He typically doesn’t need to be at his best offensively against the New Jersey Nets for the Lakers to win.
Bryant looks to bounce back from a rough outing as Los Angeles goes for its sixth straight victory Sunday over a Nets team trying to avoid losing its seventh in a row.
The Lakers (16-7) entered Friday’s game against Chicago averaging 105.0 points during a three-game winning streak, but the offense struggled to get in gear, finishing with a season low in points in an 88-84 loss. Things fell apart for Los Angeles in the second quarter, when it shot 4 for 15 from the floor, committed eight turnovers and was outscored 24-10.
“We shot poorly,” coach Phil Jackson said. “Guys were long, inconsistent. We made one outside shot in the first half. That’s not a professional response to this game.”
Bryant was never able to get in rhythm, finishing with 23 points on 9-of-23 shooting.
The Lakers are 4-5 when Bryant shoots below 42.5 percent - compared to 12-2 when he’s above that mark - but the team might still have a good chance at winning even if the 12-time All-Star’s shooting touch is off again.
Bryant is averaging 18.2 points in Los Angeles’ five victories over the Nets since a 102-100 loss on Nov. 25, 2007, shooting below 30 percent in three of those games. The Lakers have still managed to outscore New Jersey by an average of 17.6 points during that win streak.
Bryant’s struggles against New Jersey are nothing new. In 21 career games versus the Nets, the four-time scoring champion has a 21.8 scoring average, his lowest against any team. Los Angeles is 14-7 in those games.
In five games against the Nets since he joined the Lakers, Gasol has averaged 24.0 points on 64.8 percent shooting along with 10.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.
New Jersey (6-17) is hoping to have one of its top scorers back for this contest after Devin Harris(notes) sat out the final three quarters of Thursday’s 102-89 loss to Dallas because of a sprained left shoulder.
Harris, second on the Nets in scoring with an average of 16.3 points, was injured when he tried to deflect an alley-oop pass and fell to the floor. He was scoreless in 9:22, the first time since Jan. 21, 2007, he failed to get a point.
“It doesn’t feel good,” Harris said after the game. “It’s the one part of the body I wish I didn’t hit was the left shoulder.”
The Nets have lost a season-worst six straight, and the last three haven’t been close, getting outscored by an average of 17.7 points. New Jersey has allowed at least 100 points in those three, falling to 2-10 when letting opponents reach the century mark.
Los Angeles, one of the league’s top-scoring teams at 106.7 points per game, is 13-2 when reaching 100.
However, the Lakers have been held under 100 in five consecutive road games and lost four of them, with the only win coming at Staples Center against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. This will be the third stop on their seven-game road trip.