Kobe Bryant was sick entering Sunday's home game against the Golden State Warriors, but everyone wearing purple and gold at Staples Center felt ill by the time the final buzzer sounded. The Los Angeles Lakers lost 136-115, and even that score was flattering to the Lakers' defensive performance.
The thirty-six-year-old shooting guard played with remarkable aggression and scored 44 points in three quarters of work, but his effort was not matched by his Los Angeles Lakers teammates on either end of the court.
In the first quarter, Bryant led the Lakers with 17 points, but the home team trailed by as many as 19 points. With that, the tone was set early. Bryant would score often, but the Warriors would score twice as often.
At the half, Bryant already had 28 points. He had launched 24 shots at that point, but the Warriors' lead hovered into the 20-point range. When the Lakers walked into the locker room, the final result was hardly in question. The Warriors were on their way to a comfortable victory, and the Lakers were about to mark their 10th game of the season with their ninth night to forget.
After 24 minutes, the Lakers had been unable to find any way to slow down Stephen Curry and the Warriors' offense. Curry had 13 points and nine assists at the intermission, and he would finish with 30 points and 15 assists despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter.
Along with making five three-pointers, the Warriors' point guard put on a passing display that could easily be cut into a coaching segment designed to teach students how to play the position.
"[Curry]'s the best in the NBA right now at that position," after the game, Warriors' coach Steve Kerr said.
Bryant, who put on another individual scoring clinic, continued to target the basket in the third period without truly impacting the outcome of the game. He added another 16 points in the quarter. Unfortunately, his team continued to falter on the defensive end. Outside of Bryant, only Jordan Hill, 15 points, had even reached double figures in scoring.
The Lakers lacked balance offensively and, quite offensively, lacked defense.
After three quarters, both coaches pulled their starters. Bryant had more than half of the Lakers' points when he left the game at the end of the third quarter. He had 44 points on 15-34 shooting, 44 percent, and the other Lakers had 35 points on 12-44 shooting, 27 percent.
Had he played the fourth quarter, which would have been pointless, he would likely have hit a half-century and would have had a crack at a 60-point game. In his 19th season of chasing history with every shot, Bryant was hardly shy when it came to shooting, but the Warriors were hardly bothered by Bryant's scoring.
Lakers' coach Byron Scott threw in the towel with 12 minutes to play, as the Warriors were up by 36 points and had led by as many as 38 points. As has been the case far too often this season, the final score was an afterthought.
The Lakers fell to 1-9 on the season. Next, the team plays in Atlanta on Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Nick Young expects to play his first game of the season, so at least, there is that to look forward to.
Notes: Ryan Kelly only played 5:25 before leaving with a hamstring issue. The second-year forward has been plagued with hamstring issues and has only featured three games this season. Former Lakers' center Shaquille O'Neal was in attendance and sat on the court. Bryant came over and greeted his former teammate before the game and after the game. The Lakers handed out Elgin Baylor jerseys to fans, and the former Lakers' great was honored at halftime.