Thursday , Apr , 20 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Lakers wrap up seventh spot with win over Hornets

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Kobe Bryant capped a remarkable regular
season with a 35-point performance, as the Los Angeles Lakers secured the
seventh spot in the Western Conference playoffs with a 115-95 victory over New
Orleans/Oklahoma City at Staples Center.

Kwame Brown contributed 19 points and eight rebounds while Brian Cook added 12
points in Los Angeles’ fifth straight victory. Smush Parker and Devean George
donated 10 points apiece in a winning effort.

“I think we are playing relatively good basketball,” Lakers head coach Phil
Jackson said. “Tonight we were quick to the ball and did a good job on

The seventh-seeded Lakers will head to the Valley of the Sun to begin their
first-round playoff series against the second-seeded Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

“We’re playing good basketball, but the playoffs are all about
preparation,” said Bryant. “We’re just going to go out there and play.”

P.J. Brown led the Hornets with 16 points while Marc Jackson posted a double-
double with 15 points and 13 rebounds in the club’s fourth straight setback.

Moochie Norris added 13 points and Desmond Mason sprang for 12 points in
defeat, the Hornets fourth straight on the road versus the Lakers.

The Lakers ended the first period on a 16-4 burst to take a 32-20 advantage.
Cook and Brown combined for the first 10 Laker points and Bryant’s three with
eight ticks left in the first quarter opened the 12-point edge.

The run was just a sign of the domination to come, as Los Angeles reeled off a
16-2 run to pull ahead 48-24. George tallied the first four points of the run
and Bryant brought the Staples Center to its feet with back-to-back threes to
cap the flurry with six minutes remaining.

The Hornets then ripped off seven straight points, but the Lakers eventually
opened a 30-point lead before halftime. A 15-2 run was triggered by Bryant,
who scored the Lakers final 13 points during the stretch. He started the solo
offensive show with a three-point play and capped it with a jumper to make the
score 65-35.

The lead grew to 36 points during the third stanza. Brown converted two
straight layups with just under five minutes remaining, then after a Mason
layup, Bryant drained two free throws and buried two jumpers. His second mid-
range basket made the score 91-55 with 2:36 on the clock.

New Orleans/Oklahoma City made the score more respectable during the fourth
stanza, outscoring the Lakers 32-21 in the period.

Game Notes

The Lakers connected on 11-of-27 from beyond the arc…Bryant made 13-of-26
from the floor…The Lakers won 10 of their last 11 games at home and finished
27-14 at the Staples Center…The Hornets finished 14-27 on the road.