LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant scored 41 points while becoming the youngest player to reach 24,000, leading the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers to a 114-98 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.
Ron Artest had 19 points and seven assists in the fourth straight win for the defending NBA champions, who played without injured big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
Lamar Odom managed just three points before fouling out on his 30th birthday, but Bryant carried the Lakers while reaching his latest scoring milestone 38 days before Wilt Chamberlain did. With a second-half surge, he even overtook Grizzlies guard Allen Iverson for 16th place on the NBA's career scoring list.
Iverson had eight points in 22 minutes coming off the bench in his third game with Memphis. Before the game, the 10-time All-Star said he didn't fully understand the controversy over several barbed comments he made earlier in the Grizzlies' road trip when he said he didn't want to come off the bench or be part of a rebuilding team.
Rudy Gay scored 22 points — just two in the fourth quarter — and Zach Randolph had 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who are winless on a four-game road trip that ends Saturday night against the Clippers.
The Lakers opened a stretch with 14 of 16 games at home by beating Memphis for the fifth straight time overall and the fifth in a row at Staples Center.
Before punctuating his night with two beautiful fallaway jumpers in the final two minutes, Bryant became the 17th NBA player to scored 24,000 points on a second-quarter basket. At 31 years, 75 days old, Bryant needed every bit of his head start from skipping college to beat Chamberlain to the mark.
Bryant scored exactly 41 points for the third time in four games, giving him 99 career 40-point games. Bryant scored 15 points in the third quarter while the Lakers turned a halftime deficit into a 12-point lead, and he added 10 in the final period while the healthy Lakers held on.
*Story via Associated Press*