and Jordan, who did it once.

"If feels good to be mentioned among the elite players who have ever played the game," Bryant said. "The ultimate goal is to win a title. That's my focus, from here on out, the rest of my career, to get back to the top.

"That's what drives me. It might take some time. It might be sooner than later."

Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal led the Lakers to three championships, from 2000-02, and to the NBA Finals two years ago. O'Neal was traded and coach Phil Jackson let go after the Lakers lost to Detroit in the 2004 Finals, but last season was a disaster.

Jackson returned this season, and with Bryant leading the way, the Lakers accomplished their goal of making the playoffs.

Points In A Season
Player Points Season Team
Wilt Chamberlain 4,029 1962 Warriors
Wilt Chamberlain 3,586 1963 Warriors
Michael Jordan 3,041 1987 Bulls
Wilt Chamberlain 3,033 1961 Warriors
Wilt Chamberlain 2,948 1964 Warriors
Michael Jordan 2,868 1988 Bulls
Kobe Bryant 2,832 2006 Lakers
Bob McAdoo 2,831 1975 Braves
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 2,822 1972 Bucks
Rick Barry 2,775 1967 Warriors

"It's been a remarkable year for him," Jackson said. "Out of necessity, he kind of carried us on his shoulders the first couple months, and as the season got into the middle part, he actually took off and had some remarkable games. He just went on a tear from that point on in the season. Things just clicked for him."

Kwame Brown had 19 points and eight rebounds, Brian Cook scored 12 points, and Smush Parker and Devean George added 10 apiece for the Lakers.

P.J. Brown scored 16 points and Marc Jackson had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Hornets, who lost 19 of their last 26 games to finish with a 38-44 record. They played the finale without four prominent players -- leading scorer David West (sore left ankle); third-leading scorer Speedy Claxton (sore knees); Kirk Snyder (sore hamstring), and Aaron Williams (sore right knee).

The Lakers never trailed. Cook scored seven points during a 16-4 run to finish the first quarter, giving them a 32-20 lead. The Hornets weren't closer than 12 points after that.

"It's been a long, strange year," said Hornets coach Byron Scott, whose team played most of its games in Oklahoma City because of the Hurricane Katrina. "It doesn't matter what happened tonight -- I was going to be proud of the way our guys played this season.

"We didn't end it the way we wanted to the last four games, but we made big-time progress from where a lot of people expected us to be at this particular point, and we have a lot to look forward to."

Game notes

Chris Mihm played for the first time since severely spraining his right ankle March 12. Mihm, a starter before being hurt, had two points and one rebound in 14 minutes. "I'm just happy to be back and have a chance to go here," he said. "I don't know how much better it's going to get. Final rehab and rest is what's going to heal this thing fully." ... The Lakers went 3-1 against the Hornets this season, and have won 15 of the last 18 games between the teams, including nine of the last 10 in Los Angeles ... Scott, who played 11 seasons for the Lakers, said he'll be pulling for his former team in the playoffs. "I'll always bleed purple and gold, but I'm not going to give up any wins," he said before the game. ... Lakers F Luke Walton was elbowed in the left side of the face in the first quarter. He was taken to Centinela Hospital for X-rays and CT scans, which revealed no fractures.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 95 115
FGM-FGA 40-84 (.476) 45-87 (.517)
3PM-3PA 4-10 (.400) 11-27 (.407)
FTM-FTA 11-16 (.688) 14-16 (.875)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-39 8-38
Assists 23 22
Turnovers 15 10
Steals 3 8
Blocks 0 4
Fast Break Points 10 17
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (0/1) 17 (1/0)
Largest Lead 0 36

Top Performers

No/oklahoma City
Los Angeles
Marc Jackson Jackson
Points: 15
Reb: 13
Ast: 2
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Kobe Bryant Bryant
Points: 35
Reb: 5
Ast: 3
Stl: 3
Blk: 0