From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: Kobe Bryant is 34 years old. He plays a game for a living. And he does it better than just about anybody else on the planet. It’s easy to forget sometimes. Just kicking back and admiring Bryant’s career seems a little misplaced when the Los Angeles Lakers have cycled through three head coaches in the first 15 games this season; when they’ve endured an array of injuries to Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Pau Gasol that has already muddled their championship aspirations; when even with a convincing 103-87 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday, they sit at just 9-10 overall and 2-5 on the road, with six of their next eight games coming away from Staples Center. Yet even with the turmoil Bryant’s team has to get through, Wednesday was a major reminder of the constant standard of excellence Bryant brings to his profession. Joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan as only the fifth player ever to score 30,000 points in his career (while also being the youngest of the five to reach the mark) is no accident. It’s a testament to Bryant’s staying power.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Kobe Bryant made NBA history — and made peace with Dwight Howard after an argument between the star teammates early in the game Wednesday night. In the latest twist in the Lakers’ weird, wild season, the team forged unity after a Kobe-Dwight confrontation and rolled to a much-needed 103-87 victory over the lowly New Orleans Hornets. Bryant, 34, became the youngest player in league history to score 30,000 points — doing it in the second quarter after he and Howard argued during the first quarter about Bryant not rotating to help Howard on defense. In a subsequent timeout, Bryant reached out a conciliatory hand toward Howard — and also delivered a 17-point first half that included a pretty shot from the lane to eclipse 30,000. The only players to have scored more than Bryant are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
From Jabari Davis, LakersNation.com: For those of us that have watched this team for years, this is a scenario we’ve all seen before. I realize Dwight Howard doesn’t care for the Shaquille O’Neal comparisons, but in this case it is far too relevant. The reality is, the Los Angeles Lakers were able to win three consecutive NBA championships with a starting center that shot 53 percent from the free throw line over the stretch (1999/2000-2001/2002). If you want to look back even further, Wilt Chamberlain shot 42 percent from the line during the 1971-72 championship season. They can’t all be the 72 percent (career) free throw shooter Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was. Fact is, many big men struggle from the line. It’s common, and something teams simply have to withstand until the issue can be resolved or improved upon. What shouldn’t be considered common? Giving up 62 points in the second half to a Houston Rockets team enduring a 3-19 (FG) game from its leading scorer, James Harden. Especially, when you consider it came just on the heels of surrendering 40 points in the fourth quarter to an Orlando Magic team that is currently 26th in the league averaging 93.1 points per game. While I certainly won’t completely gloss over the issue of Dwight Howard’s free throw percentage, I have to wholeheartedly agree with his statements when asked if coach Mike D’Antoni should bench him during “Hack-A-Howard” situations following the game:
From Steve von Horn, Silver Screen & Roll: The Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors have presented trade offers to the Lakers in efforts to acquire Pau Gasol, but Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is telling teams that the Lakers will not even consider dealing Gasol until Steve Nash returns to the lineup and a full roster can be evaluated. Marc Stein of ESPN says the Lakers aren’t looking to trade the four-time All-Star forward, at least until they get a chance to assess how he fits in Mike D’Antoni’s system alongside future Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash. Rich Bucher of CSN Bay Area reports that the Lakers may have promised Nash the chance to play with Gasol, as Bucher said this on Sulia: “Nash made it a prerequisite for passing on offers from Toronto and the Knicks that Pau would be around.”
From Mark Medina, LA Daily News: The way he tells it, it just so happens NBA Commissioner David Stern came here on the verge of Kobe Bryant becoming the fifth player to eclipse 30,000 points. He actually set foot here to meet with Hornets owner Tom Benson, but Stern sounded giddy about seeing the Lakers’ star making history. “I want to shake his hand. I think Kobe as a talent and a competitor, he’s up there on the pedestal with Michael Jordan as one of the greatest ever,” Stern said. “Kobe has had such an extraordinary run playing at the highest level for so long and the championships to prove it in a league that is extremely competitive. “Kobe and the Lakers have been an important part of the league and I wish them well for this season and beyond.”