Bryant will look to continue his recent offensive surge and lead Los Angeles to a third straight victory when it visits the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.
Coming off a season-high 65-point performance in a win over Portland on Friday, Bryant scored 50 in Los Angeles’ 109-102 victory over Minnesota on Sunday.
Bryant joined Antawn Jamison (December 2000) and Allen Iverson (December 2004) as the only players to record consecutive 50-point games in the last 10 years. Bryant is averaging a league-leading 30.0 points and appears to have the Lakers back on track after a seven-game losing streak.
“I’m just being more aggressive at both ends of the floor,” said Bryant, the first Laker to score 50 or more points in consecutive games since Elgin Baylor did it in three straight in December 1962. “At this point in the season, it’s important that I stress the sense of urgency that we have to have, and the type of emotion and energy that you have to play with.”
Los Angeles (35-32) is tied with Denver for seventh in the Western Conference.
“We talked about going to Kobe early in games and not waiting,” coach Phil Jackson said. “He had been playing the team role, feeling the game out and waiting ‘til the second half to get going. But there’s just not enough time right now in the season to develop that.”
While Bryant has dominated in the last two games, he’s also getting some help.
Luke Walton had 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 36 minutes Sunday in just his second appearance in 24 games. Lamar Odom had his best effort in three games since missing four with a shoulder injury, scoring 16 points with nine rebounds and eight assists.
“Luke and Lamar both make my life a lot easier when they’re out there because they’re so good at recognizing situations on the floor,” Bryant said. “I think we as a team understand that in certain situations, they’ve got to bring it to me in the post or in the mid-post to allow me to facilitate or attack myself.”
Tuesday marked the fifth time in 2006-07 that Bryant has scored 50 or more points, and the 16th time in his career. He’s averaging 40 points this season in games after reaching the 50-point mark.
Bryant scored 56 points - the fifth-highest total of his career - against Memphis on Jan. 14, 2002. However, he managed just 25 in a 128-118 loss to the Grizzlies on Jan. 9 in the teams’ most recent meeting.
Coming off a victory over Chicago on Saturday, Memphis (17-51) lost 114-103 to New Orleans on Tuesday to remain the only NBA team not to win back-to-back games this season.
“It’s frustrating, but what can we do?” said Paul Gasol, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds for his third straight double-double. “We try hard to come out and put two games together, but a lot of things aren’t (going) our way.”
Gasol, the team leader with 20.9 points and 9.5 rebounds a contest, had 25 points and 13 boards in the January win over the Lakers in Memphis. The Grizzlies have won six of the last seven home games against the Lakers.
The teams split the two previous meetings this season and will close out the series Tuesday in Los Angeles.