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 Bryant scores 32 in Lakers' win over 76ers

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PostSubject: Bryant scores 32 in Lakers' win over 76ers   Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:56 pm

PHILADELPHIA(AP) Kobe Bryant heard some
different sounds from the hometown crowd during his usual mix of
rally-killing 3-pointers and straight-to-YouTube baskets.Long reviled in Philadelphia, Bryant heard some cheers, even some "MVP!'' chants this time around.Winning a game and winning over fans made it a good night for Bryant.Bryant
tormented his hometown team again, scoring 32 points to help the Los
Angeles Lakers rebound from a last-second loss with a 114-102 victory
over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night."It's fun when you can bring fans into the game,'' Bryant said. "There were a lot of Lower Merion alumni here. We're deep.''Lakers
coach Phil Jackson said before the game that the thrill of playing in
his home city has worn off for Bryant, but the reigning MVP appeared to
enjoy every big 3 that pushed back the Sixers. He had the lopsided edge
in a late, 1-on-1 battle with Andre Iguodala and gave Los Angeles a
needed pick-me-up.The Lakers improved to 15-2 one night after
they lost in Indiana on a late tip. Bryant was 12-for-20 from the floor
and sank all seven free throws."If Kobe shoots the ball that
well, we're going to have a good winning percentage because he's going
to take most of the shots,'' Jackson said.Pau Gasol had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Andrew Bynum scored 18 points for the Lakers.Los
Angeles never let the middling Sixers get too close in this one.
Philadelphia was within six in the third quarter when Derek Fisher and
Bryant nailed 3-pointers that ballooned the lead to double digits."We
have all the confidence in the world,'' Bryant said. "The key is
defense. We've got to hold the other team down when it counts.''Andre
Miller scored 26 points and Iguodala had 19 for the Sixers, who played
the entire fourth quarter and the last 4:50 of the third without Elton
Brand.The Sixers said Brand had a strained right hamstring - one
reason he was limited to three points on 1-for-7 shooting in 25
ineffective minutes. Brand will be evaluated on Thursday.A Sixers spokesman said Brand didn't inform the team of the injury until midway through the fourth."I
think he's a little bit sore,'' Miller said. "It's tough on the
back-to-back with the injury he's been through. We'll see how he is.''The
wildly inconsistent Sixers hoped to get their groove back after a
103-95 overtime win at Chicago on Tuesday. Again, they couldn't get
Iguodala, Miller and Brand going offensively at the same time. They
lost for the fifth time in six games and haven't won consecutive games
since Nov. 21-23.Team president Ed Stefanski said before the
game he wasn't shocked the Sixers are having trouble adjusting to new
roles that came with Brand's free-agent arrival.Stefanski said
he's always looking at ways to make the Sixers better. While it's not
necessarily time for major moves yet, they might not be far off if the
Sixers continue to plod along in the East."You'll never hear
patience come out of my mouth,'' Stefanski said, laughing. "I'm one of
the fans. I know how they are. I'm not going to use that word.''Brand
was signed to an $80 million deal to deliver big games against teams
like the Lakers. The Sixers can't afford a serious injury to Brand if
they want to make a move in the East.With Brand on the bench,
guard Lou Williams tried to rally the Sixers in the fourth. He scored
all 15 of his points in the quarter and made three 3s, including two
straight that pulled Philadelphia to 101-91.Hearing some faint
chants of "MVP!'' mixed in with the usual Philly boos, Bryant sank a
pair of free throws at the 2-minute mark that gave the Lakers a 108-97
lead, then followed with a spinning, right-handed layup that put the
game away. Just for fun, he drilled a 3 the next time down and appeared
to stare at Philly's bench.With less than a minute left,
Iguodala decided to guard Bryant as though Game 7 of a playoff series
was tied. Bryant was called for a push-off foul, and what was left of
the crowd howled at the late-game theatrics."Andre took a
challenge with guarding Kobe,'' 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks said.
"Nobody can shut down Kobe. (Bryant) controls the game the way he likes
to, posting shots and getting to the rim.''Notes: Phillies SS
Jimmy Rollins was at the game. ... The Lakers have won five of six
against the Sixers. ... The Lakers made more free throws (22) than the
Sixers attempted (20). ... Bryant scored only 34 points in two games
vs. Philadelphia last season.

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