When the Lakers played in Philadelphia earlier in the season, Kobe Bryant scored a total of nine points and his team needed a fourth-quarter comeback to hold on for the win.
This time around Bryant scored 10 points in the fourth quarter alone en route to a game-high 33, holding off a Sixers' comeback by dropping in the Lakers' last six points, including the final four points of the game after it was tied up 98-98.
Bryant's heroics were downplayed by a sense of disappointment from the Lakers in almost losing a game in which they held a 14-point lead in the third quarter.
"Too many mistakes," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We make too many mistakes."
The Lakers had 15 turnovers leading to 19 points by the Sixers. Philadelphia also outscored L.A. 18-3 in fastbreak points as the Lakers looked sloppy at times in transition defense.
"You have to eliminate those kind of things," Jackson said. "We have to start understanding that down the stretch you don’t make mistakes like that."
Lou Williams missed a go ahead 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds left, nearly mimicking the way the Sixers beat the Lakers at Staples Center two seasons ago on a buzzer-beating 3.
"[We’re] disappointed we blew the lead," Andrew Bynum said. "We don’t want to put ourselves in this position continually, having games be up in the air at the end. We want to put a team away and put the ice bags on."
Early on in the first quarter, Bryant sized up Jodie Meeks in front of him on the left wing. I say "in front" instead of "guarding" because Bryant blew past him undeterred to get into the lane where he was met by a help-defending Andre Nocioni.
This time he threw down the dunk with two hands to yolk it on Nocioni.
"It felt good," Bryant said. "I haven’t had one coming down the middle in a while. I feel strong."
When asked about Bryant's slam, Bynum broke into a big smile.
"Ah man, that was nuts," Bynum said. "He looked like No. 8 on that one."
Bynum finished with eight points and 15 rebounds in 31 minutes, starting his second straight game at center.
The 15 boards were the most rebounds he had collected in a single game since nearly a year ago when he grabbed 18 against Milwaukee on Jan. 10 of last season back before he had his late-season Achilles' injury, followed by all the complications with his right knee.
Bynum lamented that he should have been more aggressive on offense (even though the drop-step dunk he had on Elton Brand in the first quarter still put him in the plus side on the aggressive meter for the game in my opinion) but took some solace in how he controlled the caroms.
"Rebounding wise I was there," Bynum said. "The ball was coming to me."
"He didn't score a lot of points," Jackson said. "But he had a good game."
Bynum to the starting lineup means Lamar Odom to the bench, and the lefty forward excelled in the reserve role for the second straight game.
After scoring a career-high 24 points off the bench against N.O., L.O. had 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes vs. Philly.
Odom, who ranks seventh amongst Western Conference forwards after the second All-Star ballot returns (you can vote for him here), has been consistent all season long.
"He’s still a kind of lackadaisical guy [but] he’s a guy who’s playing the game and his approach is that he’s there and he’s ready," Jackson said. "He’s been in a good frame of mind I think about basketball. That’s the one thing we’ve noticed."
Added Odom: "I've grown a lot. I've been through some thing that helped me develop mentally. Being comfortable and being happy is one of them. We practice focus. My focus is a lot different."
Threatening to tear away from Odom's focus is a proposed reality TV show starring himself and his celebrity wife, Khloe Kardashian.
Odom denied the show is a reality just yet, saying, "The decision hasn't been made."
With Doug Collins in the building, it was the perfect time to ask Jackson if he could envision coming back to coach after this "last stand" season of his, much the way that Collins took a break in the broadcast booth from 2003 when he coached the Wizards until 2010 when he returned to the sidelines in Philadelphia.
"No," Jackson said, abruptly.
"I think I put in my service time," Jackson said. "I think everything got done with due diligence that I set out to do, especially with this organization and I've coached about as long as I want to coach."
Matt Barnes picked up two quick technical fouls with less than a minute to go against the Hornets and was tossed from the game. He now has four Ts on the season, so the incident will cost him $6,000 in fines -- $2,000 for each of the two technicals and an additional $2,000 for his first ejection of the season. Barnes said the money is just taken out of his paycheck and added, "Me and David Stern have become good friends over the years," with a smile.
Barnes explained he was called for the first T for diving for a loose ball and trying to brace his fall against a New Orleans player but the referee interpreted it as a push. His second T came after he berated the official for the first one.
"I earned the second one," Barnes said.
Against the 76ers, Barnes referred to ref Zach Zarba by his first name on several occasions. Barnes explained Zarba was a D-League ref back when Barnes was a D-League player and they came up through the ranks together.
The back-right corner of the Lakers locker room has gotten a little lonely for rookie Derrick Caracter after his fellow first-year player Devin Ebanks was assigned to the D-League's Bakersfield Jam.
In two games with the Jam, Ebanks has averaged 7.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals in 23.0 minutes off the bench, shooting just 31.6 percent from the field in the process.
Caracter said he has been keeping tabs on Ebanks with texts and phone calls and pretty soon his cubby will be the empty one with Ebanks returning to his locker next to Caracter's in the back right corner of the locker room.
"We're going to switch in a little bit," Caracter said, expecting a D-League assignment soon as Theo Ratliff nears a comeback from left knee surgery.
Quotes of the night: "Phil [Jackson] is the master at managing his team, knowing when to push the envelope a bit and get ready to get serious for the playoffs. I mean, he's not going to get too excited if they go 5 and 5 in December or lose a couple games in January. This is a team that self-motivates itself." -- Sixers coach Doug Collins paying a compliment to Jackson, his former assistant coach in Chicago.
"We’re doing well. We can do a lot better, obviously and we will, we will in 2011 but 2010 was a kick [butt] year." -- Kobe Bryant on the calendar changing from 2010 to 2011.
Stats of the night: Bryant's 33 points marked the first time he topped the 30-point plateau in six games ... The Lakers never trailed in the game. It was their sixth wire-to-wire win of the season. Last year, they had nine in the regular season and playoffs combined ... No. 2 draft pick Evan Turner, who received a DNP-CD in the two teams' first matchup, had 12 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals filling in for the injured Andre Iguodala ... With 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, Ron Artest has now shot 50 percent or better in six of the Lakers last nine games. The three games he shot south of 50 percent were three losses for L.A.