Great players just find a way to get it done. Kobe Bryant not only lead the Lakers (9-10) to a much needed win on the road against the lowly New Orleans Hornets (5-12), he also became the youngest player in NBA history to ever reach 30,000 career points in his spare time.
Kobe joins a short list of NBA legends — 3 of which are former Laker players — that includes: Wilt Chamberlain (31,419), Michael Jordan (32,292), Karl Malone (36,928) and "The Cap" Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387).
Bryant surpassed the milestone on a floating runner over Robin Lopez and did it at just 34 years, 104 days old eclipsing Chamberlain's record of 35 years, 179 days. However, that record might've been broken a lot earlier in Kobe's career if he hadn't started as a bench player in his first 2 seasons. Yet, here he is still getting it done faster than anybody else to ever played the game.
But hold on, Kobe wasn't the only Laker to have surpassed a record the same night.
Metta World Peace quietly but surely became the 6th player in league history to ever hit at least 12,000 points, 4,000 rebounds, 1,000 3-pointers and 1,500 steals. But unlike Bryant, there is no Jordan in Metta's list. The other 5 players to earn this mark include: teammate Kobe Bryant, Reggie Miller, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd and Paul Pierce.
A victory would only be icing on the cake for the Lakers. And they got it.
Despite a slow defensive and rebounding start, the Lakers eventually got it going and grabbed the lead for good on an Antawn Jamison 3 in the 3rd quarter, which was a part of a 27-6 run to start the 2nd half.
The Lakers came out of halftime focused on team defense lead by none other than Dwight Howard with block shots and forcing any Hornet layup attempt to come way off the mark.
In fact, Dwight and Kobe got into a bit of argument during a timeout at the end of the opening quarter. That shouting match may have been about defensive rebounds or defensive rotation on Howard's man when he goes up for a block. Either way, D12 turned into a defensive and rebounding juggernaut all made possible by his teammates helping him out.
Howard finished with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks.
Their starting forwards turned in another solid night. Jamison worked hard on both baskets and is looking more and more like the former 6th Man of the Year the Lakers signed. Despite being 36 years of age, Jamison is still versatile enough to play either in the halfcourt set or in the run-and-gun style of Mike D'Antoni. He's already averaging 12.5 points a game since D'Antoni's arrival and without Steve Nash. Expect his point production to go up a bit when Nash comes back.
Jamison chalked in 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-6 from distance.
If you haven't already noticed, Metta is averaging 12.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals in just 19 games this season. You can thank his absurd new physique and conditioning for that. But World Peace has always been a guy who brings it each game. He's been one of the most consistent players for the Lakers thus far this season, and I don't see that stopping, barring an injury, at all.
World Peace ended with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals.
The bench were spearheaded by Jordan Hill and Jodie Meeks. Hill was superb again with 9 points, 8 boards and a block. We all know that Jordan is a spark plug and a tireless worker on the floor. But he's starting to show a much-improved mid-range jumper.
(I still don't see how D'Antoni see him as a liability in his system.)
Despite an uninspired opening half, the Lakers worked as a team and helped one another on defense in the final 2 quarters of the game. Howard has been preaching that kind of work ethic on that end of the court for weeks now, and it's anybody's guess why the team is just starting to pick up on it just now.
Regardless, they will need to make sure they stay on top of that from here on out, but especially on Friday when they head for Oklahoma City.
The Lakers are already getting it done offensively in terms of running D'Antoni's system (thanks in large to Chris Duhon) even with Nash on the shelf. So, everything on that end of the hardwood should not be a problem at all when he returns.
But just like last season, putting up points was never the issue with this team. It's their tenacity and effort on the other end that's always been up in the air each night out.
Our previous post focused on D'Antoni needing to do his dilligence in coaching the team better on defense and in their consistency by being more assertive in making sure his players understand the importance of solving their glaring problems on hand as soon as possible.
At least with Kobe and Dwight going at it in that 1st quarter timeout, we now know that the players do care about improving, and more importantly, are willing to make that happen.
We'll see how they apply that on Friday against the #2 team in the west.
Player of the Game
Kobe Bryant: 30,000 is a lot of points. But his aggressiveness and that one-handed tomahawk dunk around Greives Vasquez in the 2nd quarter looked to have fueled the rest of the team the rest of the way. Congrats again, Kobe!
at Oklahoma City Thunder
Friday, December 7, 2012
6:30 p.m. (PST)
TV: TWC SportsNet/ESPN
Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW
Game Highlights (by LALakersHD)