Kobe Bryant(notes) may never match his stretch of nine consecutive 40-point games set seven seasons ago, but the Los Angeles Lakers superstar is in the midst of one of the best scoring runs of his career.
Bryant and the Western Conference-leading Lakers look to build off their biggest comeback victory in three seasons Sunday night when they host the Southwest Division-best Dallas Mavericks.
Bryant has scored at least 34 points in six straight games, which is his longest such streak since a 13-game run from Jan. 29-Feb. 23, 2003. Included in that stretch were nine consecutive games of 40 or more points, tying Michael Jordan for second behind Wilt Chamberlain’s NBA record of 14.
Bryant just missed his 104th career 40-point game in Friday’s 109-108 victory over Sacramento, finishing with 39 on a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. Los Angeles (26-6) rallied from a 20-point first-half deficit for its largest comeback since trailing Houston by 21 in a 112-101 double-overtime win on Dec. 15, 2006.
“It looked like (the Kings) went into a zone coverage on the inbounds pass, and that side was wide open,” said Bryant, averaging 38.3 points in his last six games.
The league leader with 30.6 points per game, Bryant is shooting a career-best 48.5 percent from the field this season, including 50.9 percent in his last four contests.
“Kobe’s shooting the ball at a high percentage,” Pau Gasol(notes) said Friday after scoring 17 points with 16 rebounds. “But he’s not always going to shoot like that. We understand that, and I think he understands that, too. But when he’s feeling it and the shots are going down, he’s going to keep shooting.”
Bryant, who is 16 points from passing Patrick Ewing for 15th place all-time with 24,816, is averaging 25.4 points in 44 career games versus the Mavericks. Bryant missed 13 of 19 shots, but still led the Lakers with 20 points in a 94-80 home loss to Dallas on Oct. 30.
“That was one of the longest nights we’ve had in this building,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said after his team committed 19 turnovers and shot 39.5 percent from the field. “We should refund the money to our fans.”
Los Angeles, though, is 17-2 at Staples Center since that defeat. The Lakers have won 37 of 42 at home against the Mavericks since the 1988-89 season.
Dallas (23-10), which improved its West-leading road win total to 12 with Saturday’s 99-91 victory over the Kings, hasn’t won two straight against the Lakers in Los Angeles in 26 seasons.
Dirk Nowitzki(notes) had 21 points and 10 rebounds in the Oct. 30 victory as the Mavericks snapped a six-game slide against Los Angeles. It was also Dallas’ first win visiting the Lakers since March 11, 2007.
Nowitzki is averaging 18.5 points on 34.8 percent shooting in his last four games versus Los Angeles.
Dallas sixth man Jason Terry(notes) has fared much better, averaging 24.7 points on 51.9 percent from the field in his last three road games against the Lakers. Terry is second in the NBA in scoring off the bench with 16.5 points per game.
Gasol, who missed the matchup earlier this season due to a strained right hamstring, is averaging 20.6 points and 8.8 rebounds in five games versus the Mavericks since being acquired from Memphis in February 2008.