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Bryant's huge first-quarter outburst helps Lakers end slide

Feb 24, 2007 - 7:44 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Superstar Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers ended their skid in impressive fashion.

Bryant scored 22 of his 38 points in the first quarter as the Lakers snapped their season-high six-game losing streak with a 122-96 triumph over the lowly Boston Celtics.

Andrew Bynum netted 16 points and Smush Parker added 12 for Los Angeles, which had all 11 players record at least one basket to help win its third straight game against Boston.

"We needed that," Bryant said. "To get back on the right track we had to start somewhere so it's nice to get the win."

The win also marked the first season sweep by the Lakers since the 2003-04 campaign. They won the first matchup, 111-98, on January 31 behind Bryant's 43-point performance.

The reigning scoring champion, Bryant connected on 9-of-12 shots in the opening quarter and the Lakers grabbed a 65-54 advantage at intermission.

"Phil (Jackson) told me to be aggressive to start the ball game and need me to assert myself a little bit," Bryant said. "He wanted me to do that and I was able to do it."

Bryant poured in the first seven points of the third quarter as Los Angeles opened on a 10-2 run to push its lead to 75-56 with 9:41 remaining.

"I think Kobe's start carried us over for the rest of the game as far as energy," Lakers forward Ronny Turiaf said. "It was a game where everyone was willing to share the ball. It was a great team effort."

Bryant finished 13-of-23 from the field, including 5-of-7 3-pointers. He also had nine assists and five steals before resting the entire fourth quarter.

"That's a hard task," Boston swingman Gerald Green said about guarding Bryant. "I just tried to stay in front of him, try to contest all his shots and try to defend him the best I could."

Green scored 21 points, Al Jefferson had 18 and eight rebounds and Paul Pierce added 15 points for the Celtics, who fell to a horrific 1-21 record since January 7.

"I thought the effort was horrible for the most part," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "Maybe our guys attended all the Oscars parties."

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