The Los Angeles Lakers proved last night that they don't need Kobe Bryant to light up the scoreboard every game even though it's always refreshing to see one of the league's best take over the floor.
Bryant missed his first 15 shots in Saturday's 88-85 win over the New Orleans Hornets and his go-ahead three-pointer with 20.2 seconds to go erased any doubt that the five-time champion was off his game. Bryant and the Lakers will make a quick turnaround Sunday versus the Golden State Warriors in the continuation of a four-game homestand at Staples Center.
The Lakers got 11 points from Bryant, who finished just 3 of 21 from the floor, handed out five assists and added three steals.
"It was awful. The shots I was taking were good shots and makeable, but they just weren't going in," Bryant said on the team's website. "But the crowd had my back and I have great teammates to get us through it."
Pau Gasol led the way with 21 points and 11 rebounds, Andrew Bynum collected 19 points and 10 boards and Ramon Sessions netted 10 points for the Lakers, who are one game ahead of the Clippers for the Pacific Division lead and sit third in the Western Conference standings -- one game ahead of the Clips. The Lakers rebounded from Thursday's loss to Oklahoma City and will close out the homestand Tuesday versus New Jersey.
Los Angeles is 21-5 at home this season.
The struggling Warriors enter tonight's tilt with the Lakers having lost four straight and nine of 11 games, and dropped all three tests on a recent homestand, including a 104-101 setback to the Lakers on Tuesday.
Golden State was last in action during a 102-100 loss versus New Jersey on Friday, as David Lee posted 27 points and Charles Jenkins added 18 and a career-high 12 assists. Klay Thompson scored 14 points for the Warriors, who shot 52.6 percent for the game and were outrebounded, 44-32.
"They outplayed us and we took our foot off the gas pedal," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "We didn't close them when we had them and it came back to bite us."
Jackson's squad is playing out the string in his first year at the helm and will begin a four-game road trip tonight against the Lakers, Grizzlies, Timberwolves and Jazz. Golden State is 9-14 away from Oakland, and Jenkins is averaging 19.0 points, 7.0 assists and 1.7 rebounds in his three starts this season.
The Warriors are winless in two chances against the Lakers this season and have dropped 14 of the past 15 meetings between the teams. Golden State hasn't achieved much success as the guest in this series, losing seven in a row and 23 of 25 matchups.
The Lakers have swept four of the last six season series with the Warriors and have not lost a set to Golden State since they were defeated 2-3 during the 1994-95 campaign. In 57 career games, including 48 starts against the Warriors, Bryant is averaging 27.1 points per game. His 1,545 points scored against Golden State is the highest total among all his opponents.