With Kobe Bryant’s return to the lineup still a work in progress the Los Angeles Lakers lost consecutive games to Phoenix and Oklahoma City to start the week before rebounding with a huge Saturday night victory in Charlotte over the Bobcats. The Lakers are now 12th in the Western Conference with an 11-12 record, a half game behind the Minnesota Timberwolves in a bunched group of contenders.
Week Recap: After losing to the Toronto Raptors in Bryant’s debut the Lakers hosted the surprising Phoenix Suns at STAPLES Center on Tuesday night. The Sun ran out to a lead behind the solid play of point guard Goran Dragic and held off the Lakers fourth quarter comeback. Bryant score 20 points in 29 minutes of play, looking sharp in contrast to his Sunday debut. Bryant led a balanced Lakers attack and also notched three assists. The Lakers had three days off before traveling to Oklahoma City to take on Kevin Durant and the Thunder. Oklahoma City jumped out to a fifteen point halftime lead and never looked back, winning in impressive fashion. Bryant played the role of a distributor, attempting just six shots in 23 minutes, but notching 13 assists. The Lakers had no answer for Kevin Durant who scored 31 points on just 13 shots. With the Oklahoma City win the Lakers record with Bryant back in the lineup dropped to 0-3 and the loss set up a must win game Saturday night in Charlotte. The Lakers outscored the improving Bobcats by seven in the fourth quarter to notch a three point victory. Bryant led four Lakers in double figures with 21 points. Bryant nearly had a triple double with 8 assists and 7 rebounds to go with his 21 points. Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill had a solid night inside with 15 points each.
The Week Ahead: The Lakers continue their east coast road swing with a back to back Monday and Tuesday nights in Atlanta and Memphis. The Hawks are having a solid season in a very weak eastern conference and feature a solid trio of veterans in Jeff Teague, Al Horford and Paul Millsap. Memphis, a fifty-win team each of the past two seasons, is in the midst of a three-game losing streak including a Sunday night loss at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Grizzlies are trying to make do with All Star center Marc Gasol. Following the Monday/Tuesday back-to-back the Lakers return home to STAPLES Center for a Friday night matchup versus Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota got off a hot start this season but has played .500 basketball of late. The combination of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love gives Minnesota one of the best inside/outside duos in the NBA. After a short one game home stand Los Angeles makes a tough trip north to Golden State to take on Stephon Curry and the Warriors.By:Chris Michaels
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