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Kobe Bryant picking up the pace for Lakers

With three teammates injured, Bryant is scoring more and his shooting has improved dramatically.

January 09, 2009|Mike Bresnahan

The Lakers keep heading to the injured list, one by one, but Kobe Bryant has adjusted accordingly.

His production has been on the rise since he compiled 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists Christmas Day against Boston.

He had 40 points against Utah and 39 against New Orleans. He had 26 points in 33 minutes against Portland. He had an even more efficient 31 in 32 minutes against Golden State. He had a well-rounded 21 points, five rebounds and five assists in a rematch Wednesday against the Warriors.

Of particular importance is his shooting percentage, which has increased dramatically to 48.3% after enduring some rough early-season outings. If Bryant stays at his current level, he would set a personal best for shooting percentage, topping the 46.9% he shot in 2001-02.

Bryant has made 69 of 122 shots in the last six games, a commendable 56.6%.

"I've always approached the season like the Tour de France. I've approached it in stages," said Bryant, now in his 13th season. "I'm not going to sprint the hill every time. I'm going to let my teammates pull me up, and then I'm going to wait for a certain part of the race and start kind of picking it up. That's how I approach the season. I kind of pace it."

Bynum breaks out

Bryant and Pau Gasol (33 points, 18 rebounds) weren't the only ones who influenced the Lakers' 114-106 victory over Golden State.

Andrew Bynum had 18 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots against the Warriors, an improvement over recent games.

He had only seven points on two-for-seven shooting against New Orleans. He had four points against Portland. He had eight points and two rebounds against Utah.

"I definitely was not playing well," he said.

Against Golden State, he made seven of 12 shots, including some that weren't of the dunk and lay-up variety -- a pull-up jump shot and a pair of turnaround jumpers.

"I finally got some things to drop for me," he said. "I've been working on it."

Before every game, Bynum spends half an hour on his post moves and outside shot with assistant coaches Kurt Rambis and Brian Shaw.

Bynum's output will be needed while the Lakers play short-handed without Lamar Odom (knee), Jordan Farmar (knee) and Luke Walton (foot).

For the season, he is averaging 11.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots, numbers that are down from last season's 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots.

Nod from Nellie

Who says the Lakers are short-handed?

"They're tough to cover, the whole team," Golden State Coach Don Nelson said Wednesday. "You have to help on Kobe a lot, and they have a lot of weapons, and [Gasol] was the recipient of some of that."


The Lakers did not practice Thursday.


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