Balanced Lakers top Hawks without BryantDec 9, 2006 - 6:15 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- With superstar Kobe Bryant sidelined, the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers had career nights.
Luke Walton scored a career-high 25 points and Maurice Evans added a career-best 22 as the Lakers used a free-flowing, balanced attack to post a 106-95 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Rookie Jordan Farmar had a season-high 15 points and Kwame Brown collected 13 with seven rebounds and a career-high seven assists for Los Angeles, which shot a blistering 56 percent (39-of-70) from the field and dished out 29 assists.
"I think we tried to really focus on being unselfish and really making an extra pass and helping each other out," Farmar said. "Kobe (is) so good, he can make tough plays and sometimes we just end up watching him. When he (is) not there, we play basketball a little bit more and use the triangle as a foundation instead of the end all be all."
After spraining his right ankle Monday against Indiana, Bryant managed 24 points in Wednesday's 105-89 home loss to the New Orleans Hornets. However, he had limited mobility in that game and was not able to get loose for Friday's contest.
"He tried a variety of taping procedures, which made him feel stable, not as good as he wanted to feel to play, so we scratched him late," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said.
However, Walton said the team was comfortable playing without Bryant, as it did while the superstar guard recovered from offseason knee surgery.
"If Kobe had been playing with us the whole preseason and the first couple of games, we wouldn't know what to do," Walton said. "We played the first two games of the year without him, so we knew we could win and we knew we could rely on each other to win, and we didn't have to take stuff on ourselves."
Starting in Bryant's place, Evans was 8-of-14 from the floor and 5-of-7 from the line, including a Bryant-like acrobatic layup that made it 97-84 with 4:32 remaining in the game.
"When I made that shot, I thought of Kobe because he always calls me lucky every time I make a shot," Evans said. "He always calls me lotto so it was pretty funny when it went in. I anticipated the contact and just tried to make sure I got a shot up someway."
Evans also drew the toughest defensive assignment.
"He had the job of chasing around Joe Johnson and that took a lot of energy and he gave us a lot on offense," Walton said. "He knows how to win and he showed it."
Walton was 10-of-13 from the floor, 4-of-4 from the line and collected six assists.
"We knew if we wanted to get a win, it had to be a team effort," Walton said. "We all knew we were going to come out and be more aggressive since Kobe wasn't playing, but at the same time we didn't want to come out and do a lot of 1-on-1 stuff, as opposed to moving the ball and getting everyone involved."
Johnson scored 30 points and Josh Smith added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks, who shot 43 percent (36-of-83).
LA LAKERS 106 FINAL
Dec 9 12:52 AM
LA LAKERS 76 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 9 12:20 AM
LA LAKERS 46 HALFTIME
Dec 8 11:34 PM
LA LAKERS 20 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 8 11:04 PM
- NBA's 6-city tour lets US catch up in 3-on-3 basketball May 21
- Entering Hollywood, Kobe Bryant gets advice from Spielberg May 20
- Point man: Irving shines in Cavs' demolition of Raptors May 18
- Cavs 9-0 in these playoffs, and joining rarefied NBA air May 18
- 76ers win NBA draft lottery, Lakers stay at No. 2, keep pick May 17
- After lots of losing, 76ers hope to win big in NBA lottery May 17
- Jim McMillian, forward on '72 Lakers title team, dead at 68 May 16
- After long overseas career, Nets coach Atkinson back in NY May 16
- Clarification: Stars fuel hope for mid-major prospects May 13
- LeBron says Curry deserves MVP, debates meaning of award May 11
- Stephen Curry is first unanimous NBA MVP, takes honor again May 10
- After fallback season, Hawks look to rise again in East May 9