Thursday , Mar , 09 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Bryant, Lakers give Hornets rude welcome home

New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) – Kobe Bryant spoiled the Hornets’ return to
New Orleans, as he recorded 40 points in a 113-107 win for the Los Angeles
Lakers at New Orleans Arena.

Bryant shot 12-of-33 from the floor and hit 14-of-16 free throws for the
Lakers, who have won three of four.

Lamar Odom added 18 points and 17 boards while Smush Parker had 16 points and
seven assists for Los Angeles, which used a late run to pull away from its
opponent.

David West had 25 points and Chris Paul had 22 along with 10 assists for the
Hornets, who played in front of a sellout crowd in their first game in New
Orleans since the effects of Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city.

“It was good energy out there,” said West of the return. “They were into it,
and we were feeding off of them. We were happy to get out there and give them
some entertainment, even if it’s just one night.”

Speedy Claxton also had 22 points for New Orleans, which has been playing the
majority of its home games in Oklahoma City while the city and arena recover.

After Claxton extended the Hornets’ lead to 93-88 with a basket with seven
minutes remaining, the Lakers responded with a 9-0 spurt to go ahead. Bryant
scored the final six points of the surge, staking his club to a 97-93 lead.

New Orleans responded with four straight points to tie the game with three
minutes left, but that was just about it from the Hornets.

Bryant hit a three-pointer with 2 1/2 minutes to go and the Hornets only got
within one point the rest of the way.

Ahead 102-101 with just over 1 1/2 minutes on the clock, the Lakers scored
eight straight points to put the game away. Bryant’s bucket with 1:22 on the
clock extended the lead to 104-101 and Odom followed with a dunk. Free throws
dominated play for Los Angeles the rest of the way.

“It was a big game for both teams,” said Bryant. “We were fortuante enough to
get a victory and put ourselves in a pretty good situation. We need to carry
on from this as a team and continue to do positive things.”

Desmond Mason ended with 15 points and Aaron Williams had 10 for the
Hornets, who trailed 28-24 after one quarter and 58-52 going into halftime.

New Orleans rallied to go into the fourth down 81-80.

Game Notes

Sasha Vujacic had 10 points for the Lakers…LA improved to 15-18 on the road
this season…The Hornets fell to 19-11 when playing as the home team…Bryant
has scored at least 35 points in five straight outings…The season series
between these two clubs is tied 1-1. The Hornets downed Los Angeles 106-90 in
Oklahoma City on February 4.

LAL NOH