Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Lakers continue to win without Kobe
LOS ANGELES -- Every time Kobe Bryant misses a game -- which isn't often -- the Los Angeles Lakers give another example of how much championship depth they have.
Shannon Brown set career highs with 27 points and 10 rebounds while starting in Bryant's place, and the Lakers kept rolling with a 104-94 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.
The fourth-year guard made his third start and had his first career double-double, scoring eight points in the final 1:13 while Bryant sat out his fourth straight game because of a sprained left ankle.
"I didn't really know that Kobe was going to be out again, and that I was going to start until we had our pregame talk," Brown said. "I just tried to come out and be aggressive. That team was a great team for me to play against. They're the type of team that likes to get up and down, and I like to play like that.
"So when I get the ball in the open court, I get to see what's going on and then attack or whatever I've got to do."
The defending NBA champions have won all four games they've played without Bryant, who also was unable to play in the All-Star Game. Four different players have led the Lakers in scoring during the 12-time All-Star's absence, including Ron Artest, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, who had 18 rebounds and eight points against the Warriors.
"We've got a really good team. But with Kobe, we're one of the all-time great teams -- because he's one of the all-time great players," Artest said. "We need Kobe back, but he's got to get healthy first and foremost."
All of the Lakers' starters scored in double digits. Andrew Bynum added 21 points and seven rebounds in his return to the lineup after missing two games because of a bruised right hip that still gives him discomfort. He was 8 for 11 from the field in 30 minutes.
Artest finished with 15 points, six assists, three steals and just one turnover against an aggressive defense that converted 19 Lakers turnovers into 26 points. The Warriors came in leading the league in steals, turnovers forced and points off turnovers.
"Ron is kind of like an X-factor out there. Some nights, he's been very effective and he's killed the opponent. Other nights, he's hurt the team," coach Phil Jackson said.
Anthony Morrow scored 23 points and C.J. Watson added 20 off the bench for the Warriors, who lost to the Lakers for the eighth straight time and have dropped 29 of their last 32 road games against Los Angeles. Stephen Curry had 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
The injury-ravaged Warriors, who are 2-20 against the Lakers at Staples Center since the arena opened in 1999, used their 30th different starting lineup while losing for the 10th time in 11 games.
"Morrow and C.J. kept us in the game with some big plays, but Shannon made some big plays toward the end for them and Lamar had a great rebounding game," Corey Maggette said.
Maggette had 17 points after missing two games with a dislocated ring finger on his non-shooting hand, but leading scorer Monta Ellis missed his second straight due to a sprained left knee and was in Birmingham, Ala., to get it examined by Dr. James Andrews.
The Warriors, who came in averaging a league-best 23.2 fastbreak points, didn't crack that column until Watson made a driving layup with 9:46 left in the second quarter to trim Los Angeles' lead to 38-26. Former Laker Ronny Turiaf's dunk capped a 25-9 run that turned Golden State's 14-point deficit into a 49-47 lead with 1:55 left in the half.
Bryant did not miss a game in either of the previous two seasons. The next game he plays will be his 1,000th during the regular season, and will make him the youngest player in NBA history to reach that milestone.