OKLAHOMA CITY — When Kobe Bryant hit a jump shot early in the third quarter, he scored his 13th and 14th points of the Lakers’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder and passed Adrian Dantley for 19th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Bryant’s hoop gave him 23,178 points for his career. He is the third-leading scorer in Lakers history after passing Elgin Baylor in Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Only Jerry West (25,192) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (24,176) have scored more than Bryant while with the Lakers.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Lakers led by 12 by halftime thanks to 56.1 percent shooting (23-for-41). Kobe Bryant had 10 points but faced tight defensive pressure from the Thunder’s Kevin Durant, who is three inches taller than the 6-foot-6 Lakers guard. In addition, he has the wing span of someone closer to 7-foot. Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar added eight points apiece in the first half. Durant missed his first four shots, but finished the half by making 9 of his next 10 and scored 19 points.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Lakers center Pau Gasol was named the Western Conference player of the week after averaging 20.3 points on 63.5 percent shooting, 10.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists in victories over Atlanta, Golden State, New Orleans and Minnesota. Gasol had his third-career triple-double in the Lakers’ rout of the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 17. He had 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
OKLAHOMA CITY — First, we’re not in Seattle anymore. The SuperSonics moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City last summer and became the Thunder. Or as Phil Jackson calls them the Tornadoes. First impressions of OKC are mixed. Friendly people. Easy to get around. Bland downtown. All of which describes Fresno, too.
Second, the Thunder have lost five consecutive game and are 13-43, last in the Northwest Division. The Lakers started the Thunder’s skid by defeating them by a modest 105-98 margin Feb. 10 at Staples Center.
Third, Kevin Durant has scored 30 or more points in eight of nine games in February. The 20-year-old second-year player from the University of Texas is fourth in the league in scoring with an average of 26.2 points.
MINNEAPOLIS — Here’s some of the best and brightest postgame analysis after the Lakers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight.
Coach Phil Jackson on why the game was so close: “Our pathetic defense is what I was going to say. I thought we just played sloppy defense and didn’t put our minds to it.”
Kobe Bryant on whether the Lakers gave an Oscar-worthy performance: “Yeah, we were going for best drama, actually.”
Bryant on whether beating Minnesota by 111-108 qualified as a good win: “No, we’ll take it. We’ll take it for what it is. We obviously could play a lot better, but they made a lot of tough shots. … The important thing is we survived a game like this.”
Pau Gasol on the Lakers’ defense: “They were hitting shot at the beginning of the game (but) our defense wasn’t as tight and as aggressive as it should have been. We were never able to leave them behind us and get away from them and score. We weren’t sharp tonight as far as intensity.”
MINNEAPOLIS — Kobe Bryant scored 28 points, and Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol added 25 apiece to lead the Lakers past the Minnesota Timberwolves, 111-108, tonight at the Target Center. Bryant also had seven assists and six rebounds. Odom added 14 rebounds. Gasol and five assists and five rebounds. Ryan Gomes and Sebastian Telfair each had 20 points for the T-Wolves, who could not prevent the league-leading Lakers from improving to 46-10.
MINNEAPOLIS — Kobe Bryant passed Elgin Baylor and moved into 20th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list during the Lakers’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight. Bryant dunked to finish a fastbreak in the opening minutes of the second half to push past Baylor, a former Lakers Hall of Famer. Bryant went into the game needed 13 points to tie Baylor with 23,149 points in his career. Baylor began his career with the Lakers in Minneapolis. The player and the team moved to Los Angeles before the 1960-61 season.
Bryant scored 12 points and added five assists and Pau Gasol had 17 points to lead the Lakers to a 54-40 lead by halftime over the surprisingly feisty Timberwolves. Lamar Odom added 10 points and five rebounds during a sluggish first half. Ryan Gomes led Minnesota with 14 points in the first half, and backup Craig Smith added 11. Minnesota was without Al Jefferson, its leading scorer and rebounder. Jefferson is out for the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn knee ligament.
MINNEAPOLIS — First, Al Jefferson is out for the season after undergoing surgery on a damaged knee ligament. Jefferson averaged a team-leading 23.1 points and 11 rebounds in 50 games before he was injured two weeks ago. He had 34 points and 13 rebounds in the Timberwolves’ loss to the Lakers on Jan. 30.
Second, Kevin Love has replaced Jefferson as the Timberwolves’ center. Love, a 6-foot-10 rookie from UCLA, is averaging modest totals of 9.6 points and 8.8 rebounds in 54 games. He is slated to make only his 13th start of the season today against the Lakers.
Third, Bobby Brown and Shelden Williams are expected to make their Timberwolves debuts today after they were acquired last week from Sacramento for Rashard McCants and Calvin Booth. Brown and Williams did not dress for Friday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers. (UPDATE: Williams is on the inactive list).
MINNEAPOLIS — The Lakers did not practice, so there’s not much to report today. One item to chew on, though. If the Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, they will move closer to sealing the best record in the Western Conference. The Lakers have 27 games remaining, including the two on this trip, and if they go 20-7 the rest of the way for a final record of 65-17, the San Antonio Spurs would have to run the table in order to catch them. The Spurs were 36-17 going into tonight’s game at Washington.
The Lakers worked overtime to defeat the New Orleans Hornets, 115-111. They didn’t play all that well in winning their third straight after the All-Star break. Kobe Bryant scored 39 points, but shot only 13-for-30. Pau Gasol had 20 points and 12 rebounds. Derek Fisher had 14 points, including the 3-pointer that sent the game to OT tied at 98-all.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson opened his postgame remarks by saying, “We made it a lot harder for ourselves, but you have to give Orlando credit.” A reporter interrupted Jackson, saying, “Uh, you mean, New Orleans.” Jackson then said, “Uh, yeah, the Hornets.”
Jackson then was asked if he would classify this as a good win. Jackson paused a moment before answering, “It gives us confidence that we can make mistakes and still come out of it with a win. I hope we learned some things that will help us along the way.”
Jackson had this to say about Bryant’s confidence despite his poor shooting: “Keep going to the wall and eventually that (stuff) will stick. And it did.”