Bryant stays on fire, extends 50-point streak for Lakers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Kobe Bryant became the fourth player in NBA history to score at least 50 points in three straight games Thursday night.

Bryant said the most important thing was that it happened in another win.

"It's special because it's coming off three straight wins," Bryant said. "This is a stretch where we really need to make up some ground."

Bryant scored 60 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 121-119 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Bryant was 20-for-37 from the field, including 3-for-7 from 3s, and 17 of 18 from the free-throw line.

The last Laker with three consecutive 50-point games was Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor in December 1962. Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain are the only other players with three straight 50-point games. Chamberlain has the record with seven consecutive 50-point games, which he did in December 1961.

"It just feels great," Bryant said of joining Baylor, Jordan and Chamberlain. "Growing up I idolized all of them, from Wilt, to M.J. to Elgin. It's a tremendous honor to be in that same class with those guys and in the history books."

It was the fourth 60-point game of Bryant's career, tying him with Jordan for the second-most 60-point games in a career. Chamberlain holds the record with 32. Jordan was the last NBA player to score at least 50 points in three straight games, accomplishing the feat during the 1986-87 season.

Bryant will try to extend the run when the Lakers face the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night. Bryant scored 65 points against Portland on March 16 and 50 against Minnesota on March 18.

"I just feel like guys are finding me," Bryant said. "It's not like I'm taking difficult shots outside of a couple of them, and I'm in rhythm when I'm taking those.

"To get in a rhythm, I have to get great picks, great looks and great passes. You can't do that without the help of your teammates, particularly because they're sending double and triple teams. It makes it even more important that I get good passes and good screens."

Memphis had won seven of the past 10 against the Lakers and had split two earlier meetings this season. But with Bryant scoring from every spot on the floor, the Grizzlies couldn't keep pace.

Memphis took an 85-80 lead, its biggest of the game, late in the third quarter after consecutive 3-pointers by Mike Miller. But the Lakers battled back behind Bryant, who scored nine straight points during a 90-second stretch to put Los Angeles up 95-93. The Lakers never trailed again.

Bryant had 24 points at the half and 43 after three quarters against the Grizzlies.

"When he gets going like that there's not a whole lot you can do," Miller said. "That's why Kobe is who he is. He doesn't get tired. He's in great shape. He's got his foot on the accelerator the whole game."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Bryant's aggressive nature was evident throughout the game.

"At one point, we got the offensive rebound and (had) a whole new 24-second (shot clock) left," Jackson said. "Lamar (Odom) gave the ball right back to him and Kobe went right back at them. He just smells blood in the water and he's going to go after you."

Pau Gasol led Memphis with 35 points and 15 rebounds. Miller added 33 points and seven assists.

Odom was one of only two other Lakers to reach double figures. He finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds, but spent the postgame talking about Bryant's feat.

"It's a blessing to be on the court with him," Odom said.

The Lakers grabbed a 34-25 lead in the first quarter behind Bryant, who had 13 points.

Memphis fought back to tie the game at 53 in the final minutes of the second quarter as Gasol, Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick combined for 14 points during a 14-6 Grizzlies run.

Game notes
Gasol extended his streak of having at least one block to 28 straight games... With the University of Memphis playing in the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament in San Antonio, the Grizzlies public address announcer gave periodic updates and the overhead video board showed stretches of the NCAA game. In the second half, the NCAA game was shown in its closing minutes before officials asked that it not be shown because the crowd's reaction was distracting play on the court.