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Bryant (48) Lets It Fly

Times Staff Writer

Laker Coach Phil Jackson can exhale, or ruminate, or whatever it is that he does, until the next five-game Laker losing streak comes around, whenever that day may come again.

Jackson had never lost six consecutive games in his 15-year coaching career, and still hadn’t after the Lakers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 119-93, Friday at Staples Center.

It helped that Kobe Bryant was back from a two-game suspension for a flagrant foul, and it didn’t hurt that Smush Parker had the highest-scoring game of his career, and by the time both their points had been added, the Lakers had won for the first time since Dec. 23 in Orlando.

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Bryant had 48 points on 19-for-29 shooting, Parker had a career-high 24 points on nine-for-10 shooting, and the Lakers showed little sympathy for the 76ers, who limped into town for the final game of a seven-game trip, their longest of the season.

When Bryant left with 3:49 to play, he had set a team record for three-pointers made without a miss and had decidedly gotten the best of Allen Iverson, who entered as the league’s top scorer and had 31 points and seven assists, but no victory.

Bryant made all seven of his attempts from behind the arc, topping Nick Van Exel’s six-for-six effort against Vancouver in a November 1997 game.

“I was just letting them fly,” said Bryant, who took the scoring lead from Iverson with an average of 33.2 points a game. “You know I don’t leave any bullets in the chamber.”

Bryant had 18 points in the third quarter, making seven of nine shots and evoking for a brief moment his 62-point performance against Dallas, in which he had 30 points in the third quarter.

When the third quarter ended Friday, Bryant had 42 points, Parker had 21 and the 76ers had only 75, 19 fewer than the Lakers.

Any thoughts of Jackson losing again had been deep-sixed.

“I didn’t want it to be this team that lost six in a row,” Bryant said. “He’s too good of a coach for that.”

Said Jackson: “It’s been a couple of weeks since we got a win, almost to the day. If we can ride this for a while, great.”

Before the game, Jackson said he would probably not pay to see a showdown between the league’s top two scorers because, in his words, “I’m more of a guy that likes team basketball rather than coming to watch an individual play.”

Afterward, when it became that much more obvious how much the Lakers missed Bryant during four-point and 10-point losses to Utah, Jackson had kind words for an individual.

“His shooting was terrific,” he said.

Bryant was strong, and Lamar Odom was solid, finishing with eight points, seven rebounds and a career-high 12 assists.

Parker, whose contract does not become guaranteed until Tuesday, had 15 points in the first quarter as the Lakers took a 37-22 lead.

A free-agent signee who bounced around Europe and the Development League last season, Parker will have officially earned his first full season with the same team on the league-mandated date for all non-guaranteed contracts to become guaranteed.

“I’m pretty sure I’ve got that locked in the bag,” Parker said. “But I don’t want to take it for granted. I’m going to stay humble, stay hungry.”

Parker, who has started all 32 games, made all five of his three-point attempts, meaning the Laker backcourt made all 12 of its attempts from behind the arc.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Jackson said. “That’s pretty impressive.”

Perhaps it was merely a coincidence, but Bryant ditched the leggings he had worn throughout the season. He had tendinitis in his right knee and had to wear a brace.

“You’re looking at my legs too much,” Bryant said, smiling. “You’ve got serious problems.”


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