Reminds me of Dale Davis, playing with his shoulder dislocated or was it separated.
lakers 96, pacers 90
Bryant too much for Pacers
Guard scores 45 points to drop Indiana to 4-29 in Los Angeles
By Mark Montieth
January 10, 2006
LOS ANGELES -- The final insult, at the end of an evening full of frustration and folly for the Indiana Pacers, was the worst.
Kobe Bryant drove the lane, threw a shoulder that landed square on Danny Granger's mouth and hit a fading 8-foot shot that broke a tie with 2:48 left. A whistle blew, just one of an endless and sour symphony, and a foul was called.
The Pacers did plenty to self-destruct in their 96-90 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center, but that play summed up the futility of dealing with the NBA's leading scorer.
Bryant is hard enough to guard under normal circumstances. But when he can draw fouls while injuring defenders, it becomes an impossible task.
Bryant scored 45 points against the Pacers, who tried four defenders and about as many strategies against him. It was an ugly 45, as he hit just 14-of-32 field goal attempts and 15-of-21 foul shots, but 45 just the same. He became the first NBA player to string together four games of 45 or more since Wilt Chamberlain did it in November of 1964. He also reached 40 for the 50th time of his career.
"Maybe the best player in the league right now," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's that good."
Great players tend to get breaks from NBA officials, and Bryant appears to have entered the Michael Jordan stratosphere of friendly whistles.
Stephen Jackson started on Bryant, but was called for two fouls in the first 3 1/2 minutes and never found a rhythm. After scoring a season-high 31 points at Sacramento on Sunday, he finished with eight points on 2-of-9 shooting.
Jackson was called for a technical foul in the second quarter, and was limited to 25 minutes by his foul trouble.
Fred Jones took over for Jackson and appeared to provide the toughest challenge for Bryant, but he was called for two fouls in his first six minutes and eventually fouled out. Anthony Johnson and Granger got turns as well.
Some of their fouls appeared to be questionable, but they were careful not to dwell on the issue.
"We didn't play the way we did the last two games, I know that," Jackson said. "We can't comment on the fouls, but we do have control over the way we played. This ain't how we got the last two wins. A lot of stuff was different."
Granger paid the stiffest price for defending Bryant. He had a front tooth knocked out of place while he was being called for his foul. Still in uniform, he paid a postgame visit to the Lakers' team dentist, who gave him three shots to numb the pain and yanked it back into place.
Granger didn't return to the locker room until 2:20 a.m., EST, about an hour after the rest of his teammates had vacated.
"It was the worst pain of my life," he said. "I was squeezing his hands and screaming as loud as I could.
"I could hear it cracking when he pulled (the tooth) back. I think my root cracked."
Granger felt something else, too. Disbelief.
"I got called for the foul!" he said, reliving the play. "I didn't even touch him. He hit me and I got called for the foul. I know he's Kobe Bryant, but . . ."
Bryant shrugged off his accomplishment, and gave credit to the Pacers' defense.
"It was tough tonight," he said. "They are a very physical team and my jumper wasn't really fallingn as fluidly as I would have liked it to. I was just attacking the rim."
The Pacers, who dropped to 18-14 and split their four-game road trip, didn't dwell on Bryant's greatness too long. Complaining about the officiating would only brings fines from the NBA, and they provided plenty of reasons to blame themselves as well.
They shot just 37 percent for the game, and missed eight foul shots in the fourth quarter. Jermaine O'Neal, who led them with 24 points and 16 rebounds, missed all five of his free throw attempts, although only four of them counted officially because a Laker stepped into the lane too soon on one of his attempts. He also hit just 1-of-4 field goal attempts.
O'Neal was played just his second game after sitting out three with pneumonia, but gave himself no excuses.
"We were right there until I coughed the game up," he said. "A player in my position has to be able to deliver.
"There's no excuse. I have to be more efficient from the field and I have to be able to make free throws. If I'm going to be a big-time player, I have to make big-time things happen."
O'Neal's three misses with 1:34 left came with the Lakers protecting a two-point lead. Lamar Odom, the Lakers' only other double-figure scorer with 17 points, followed with a 3-pointer. Bryant and Odom combined to score the Lakers' final six points from the foul line.
Fifty-nine fouls were called, stretching the game to 2 hours, 40-minutes. The Pacers got to the line for 11 more attempts than the Lakers because they worked the ball inside the lane more often, but failed to shoot well enough to take advantage.
"We hung in, competed, and had chances," Carlisle said. "We created a lot of good looks for ourselves, but weren't able to make some of the easiest shots we had on the whole trip."
The Pacers, who are 4-29 against the Lakers in Los Angeles over their NBA history, played without Austin Croshere, who suffered a slight concussion in Sunday's victory at Sacramento. That brought about the Pacers' 15th different starting lineup of the season, with O'Neal and David Harrison starting together for the first time this season.
Former Pacers guard Reggie Miller, who has a home in Malibu, watched the game from a courtside seat near the Lakers' bench.