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Lakers break loose, 122-96

first_img“I spoke to Kobe before the game and said, `Don’t wait to get going in this game. Let’s go at them right away,”‘ Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “He carried the staff, so to speak, tonight.” “He gave me the marching orders and I carried them out,” Bryant said of Jackson. “We fell behind the eight ball tonight and needed kind of a kick start, and I was able to provide that.” There was a trickle-down effect from Bryant to the last man in uniform. All 11 players scored – including seldom-used guards Shammond Williams and Aaron McKie – and the Lakers held Boston to 66 points in the final three quarters. Williams finished with six points and four assists and played 20 minutes. He joked on his way to a television interview afterward, “I’m still the same dude from two weeks ago,” and later quipped that “the ball felt like a foreign object” after playing so little. • Photo Gallery: 02/23: Lakers vs. Celtics LOS ANGELES – Before he left Staples Center after Wednesday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Kobe Bryant offered his exit strategy for the Lakers’ six-game losing streak, saying, “You have to try to will yourself out of the stretch.” It fell to Bryant to provide that will Friday night as the Lakers broke through for their first victory since Feb. 5, beating the Boston Celtics 122-96. The Lakers led by as many as 26 points in the third quarter against a Celtics team that has lost 21 of 22. Bryant finished with 38 points – 22 of which came in a spectacular first quarter – connected on 5 of 7 3-pointers, found his teammates for nine assists, and matched a season-high with five steals while playing only 31 minutes in the blowout. center_img Jackson brought out his binoculars to find both Williams and McKie at the end of the bench. He brought Williams in with two minutes left in the first quarter and started the second quarter with McKie and Williams in the backcourt and Bryant on the bench. Where he normally would play Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic, Jackson opted for the veterans instead of the kids Friday. McKie had appeared in only one other game this season and was most valued as an expiring contract heading into the trade deadline. “I told the young players that they’ve had an opportunity during the course of the year to advance,” Jackson said, “and right now for the sake of the team we need to have some of the veterans in there to do the things they know how to do because they’ve been on winning teams. “Right now, that’s what we’re after. We’ve tried to develop players and bring them along and now it’s time to use the moxie that’s necessary as veterans to win it.” Williams hit his first jumper after checking in, then another to open the second quarter, and the Lakers wound up building a 13-point lead. In talking to reporters afterward, Williams thanked Jackson several times for giving him the chance to help the team. Jackson stressed the need during the losing streak to “play for one another.” Bryant said Williams and McKie could serve as examples for the Lakers’ younger players. “All season long, they haven’t complained, they haven’t whined,” Bryant said. “They’ve just worked hard every single day. First ones at practice, last ones to leave sort of thing. … Their number got called tonight and they performed extremely well.” After the Celtics opened an 11-2 lead to start the game, Bryant took over the rest of the first quarter. He connected on four 3-pointers and scored 22 points, including 13 consecutive, in what Jackson described as “attack mode.” The Lakers didn’t break open the game, though, until the end of the first half when they scored the last nine points to head into the locker room with a 65-54 lead. “We have to be more aggressive,” Bryant said. “We’re a team that gets their hands on balls and gets out in the passing lanes and knocks the ball loose. That’s what we have to do.” [email protected] (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img