NEW ORLEANS (AP)—The revamped and reloaded Los Angeles Lakers won’t go 82-0.
Davis made four 3-pointers and scored 23 points with 12 assists and four steals, dominating his one-on-one matchup with Bryant to such a degree that the Lakers were forced to switch other defenders onto him.
“His skills have always been there, his athleticism has always been there,” Bryant said. “I tease him sometimes because he looks a little chunky, but he still gets up off the floor. He’s a great player, a great player.”
Davis got plenty of help as the Hornets played a superb all-around game. P.J. Brown shot 7-for-7 and scored 20 points with seven rebounds, David Wesley added 17 points and five assists and George Lynch scored 15 to pace six players in double figures.
One night after a double-overtime victory over San Antonio that lasted more than 3 1/2 hours, the Lakers didn’t have the legs to keep up with the Hornets during a 28-10 third-quarter rally that turned a one-point deficit into a 17-point lead.
The Lakers pulled within 12 before Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal re-entered the game with 5:50 remaining. But Bryant shot an airball from 3-point range as the shot clock expired, Brown scored twice and Darrell Armstrong nailed the Hornets’ 12th and final 3-pointer to make it 108-90 with 3:27 left.
“This isn’t your typical back-to-back,” Bryant said. “I don’t think we’ll be going into double-overtime, back-to-back situations too much this season.”
O’Neal had 21 points for the Lakers, who won their first five games. Bryant added 11, shooting 4-for-14 while hearing far fewer boos than he did the previous night in San Antonio.
New Orleans improved to 5-1, matching the best six-game start in franchise history, despite playing without Jamal Mashburn.
Coach Tim Floyd said he did not want his team to become too reliant on the 3-point shot after the Hornets hoisted 116 and made 40 over the first five games, but the long shot was what helped the Hornets break this one open.
Los Angeles opened the third quarter with a 12-5 run to take a 67-66 lead, but Davis answered with a pair of 3s.
Lynch had a putback after a missed 3 by Davis, then hit a 3 of his own from the left corner. A 20-foot jumper by Sean Rooks and a short bank shot by Brown made it 92-75, and New Orleans maintained that 17-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
Davis, hampered by a back injury throughout last season, has been prolific during the early part of this season while leading the league in both steals (28) and 3-pointers made (23).
Coach Phil Jackson has decided to use Bryant as the primary defender on opposing ballhandlers, but the task of guarding Davis was too difficult.
“Every time I got the ball I was looking to attack,” Davis said. “I watched them play San Antonio last night and I saw some of the things that (Manu) Ginobili was doing as far as just being aggressive and getting to the hole. I felt if I could just continue to get in that lane I’d be able to score myself and find people as well.”
Bryant angered Jackson at the end of the first half by nonchalantly running the offense with the clock about to expire. Bryant dribbled the clock down to 2 seconds, then flipped a pass to Devean George several steps behind the 3-point line. George fired the ball up and hit a 3-pointer as the horn sounded, completing a quarter in which the Lakers shot 75 percent (12-for-16) and cuttheir deficit to 61-55.
Armstrong had the block of the night, racing downcourt on a fast break late in the fourth quarter and swatting away Derek Fisher’s layup attempt from behind. … O’Neal had an airball on his final free throw attempt with 2 minutes remaining. … Hornets co-owner Ray Wooldridge sat with celebrity defense attorney Johnnie Cochran and New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin. … The crowd of 18,550 was the second-largest ever for the Hornets at New Orleans Arena, falling 20 short of the record set during Game 6 of the first round of theplayoffs against Philadelphia last season.