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Bryant makes history again in Lakers' win

Mar 24, 2007 - 4:31 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant is making NBA history while carrying his team into the playoffs.

Bryant scored 50 points - his fourth straight game with 50 or more - to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 111-105 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.

The superstar guard nailed 16-of-29 field goals and 16-of-16 from the free-throw line to pass Elgin Baylor for first place on the franchise's all-time list with 18 50-point games.

"He really had a (heck) of a game tonight," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said of Bryant. "He came out and started right off the bat.

"It hasn't been a problem with him playing these kind of minutes. So we'll ride him and see how it goes. I think he's got a little bit of incentive left in him, and he'll probably go back after it on Sunday."

The nine-time All-Star is now the only Laker in history to score 50 or more points in four straight games. He is the first player in league history to accomplish the feat since Wilt Chamberlain did it in five straight games in 1962.

"It's a tremendous honor for me to be in the same sentence with those guys," Bryant said. "The coolest thing about it is that this younger generation gets a chance to learn about Baylor, a chance to learn about Chamberlain and some of the things they accomplished so that their legacy will continue to live on."

Bryant scored 65 points a week ago against Portland and followed it up with a 50-point effort against Minnesota the following night before dropping 60 on Memphis on Thursday.

"Just getting in a good groove," Bryant said. "Putting myself in position to see the basket. I am seeing the basket.

"I just go in and try to be aggressive and try to put the other team back on their heels and take some momentum away from the home crowd. I just go in to assert myself."

New Orleans (31-38) held a 59-56 lead early in the third quarter before the Lakers (37-32) went on a 25-6 run over six minutes, capped off by Bryant's 3-pointer to make the score, 81-65, with 4:54 remaining in the period. Bryant scored 15 points during the run.

"We knew Kobe was going to have one of those nights," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "He's just so good. He's such a competitor and he lives in the moment. This is the moment right now with a playoff-type atmosphere, playoff-type basketball. We knew he was going to come out and play like that."

The Hornets pulled back within 92-86 on Jannero Pargo's 3-pointer with 7:07 remaining in the game, but Bryant held them off with six points down the stretch to extend Los Angeles' winning streak to four games.

"Another four-game win streak," Bryant said. "You feel like you're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It feels good to get back on track. Important thing is to keep the momentum going. This was a big trip for us coming in."

Lamar Odom added 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who moved two games ahead of Denver (34-33) for the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

"We really just want to focus on winning our games and playing well," Bryant said. "Where we end up is where we end up."

Chris Paul scored 28 points and Tyson Chandler made some history of his own, scoring 22 points and grabbing 22 rebounds to become the first Hornets player to go for 20 and 20 since Anthony Mason 10 seasons ago.

"I'm feeling really comfortable," Chandler said. "My coaches have got me feeling comfortable, my teammates have faith in me and come to me a lot. Right now, I just feel like these are building blocks. Every night, I try to go out and accomplish something different."

With the loss, the Hornets (31-38) fell 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers (32-36) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Clippers play vs. Utah later Friday night.

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