Kobe first Laker since 1962 with back-to-back 50-point games

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant took over -- again.

Bryant became the first Lakers player with consecutive 50-point games in 44 seasons, following a 65-point game with 50 against Minnesota on Sunday night in Los Angeles' 109-102 victory over the Timberwolves.

"We talked about going to Kobe early in games and not waiting," coach Phil Jackson said. "He had been playing the team role, feeling the game out and waiting 'til the second half to get going. But there's just not enough time right now in the season to develop that."

Bryant became the first Lakers player with consecutive games of 50 or more points since December 1962, when Elgin Baylor did it in three straight games.

He scored 14 points in the first 8:12 to help Los Angeles build a 17-point lead.

"I'm just being more aggressive at both ends of the floor," he said. "At this point in the season, it's important that I stress the sense of urgency that we have to have, and the type of emotion and energy that you have to play with."

Only two other players have recorded back-to-back 50-point games in the last 10 years. Antawn Jamison did it in December 2000 against Seattle and the Lakers (51-51), and Allen Iverson did it in December 2004 against Milwaukee and Utah (54-51).

It was Bryant's 17th career 50-point game, including Game 6 of the Lakers' first-round playoff series against Phoenix last May. They lost that game 126-118 in overtime, but Los Angeles is 12-5 when he scores 50 or more.

The Lakers' two games prior to Bryant's spree were a 108-72 loss to Dallas -- the Lakers most lopsided defeat at home since the franchise shifted from Minnesota to Los Angeles -- and a 27-point drubbing at Denver. Last season's NBA scoring champ credits the return of Lamar Odom and Luke Walton from injuries for making these last two games possible.

"Luke and Lamar both make my life a lot easier when they're out there because they're so good at recognizing situations on the floor," Bryant said. "They're great passers, so teams can't just front me or overplay me in certain areas. I think we as a team understand that in certain situations, they've got to bring it to me in the post or in the mid-post to allow me to facilitate or attack myself."

After shooting 23-for-39 from the field in Friday's overtime victory against Portland, Bryant was 17-for-35 against the Timberwolves in sending them to their 10th straight road loss. The All-Star MVP helped secure the victory with a critical three-point play after Minnesota sliced a 19-point deficit to 95-92 on Ricky Davis' 3-pointer from the left sideline with 2:55 remaining.

Bryant has scored at least 50 points four times this season and has averaged 40 in his next game. Prior to this game, the most he ever scored immediately after a 50-point outing was 45 -- which he did twice. The fewest was 14, on a night when Shaquille O'Neal had 34 at Seattle.

The Lakers climbed a half-game ahead of Denver into sixth place in the conference with their second straight victory, which followed a season-worst seven-game losing streak.

Smush Parker had 19 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for Los Angeles. Walton, sidelined for 1 1/2 months because of a sprained right ankle, made only his second start since Jan. 26 and had 10 points and 11 assists in 36 minutes.

Davis scored 33 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost four of five. The loss put Minnesota 2 1/2 games behind Golden State for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.

Kevin Garnett added 26 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who "held" Bryant to 40 points on March 6 in a double-overtime victory at Minnesota.

"When we played them the last time, Kobe obviously took the scoring load and was aggressive and took the bulk of the shots, but we were able to contain everybody else," Garnett said. "They were a lot more active on the boards tonight and Kobe got into a flow really fast. We should have trapped him earlier."

Los Angeles used an 11-4 run to increase a nine-point halftime margin to 68-52 with 6:54 left in the third quarter. Bryant ended the rally with a three-point play and capped his 16-point quarter with a 3-pointer from the top of the key that just beat the buzzer. The basket gave the Lakers an 87-68 lead -- equaling their biggest of the game.

Minnesota opened the fourth with a 16-4 run and narrowed the gap to 91-84 on 3-pointers 32 seconds apart by Mike James and Davis, who helped fuel the rally with nine points. But the Timberwolves got no closer than three, and Bryant capped his second huge outing in three nights on a fast-break slam dunk with 10.5 seconds to play.

Bryant had been suspended one game for hitting Minnesota guard Marko Jaric in the face with an open hand while taking a shot during a double-overtime loss at Minnesota on March 6.

Game notes
Bryant followed up his career-high 81-point game against Toronto in January 2006 with 30 points five nights later against Golden State. When he got 62 against Dallas in December 2005, he scored 21 at Orlando in his next game three nights later. ... It was the fifth time this season that Bryant has attempted at least 30 shots, including a career-high 49 on Dec. 29 in a triple-overtime loss at Charlotte. The Lakers are 3-2 in those games. ... The longest road losing streak in Timberwolves history was 22 games during the 1989-90 season. They dropped 28 of their final 32 away from Target Center last season, 14 straight during one stretch.