Kobe Byrant, better than Jordan
Kobe Bryant is playing his best basketball of the season, and it's an obvious coincidence that the Los Angeles Lakers are peaking, too.
Bryant scored 42 points Tuesday night despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter as the Lakers defeated the overmatched Denver Nuggets 121-93 for their season-high sixth straight win.
Bryant has scored 40 or more points 10 times this season. The last Laker to accomplish such a feat was Hall of Famer Jerry West, who scored 40 or more 13 times during the 1969-70 season.
Shaquille O'Neal added 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Samaki Walker had 14 points as the Lakers (25-23) moved a season-high two games over .500. O'Neal also sat out the fourth quarter.
The three-time defending champions have won 14 of 18 games to move within a half-game of Houston in the race for the final Western Conference playoff berth. The Lakers can overtake the Rockets as soon as Wednesday if they can beat Denver on the road - combined with a loss by Houston at Utah.
Bryant has scored at least 35 in each game of the winning streak.
"Sometimes the one does it, sometimes the two does it. Right now, the one's doing it and I'm chilling out. It's all good," O'Neal said.
" I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."