The Los Angeles Lakers got another high-scoring edition of the Kobe Bryant show on Wednesday, and it worked ... for most of the night. Kobe ended up with 40 points on 14-31 shooting for the game as the Lakers went to overtime at the Utah Jazz and won 90-87. But it was defense, not No. 24, that carried L.A. in the fourth and overtime.
Bryant shot 11-19 with nine free throw attempts through three quarters for 31 points, but just 3-12 with two free throw attempts for nine points in the fourth quarter and overtime. L.A. had just 12 points in the fourth to allow the Jazz to come back and force OT, but the Lakers' defense held strong. From Silver Screen And Roll's Ben R:
If there was any reason for Mike Brown to be hired, it was to implement a soul-crushing, championship-caliber defense, and for tonight, it carried the Lakers through an otherwise brutal offensive performance outside of Kobe. The Jazz shot 38.7% from the field, and it would have been a much, much worse 31.8% had Paul Millsap not put the team on his back and put up 29 points on 14-24 shooting, largely by outworking Pau Gasol, Luke Walton, and Metta World Peace on the perimeter, in the post, and for rebounds. Outside of Millsap though? The Lakers defense exacted its will on the Jazz, and one person we can thank for that is Andrew Bynum.
In other action:
Bulls 78, Wizards 64: Chicago was without Derrick Rose, C.J. Watson (the team's top two point guards) and Rip Hamilton, forcing third-string PG John Lucas to play 45 minutes. And the Bulls still beat the Wizards! The remaining Bulls locked down on defense insanely hard, holding Washington to 31 percent shooting and just 12 free throws.
Nuggets 123, Nets 115: The defense, however, did not show up in Denver as the Nuggets and Nets had themselves a shoot-out. The teams combined to shoot 55 percent from the floor and an unreal 31-53 on three-pointers. Jordan Farmar led everyone with 26, hitting six of eight threes, but Denver held on late.
Thunder 95, Hornets 85: OKC is now 10-2 and winners of five straight after pulling away late to beat New Orleans. Kevin Durant had 29 on 11-17 shooting with 10 rebounds and three assists, and Russell Westbrook added 22 points and seven assists.
Spurs 101, Rockets 95 (OT): The Rockets got some huge shots from Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola down the stretch to send the game into overtime, but ran out of steam there. Tony Parker finished with 28 points and eight assists.
Kings 98, Raptors 91: The Kings won their first game on the road to move to 4-7 on the season and 2-2 under Keith Smart. Tyreke Evans scored 29, going 14-14 from the line. DeMarcus Cousins had 21 points and 19 rebounds. Leandrinho led the Raps with 24 off the bench as Andrea Bargnani shot just 2-13.