Kobe reaches milestone in win
DALLAS - Agence France-Presse
Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant pours in 38 points against the Dallas Mavericks just two days after scoring 40 points against the Portland Trail Blazers. AFP photoKobe Bryant fired back at Dallas owner Mark Cuban with 38 points as he lifted the Los Angeles Lakers past the Mavericks 103-99 on Feb. 24.
After Cuban recently suggested the Lakers should consider waiving Bryant and his league-high salary next season, the five-time NBA champion showed his worth with an artistic display of clutch shooting and all-around effort that included 12 rebounds and seven assists.
“It was a big win for us,” Bryant told reporters after finishing with 14 fourth-quarter points to seal the triumph. “(I tried to) be patient, attack but still read the defense. We made some tough shots.” Dallas (25-30) led 90-87 midway through the fourth quarter but visiting Los Angeles nosed ahead with a seven-nil run led by Bryant and Steve Nash who finished with 20 points.
Bryant also became the youngest player in NBA history to surpass the 31,000-point mark.
Five-time NBA champion reached the 31,000 milestone at 34 years, 185 days.
Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain had the old mark at 36 years, 164 days.
Bryant makes ‘unbelievable plays’
“Kobe made some unbelievable big plays coming down the stretch,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “All he needs is the ball. Just throw it over to him and that’s how he likes to operate.”
Steve Nash finished with 20 points and Dwight Howard grabbed 13 rebounds and nine points for the Lakers, who have won five straight games in Dallas. Nash is playing with a sore back.
“It’s tough when he has it going like that,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of Bryant. “I think when we look at it on film, we had a lot of missed opportunities offensively.”
Dirk Nowitzki had 30 points and 13 rebounds for Dallas, who had their three-game win streak snapped. Veteran Vince Carter and Elton Brand scored 15 and 14 points respectively.
The victory was the third straight for Los Angeles (28-29) who moved within two-and-a-half games of a Western Conference playoff spot that Bryant has guaranteed the team will secure.
Cuban’s comments centered around the NBA’s “amnesty clause,” which allows a team to release a player and avoid paying taxes on their salary.
The Mavericks owner has said that his suggestion was just hypothetical, while the Lakers released a statement saying such talk was “inappropriate.”
Bryant silenced all talk in the fourth, where he made three straight difficult jump shots to leave the Dallas crowd murmuring.
Bryant and Nash combined for 11 of the last 12 Lakers’ points to make up for a quiet day from Dwight Howard who battled foul trouble and had nine points and 13 rebounds.
Bryant was following up a 40-point game in Friday’s win against Portland.
“That’s why he’s Kobe Bryant,” said Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni. “When he puts his mind to something, for the last 17 years he’s been able to accomplish it.”
Bryant scored 40 points in a 111-107 win over Portland on Feb. 22.
“He’s been the best player in my decade,” said Nowitzki of Bryant. “I’ve in the NBA a long time and he’s the one player I love to watch. It was a big game on the national TV stage. It was a fun one. We just came up a little bit short.”
The loss also snapped the Mavericks’ string of six consecutive games scoring at least 100 points and it was just the third time in the last 19 contests they did not reach 100 points.