20 January 2007
Visitors from frozen Los Angeles
When the Lakers are in town, the first question anyone asks is "How was Kobe?" Kobe was fine: he scored only three points in the first quarter, all from the charity stripe, but he served up three assists and grabbed two rebounds. Those who expected Bryant to hog the spotlight would have been disappointed.
And then in the second quarter, Kobe did well, nothing much, actually, as the Hornets, down 29-25 after one, jumped out to a 59-51 lead at the half. So naturally, the third quarter began with a quick Bryant jump shot, and he wasn't going to be quiet after that, rolling up a quick 14 points and bringing the Lakers to within one, 83-82. L.A. actually led with ten minutes left, 88-87, and stayed close for a while, but the Bees poured it on in the last three minutes and dispatched the visitors, 113-103.
Kobe finished with 23, as did reserve guard Maurice Evans, and Evans took a lot fewer shots. Perhaps that explains something. And Kobe led everyone in assists, with seven.
Meanwhile, top scoring honors went to the evidently-recovered David West, who dropped in 26, swept 12 rebounds, and recorded a steal. Bobby Jackson, also back from the infirmary, scored 15. Tyson Chandler had an unexpected 17 points to go with the expected 12 boards. Rasual Butler, master of treys, got four of seven and 20 points total; his most dramatic moment was not, however, a 3-ball, but his block of a Kobe Bryant shot, which he tipped to Bobby Jackson, who tossed it back to Butler, who dropped it in, putting the Bees up by six. And the less-crummy-than-expected weather made for a full house plus, which is always a joy.
On the road now: Philadelphia on Tuesday, Toronto on Wednesday, and then the Kings in New Orleans.