Ailing Kobe Too Good For Hurting Wolves

Wednesday, December 5th 2007, 6:49 am
By: News On 6

An ailing Kobe Bryant was still good enough against the banged-up Minnesota Timberwolves.

Bryant shook off the same stomach flu that sent teammate Andrew Bynum to the hospital, scoring 13 of his 20 points in the first quarter to set the tone in the Los Angeles Lakers' 116-95 victory on Tuesday night.

``How are you going to tell if he's got the flu?'' acting Wolves coach Jerry Sichting said. ``He's a lot like Jordan. It doesn't matter with guys like that. He made ME sick.''

Bryant spent the day in his hotel room, unable to keep any food or fluids down for most of the afternoon. But he refused hospital treatment leading up to a game he knew his team had to win.

``It's tough, but as the leader of this ball club you have to come out and play through that,'' Bryant said. ``Set the tone early, and I was able to do that.''

Two other top scorers couldn't. LeBron James missed his third straight game, and Cleveland was routed 100-79 by New Jersey. Sacramento's Kevin Martin strained his right groin and is expect to miss four to six weeks, but the Kings recovered to beat Utah 117-107.

In other games, it was: Detroit 106, Atlanta 95; Phoenix 121, Indiana 117; and Milwaukee 87, the Los Angeles Clippers 78.

Bryant appeared to be a little less explosive than his usual self, until he threw down a 360-degree dunk off a fast break late in the second quarter. He also had five assists, helping the Lakers snap a two-game losing streak despite playing without Ronny Turiaf (concussion), Kwame Brown (ankle) and Bynum.

``I made a point to come out and be really aggressive. Kind of set the tone a little bit,'' Bryant said. ``I kind of let my teammates know that this is a game we have to get. No matter if we're short-handed or not, we have to come out here and take care of business.''

Al Jefferson had 12 points and 12 rebounds, but shot just 5-for-14 from the field. The Timberwolves have lost their past three games by a combined 65 points and are an NBA-worst 2-14.

The Timberwolves have been banged up all season, which certainly hasn't helped matters in what already was expected to be a difficult year after Kevin Garnett was dealt to Boston. Randy Foye (knee) and Theo Ratliff (knee) have been out for weeks, while Rashad McCants (knee) and Mark Madsen (shoulder) have recently returned from injuries.

Marko Jaric missed the game with a foot injury, leaving the Wolves with Sebastian Telfair as the only healthy point guard.

Even their coach hasn't been able to stay healthy. Randy Wittman missed the game and will be out indefinitely when he undergoes back surgery on Wednesday. Sichting will fill in until Wittman returns, though the team has not said when that will be.

``It seems like when it rains it pours,'' forward Antoine Walker said. ``Anything that could possibly go wrong has.''

Nets 100, Cavaliers 79

Richard Jefferson scored a season-high 36 points, Vince Carter added 19 and visiting New Jersey took advantage of LeBron James' absence.

Jason Kidd didn't even play the fourth quarter, finishing his night early with seven points, six assists and 10 rebounds.

Cleveland looked lost on both ends of the court without James, who missed his third straight game because of a sprained left index finger. The Cavaliers have lost four straight and are 0-3 without their superstar forward, falling to 9-10.

Kings 117, Jazz 107

John Salmons took over the scoring load after Sacramento leading scorer Kevin Martin went down with an injury, scoring 13 straight points in one stretch.

Martin scored 25 points before leaving the game in the final minute of the third quarter with a pulled groin. He is expected to miss four to six weeks.

Salmons finished with 21 points and Ron Artest scored eight of his 23 in the fourth quarter to help Sacramento improve to 3-1 on its five-game homestand, with wins over San Antonio, Houston and Utah.

Deron Williams scored 30 points and Carlos Boozer added 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz.

Suns 121, Pacers 117

Amare Stoudemire scored 42 points, and Steve Nash had 18 points and 17 assists to lead visiting Phoenix.

Stoudemire shot 15-for-24 from the field and 12-for-13 from the free-throw line. He also had 13 rebounds. Shawn Marion added 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Suns (14-4), who have won three straight.

Jermaine O'Neal scored a season-high 30 points on 14-for-20 shooting for the Pacers (9-10). Mike Dunleavy scored 22 points and Jamaal Tinsley had 19 points and 12 assists.

Pistons 106, Hawks 95

Detroit scored 22 of the first 31 points in the third quarter to break open a close game en route to its fourth straight victory.

Tayshaun Prince led the Pistons with 23 points. Atlanta native and former University of Georgia star Jarvis Hayes had 17 points in 17 minutes. Richard Hamilton had 14 and Jason Maxiell added 13.

Josh Childress scored 18 points for the hosts, who were outscored 30-13 in the third quarter. Joe Johnson had five points, almost 17 below his average of 21.7.

Bucks 87, Clippers 78

Michael Redd scored 10 of his 25 points in the final 3:36, Andrew Bogut had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Milwaukee rallied from a 15-point deficit to hand the Clippers their sixth straight loss.

The visiting Bucks snapped a four-game losing streak.

Corey Maggette scored 20 points and Chris Kaman added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who were buried by a 14-4 run down the stretch.