Lakers thrive as Bryant lends helping hand

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant has a team-high 39 assists during the Lakers' three-game winning streak.

The Los Angeles Lakers have won three consecutive games—their longest win streak since winning five straight from December 14-25—and the run has coincided with one of Kobe Bryant’s most effective passing stretches of his career.

Bryant has recorded 39 total assists during the Lakers’ win streak, the most he’s ever recorded over a three-game stretch. Pau Gasol is second on the Lakers with just 14 assists since the win streak began.

Bryant has reached at least 11 assists in each of his last three games. The only other time Bryant has recorded 11 or more assists in three consecutive games was from January 16-21, 2009.

The Lakers have usually had success in Bryant’s career when he involves his teammates more often. Since Bryant’s rookie season, the Lakers are 52-22 in regular-season games in which he records at least 10 assists including 4-0 this season.

Highest Assist Pct Since January 25

Since January 25, Bryant has assisted on 51.3 percent of his teammates made field goals when he’s been on the court. Among the 149 players who have played at least three games since that date, Bryant’s assist percentage is the highest in the NBA. His percentage was just 23.1 over the first 42 games of the season.

One of the main reasons for the boost in Bryant’s assist total is where he’s setting up his teammates. During this stretch, 61.5 percent of Bryant’s helpers have come on baskets made inside the paint. In his first 42 games, just 50.5 percent of Bryant’s assists came in that area.

In fact, Bryant has been setting up his teammates even closer to the basket. Over the last three games, 48.7 percent of Bryant’s assists have come on baskets made inside the restricted area, including an average of three dunks per game. Bryant assisted on just 1.7 dunks per game entering the streak.

The good news for the Lakers is that the culture of sharing has spread throughout the team of late. A season-high 87.2 percent of the Lakers’ field goals were assisted in their win Tuesday against the Hornets and, during their win streak, 72.4 percent of the Lakers’ field goals have come off assists. Only the Trail Blazers have recorded a higher assist percentage over the same span (72.8).

Can the trends continue when the Lakers take on the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night (10:30 ET on ESPN)? Time will tell, but there is one oddity worth noting: Including the playoffs, the Lakers are 1-6 against Phoenix in games in which Bryant records 10 or more assists with the only such win coming in Game 2 of the 2010 Western Conference Finals (13).