It was a fun day with plenty of parades, sunshine and good times during Mardi Gras.
The French Quarter was happily rolling toward Fat Tuesday, the locals and tourists ready for a weekend of gumbo, hurricane drinks and everything in between.
Only in a little corner of the city was there a lack of fun. The New Orleans Pelicans weren't really in a celebratory mood Thursday after losing to the Lakers, 99-96.
Thirty-nine points from 22-year-old
Bryant's game was entertaining by itself, so many things happening on a night when he made 10 of 24 shots and took 12 rebounds at Smoothie King Center.
He was dunked on for the first time in forever, too late to stop
But Bryant had his revenge, drilling a long three-pointer and wagging his index finger at Pelicans fans who had heckled him a minute earlier. It came as the shot clock wound down with 58.4 seconds left, giving the Lakers a 98-92 lead.
Bryant had 38 points two days earlier against Minnesota and a strong double-double against New Orleans. Whaaat?
"I'm as puzzled by it as you are," he said, laughing. "I don't know what to tell you. Twenty years and all these injuries, it's tough. I just try to stay with it."
Even when he missed, Bryant was persistent.
He was off on a three-point shot in the first quarter and got the rebound in the corner when it bounced fortuitously back to him. He quickly slipped past the Pelicans' defense for a reverse layup attempt, missed it and took another rebound. He shot again, connecting on a 16-foot turnaround.
Of greater importance, a nimble Bryant burned a lot of time off the clock in the final seconds by dribbling around the top of the three-point line and evading intentional fouls by the Pelicans. He finally went to the free-throw line with 5.9 seconds left. He was short on the first free throw, made the second for a three-point lead, and the game ended on
Bryant's recent run made some of his earlier efforts seem a little further in the past.
He made two of 15 shots against Detroit in December, one of 14 against
"I was drowning, I was all on my own and I had to figure out how to get on top of the water and breathe again," Bryant said.
He had a bad memory here last year, sustaining a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder after a dunk. He was done for the season.
"It felt like I kind of exorcised my demons a little bit [Thursday]," he said. "I was thinking about the last time I was here. I wanted to get back out on this court and play and play well."
Jordan Clarkson made his first seven shots and finished with 18 points for the Lakers (11-41). D'Angelo Russell had 13 points and Julius Randle added 11, but the story was Bryant, once again.
He said the last time he got dunked on was "a long, long time ago by Adonal Foyle." He started ribbing Randle the other day about getting dunked on.
"Then tonight, the basketball gods saw to it that Ryan Anderson dunked on me," Bryant said. "I laughed all the time up the court. I thought the crowd had a good time. So when I hit the three, I added a little to it."
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