Los Angeles, CA – He had a mask over his face, but Kobe 85 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
Bryant, playing with the protective facemask after suffering a broken nose and concussion in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game, scored a game-high 31 points, dished out eight assists and grabbed seven rebounds in almost 33 minutes of action.
Martell Webster and Michael Beasley each had 14 points for the Timberwolves. Anthony Randolph netted 12 and Nikola Pekovic and Derrick Williams had 10 apiece in a losing effort. All-Star Kevin Love did not play due to flu-like symptoms.
Bryant, cleared to play after he passed all of neurologist Dr. Vern Williams's tests, wasted no time proving he was okay on the court.
He pulled down a rebound on the game's first shot and sunk his first attempt from the field less than two minutes after tip-off. The guard would score 10 points in the first quarter en route to an eight-point Los Angeles lead after one.
After trailing by as many as 13 in the second quarter, Minnesota made a run at the end of the half, scoring 11 of the final 15 points before intermission to cut their deficit to 50-44.
But Los Angeles scored the first nine points of the second half to begin a 33- point third quarter, paced by Bryant's 14 and Gasol's 11.
The Lakers took a 54-44 advantage on Bryant's jumper at the 10:50 mark of the third, and led by double digits thereafter.
Los Angeles continues a three-game homestand when it hosts Sacramento on Friday. Minnesota travels to Phoenix on Thursday...The Lakers led by as many as 27. The Timberwolves never led...Minnesota shot 39.3 percent (35-of-89) from the field, including 25 percent (5-of-20) in the third quarter...Los Angeles outscored Minnesota 54-40 in the paint.