Uploaded on Feb 25, 2008
Kobe Bryant punches the ball down and it whacks him in the face. Game 2008 02 24, VS Seattle Supersonics, Lakers won it. Kobe was ejected in 3rd quarter. Pau Gasol had 21 points for Lakers.
SEATTLE, Feb. 24 (AP) -- Kobe Bryant made it look too easy scoring, distributing and leading the Los Angeles Lakers back to the top of the Western Conference.
Bryant scored 21 points in just 26 minutes and handed out 10 assists in Los Angeles' 111-91 win - its season-high eighth straight - over the Seattle SuperSonics on Sunday night.
The Lakers never trailed while extending their longest streak since rolling off 11 straight late in the 2003-04 season - the last time they reached the NBA finals.
Los Angeles wrapped up a stretch playing 12 of 13 on the road with an astonishing 11-2 mark, including wins in the last seven. At 39-17, the Lakers moved ahead of Phoenix for the best record in the West, the second time this season they've led the conference.
More impressively, much of this charge has come on the road. Los Angeles won its seventh straight away from home finished a stretch with 12 of 13 on the road an astonishing 11-2.
A month ago, the Lakers led the West for two days. Now, with seven weeks left in the season, should it matter that they're back on top?
"From our standpoint, we have a home schedule that is pretty good,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Now we are in a situation where we can control our own destiny and that's important.''
Pau Gasol added 22 points, and Lamar Odom had 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Gelabale led the Sonics with a career-high 21 points, making 10 of 16 shots. He was about the only Sonics player to make anything. Seattle shot just 40 percent, punctuated by rookie Kevin Durant, who missed his first seven shots. A couple of fourth-quarter dunks made Durant's stat line look a little better as he finished with 15 points. Fellow rookie Jeff Green also had 15 for Seattle.
Seattle played without starting forward Chris Wilcox and newly acquired forward Donyell Marshall, both sick. Reserve swingman Damien Wilkins also didn't play after falling hard on his wrist Friday night against Portland.
Bryant's ejection might have made a difference, but the Lakers thoroughly and efficiently blew Seattle out in the first 20 minutes. Bryant, Gasol and Odom combined for 29 of the Lakers' 34 first-quarter points as Los Angeles built a 16-point lead. Seattle briefly trimmed the deficit to 36-27 early in the second quarter, but led by reserves Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar, the Lakers scored 13 straight points, holding Seattle scoreless for nearly four minutes, and taking a 49-27 lead.
The only reason Seattle didn't trail by 30 at halftime was a surprising 14 first-half points from Gelabale, a total that surpassed his previous season-high of 12.
Notes: The Lakers were without F Vladimir Radmanovic, who strained his right calf in Saturday's win over the Clippers. Radmanovic is day-to-day. ... New Seattle F Ira Newble played 12 minutes and scored two points in his debut.