Bryant was generous in sharing the ball with his teammates,
helping five of them score in double figures of a 123-104 victory
over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.
"It's about being a big brother, giving them encouragement, but
also getting on top of them at times," said Bryant, who had eight
points on 2-of-9 shooting after averaging 45 points in his previous
Smush Parker led the Lakers with 23 points. Andrew Bynum added
19 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high six blocked shots. Luke
Walton had 18 points, and Brian Cook and Maurice Evans had 16
"I got a bunch of layups," Parker said. "I was able to get to
the front of the rim on a number of occasions. I give it to my
teammates. They made the extra passes and I was the recipient."
It was the Lakers' eighth consecutive victory over Denver at
Staples Center, where they are 13-1 against the Nuggets.
The Lakers had a season-high 39 assists, with Bryant getting 10
and Walton eight in coach Phil Jackson's 899th career victory.
"Kobe facilitated a lot of things," Jackson said. "I know
there's some people out there that wanted him to score. But he did
the right thing in the type of game that was being played. I think
he felt very comfortable with that, too."
Bryant spent the fourth quarter on the bench with both knees
heavily wrapped. During a timeout, he moved over to joke with
injured Lamar Odom after laughing it up with Parker, Cook and
Earl Boykins scored 24 points for the Nuggets, who dropped their
fourth in a row. Allen Iverson had 16 points -- he was averaging
28.8 coming in -- in his seventh game since being traded from
Seeing Iverson in a blue jersey startled Bryant.
"I told him he looked weird," he said.
"They jumped right on us from the beginning. We just couldn't
recover from it," Iverson said. "They beat us all throughout the
game. We couldn't stop them and we struggled on offense again."
Just as Bryant didn't expend any energy in the fourth, the crowd
didn't either, with sections of seats emptying out. The outcome was
never in doubt after the Lakers led by 13 points at halftime.
Parker did most of his damage in the first half, when he had 20
points and the Lakers shot 52 percent.
Bryant had two points on free throws in the first half and
dished out nine of his 10 assists.
"They're the best passing team in the NBA and they proved it,"
Denver coach George Karl said.
Los Angeles scored 15 consecutive points -- with Parker, Bynum,
Cook and Walton contributing -- in the opening quarter to lead 21-9.
"When you let them get off to a confident start in their own
building, it's kind of stupid," Karl said. "We never got a
defensive dimension in the game."
The Nuggets closed within seven to start the second quarter, but
the Lakers stretched their lead to 14 on back-to-back 3-pointers by
Maurice Evans and Jordan Farmar.
Los Angeles was up 104-87 heading into the fourth.
Bryant's previous season low was 15 points against Seattle
on Nov. 3. ... Parker finished one point shy of his career high.
... Jackson said Odom probably wouldn't go on the Lakers' road trip
beginning Tuesday at Memphis. He'll stay behind to continue therapy
on his sprained right knee. ... Denver fell to 3-5 since the NBA
suspended Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith for fighting with the New
York Knicks. ... Former USC star and current Arizona Cardinals
quarterback Matt Leinart attended the game wearing Bryant's No. 24
Tyronn Lue, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving explain what the Cavaliers will be trying to do differently after falling to the Raptors in Game 3.
Denver's Mike Miller attempts to make 25 consecutive 3-pointers on a mini basketball hoop.
Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas could return from an ankle injury Monday night against the Cavaliers.