L.A. needs a 6-1 spurt to match last season’s 23-11 start. But even if the Lakers can’t follow up this 8-2 surge by winning six of seven, scouts are almost unanimous in calling this the best post-Shaq team L.A. has had.
Kobe Bryant became the youngest player to score 20,000 points in Sunday’s win at New York, beating out Wilt Chamberlain for the distinction. Better yet, it was Kobe & Co.’s eighth victory in 10 games as they continue to put last summer’s soap opera behind them.
With his 3-pointer from the right wing at 11:08 in the 3rd quarter against the Knicks on Sunday morning Kobe Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to surpass the 20,000 point mark. Kobe also was the youngest player in league history to accumulate 10,000 – 19,000 career points
Bryant reached the milestone in his 811th game, making him the 15th fastest player to do so. His pace has increased in recent years as he was the 29th fastest to 15,000, the 22nd fastest to 16,000, the 20th fastest to 17,000, the 16th fastest to 18,000, and the 15th fastest to 19,000 points in terms of games.
Former Laker Wilt Chamberlain holds the record for fastest to 20,000 points, accomplishing the feat in just 499 games.
Earlier this year Kobe passed Utah’s John Stockton (19,711) for 31st on the career scoring list. Next up is Tom Chambers at 20,049 points.
(Statistical Assistance from Nick Mazzella and the Elias Sports Bureau)
What You Already Know:
For what seems like the past decade, the perennial underachievers from New York have struggled out of the gates, The Knicks’ roster is loaded with talent at nearly every position, with household names such as Eddy Curry, Stephon Marbury, Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford and Quentin Richardson all calling New York home. Still, despite a balanced scoring attack, the Knicks average only 94 points per game and do not have a clear cut leader on the floor as the Lakers do with Bryant.
However, even with New York’s many deficiencies, the Lakers struggled against the Knicks last year, losing both games to New York. The Lakers lost 99-94 at Phil Jackson’s old stomping grounds at Madison Square Garden and fell 107-106 in heartbreaker in Los Angeles.
What You Might Not Know:
The Knicks give up 102 points, with Eddy Curry the only Knick who’s averaging even a half a block per game. While Curry, Randolph and David Lee may be big bodies, but don’t confuse them with being defensive stoppers.
What You Already Know:
Kobe grew up in Philadelphia so coming home and playing in front of his hometown fans is something #24 always cherishes. Unfortunately, Philly fans have historically not shared in the love fest, often booing Kobe for large durations of games.
Despite being predicted by many to be one of the league’s worst teams, the Sixers have pleasantly surprised many, compiling a series of solid victories to bump their record to a better than expected 10-15. This is on the heels of their solid season-ending run to finish a respectable 35-47 despite Allen Iverson’s mid-season departure.
The Sixers are led by Andre Iguodala’s 18 points and six rebounds. Samuel Dalembert anchors Philadelphia on D, pulling down 10 rebounds and blocking 2.64 shots for a Sixers’ defense that holds opponents to 94 points per game, good enough for seventh in the league.
LakersTV was on hand to record the festivities and turned the mic over to some of the kids to see what the Lakers want for Christmas.
Sasha and Lamar want to beat the Suns on Christmas Day. Fish is hoping for continued health for him and his family. Kobe… the guy just wants to win another NBA championship. Check out the video here (Kobe makes his declaration at the 2:45 mark).
The hype machine is in full effect as former and current “next Michael Jordan”s get set to meet up in Cleveland tonight. ESPN polled it’s group of NBA scribes (Henry Abbott, J.A. Adande, Chris Broussard, Ric Bucher, John Hollinger, Chris Sheridan, & Marc Stein) on 5 questions relating to the Mamba & LBJ.
The piece is a fascinating look at how Kobe is viewed from a national perspective as opposed to how we that see (and cheer for) him on a daily basis view him.
Question 1: Fifteen seconds left, down by 2. Who do you want with the ball?
Kobe takes this one in a landslide. The main factors sited are Kobe’s experience with such shots in big games, his ability to make the impossible shot, a propensity to get his shot from anywhere, and his killer instinct.
Bucher makes an interesting point by quoting Stephen Jackson when he said that Kobe has no tendencies. Adande brushed the dust off this classic moment from the 2004 playoffs.
What You Already Know:
After bowing out to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals last year, the Cavs have struggled to carry the momentum into this season, opening up with a sub par 11-15 record and losing eight of their last 10 games. As was the case with Kobe and the Lakers the past three seasons, King James is essentially forced into being the everyman for Cleveland with usually reliable scorers Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden failing to provide much in the way of reinforcement.
For all of the hoopla the Lakers have received over the past few years for being a Kobe-centric team, the Cavaliers are also decidedly one dimensional. Led by LeBron James, Cleveland — like the Lakers — has no real second option either, although their roster is filled with players who were once accustomed to the role.
Last season, the Cavaliers played much better team ball, using LeBron more as a facilitator like the Showtime Lakers used to use Magic Johnson. Kobe summed up James’ situation best when he said, “I think he’s a great facilitator. He’s scoring the ball now for his team. His team pretty much needs him to do everything, so he’s been able to kind of elevate his game accordingly.” More simply put, LeBron needs help in a bad way and it’s likely going to have to come from within.
The homepage has a feature up right now about the newest Laker, Trevor Ariza. The feature delves into Trevor’s journey around the NBA and his return to Los Angeles.
I read this:
Q. What life lessons can you take away from your time in New York and Orlando?
A. In New York, I was young, like 18, 19 so I definitely learned a lot from the older guys I was with since they’ve been in the game for so long. Sometimes, it was Stephon Marbury, Kurt Thomas…all those guys that were in New York with me. In Orlando, I learned what it’s like to bond as a family on your team.
And said to myself, “Thank God he’s got Derek Fisher to hang out with”
James is in a different place. He was just named Forbes Magazine’s No. 1 earner among stars younger than 25, a list that included Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen at No. 5. (Reggie Bush, Maria Sharapova and Michelle Wie were in between James and the Olsen twins.)
James turns 23 on Dec. 30, but he had an early birthday party at a New York nightclub Tuesday night — even though the struggling Cavaliers were in the midst of a stretch of five games in seven nights that is their most tiring of the season.
The Cavs then went out and got worked over to the tune of an 18-point loss against the woeful Knicks. At least the King won’t have to worry about pulling gray hairs anytime soon–Kobe does.
Excitement in Lakerland is peaking with the 15-9 start, but to Phil and Kobe, it’s just a start. According to Derek Fisher, the third youngest team in the league has been steadied by an ever-maturing Kobe throughout the season.
Fisher spent last season with the Utah Jazz and the previous two with the Golden State Warriors after leaving the Lakers as a free agent in the summer of 2004. He re-signed with the Lakers last summer and rejoined Bryant in the backcourt.
“My observations, for sure, are that he’s a different individual,” Fisher said of Bryant. “He’s grown and matured. I personally can’t imagine coming into this (NBA) world at 18 or 19 years old, trying to maneuver around with all the things you have to figure out, and do it at the level of stardom that he was at coming out of high school.”