Saturday, 02 January, 2016

Kobe Bryant scores 31 points as Los Angeles Lakers topple Denver Nuggets

Can you imagine Kobe as a Celtic?
Benjamin Gardner | 31 December, 2015, 22:20

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, left, passes over Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant, middle, as guard D'Angelo Russell looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Friday, Dec. 25, ...

Bryant is probably thinking about reversing his retirement announcement after a pronounced uptick in his play the last two weeks.

"It's the competition", he said.

Durant said fans shouldn't be fooled by Bryant's cheery on-court demeanor.

It does make for a unusual scene, Bryant laughing and enjoying himself even as the Lakers lose by 35 points. "The damn cat's not going to bark". "But the thing is, he'll smile, but he's still going to bring it. That's the thing. I think the most important thing and the most attractive thing is 'how does your legacy impact the generation of players to come?' If what I've done and what I've stood for these 20 years has impacted the players today and the players tomorrow in a positive way, in a way they can then carry that legacy on themselves and impact the generation to follow, that's much more significant than where I stand in history". This is the sixth straight victory for the Thunder over the Lakers. He had a behind-the-back pass in the third quarter that set up a 3-pointer by Lou Williams. "That third quarter, they just blitzed us, man. They got ahead with their athleticism and their speed and their length, and we we couldn't get the game under control".

"You talk about two teams that are desperate right now, for different reasons", Lakers coach Byron Scott said.

Bryant tied his season high and helped the Lakers (5-23) win for just the second time in 10 games.

"There was a lot of energy in the place", Bryant said.

Draymond Green, who averaged 14.3 points along with a team-leading 8.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists, had 160,350 votes and is fifth among Western Conference forwards. In what could be the worst stretch of Kobe's great career, he only averaged 15.9 points on 29.6 percent shooting while the Lakers produced an abysmal (2-15) record.

"They would love nothing more than to beat us by 40".

Reserve center Enes Kanter contributed 16 points and 11 rebounds, while guard Andre Roberson chipped in 15 points and seven rebounds as the Thunder (20-9) prevailed for the ninth time in 10 games.

His offensive numbers were almost overshadowed by his defense. In the first quarter he converted a four-point play when he was fouled on a 3-pointer and hit the free throw, drawing loud cheers. "That's why I was always so anxious to go out and compete against these guys, because that's the most fun - to try to figure those puzzles out". "And that's all you want - that support from your teammates".

Bryant was well supported by Jordan Clarkson, who dropped 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds.