Wednesday , Feb , 25 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Kobe again returns to court in Colorado

(Sports Network) – Kobe Bryant makes his second basketball-related trip to
Colorado this evening when the Los Angeles Lakers try to extend their winning
streak to five games against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.

Tonight’s contest will be Bryant’s second game in Denver since being charged
with sexual assault by a 19-year-old hotel employee last summer in Eagle,
Colorado.

In his first contest there back on January 7, Bryant was booed unmercifully by
a Nuggets-record crowd of 19,739.

Bryant, who maintains the sex was consensual, has yet to enter a plea and is
free on $25,000 bond. If convicted, he faces four years to life in prison or
20 years to life on probation.

On Sunday, Bryant scored 16 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter to lead the
Lakers to a 104-92 victory over the Phoenix Suns at America West Arena. The
win improved Los Angeles to 18-2 on the year when it scores at least 100
points.

Bryant was 15-of-25 from the field for his second 40-point performance of the
season. Gary Payton added 20 points and Shaquille O’Neal scored 19 for the
Lakers, who have won six of their last seven games.

The 25-year-old Bryant has been on fire since the All-Star break and has been
the main catalyst behind LA’s most recent tear. In his four games since the
break, he has averaged 33.5 points, 7.5 assists, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and
is shooting 60-percent from the floor and on Monday was named Western
Conference Player of the Week.

O’Neal has also raised his game of late and is averaging 23.5 points on 67-
percent shooting, 11.3 boards and 2.75 blocks over the last four games.

The Lakers, who have won eight of their 11 games played on Wednesdays this
season, have won four of their last five and seven of their last 10 on the
road and are 13-15 away from home on the season.

Denver, meanwhile, will be trying to avoid its season-high fourth straight
loss tonight when it returns home after a winless three-game road trip that
culminated with a 109-106 setback on Monday to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Rookie sensation Carmelo Anthony posted game highs with 26 points and 14
rebounds for the Nuggets, who have dropped five of their last eight.

Anthony, who has netted 20 or more points in 10 of his last 11 contests is on
the verge of a milestone and needs 28 points to reach second on the Nuggets’
rookie season scoring list. With 1,150 points this year, the 19-year-old
forward is behind only Dikembe Mutombo (1,177 in the 1991-92 season) and
LaPhonso Ellis, who set the Denver rookie record of 1,205 points in the
1992-93 season.

Denver, which is 8-2 in Wednesday games this season, has won four in a row and
six of seven at home and is 21-8 in the Rockies this season.

The Lakers have defeated the Nuggets in two of the three matchups this season
and have won six of the last seven matchups. LA has also won 10 of the last 12
and 14 of the last 18 meetings, including five of the last eight in Denver.

DEN LAL