December 18 Associated Press:
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Kobe Bryant’s pinky was sore, making it hard for him to shoot the basketball.
“I kind of had to quarterback things a little bit more,” he said.
He could have asked Michael Vick for advice on how to run an offense.
Vick received a reception fit for a rock star and shook the Philadelphia 76ers’ arena like a Game 7 would.
Lamar Odom scored 28 points, Pau Gasol had 19 points and 13 rebounds and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Sixers 93-81 on Friday night.
“This whole place went bananas,” Bryant said of Vick’s arrival.
Trailing when Vick took his courtside seat late in the third quarter, the Lakers rallied and broke the game open in the fourth quarter with a 27-8 run to win their fourth straight game.
“There’s got to be a point in the game where we assert ourselves,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
The season’s second sellout crowd of 20,366 included some of Philadelphia’s top sports stars. Bryant scored only nine points a night after his high school dedicated the gym in his honor.
Bryant sprained the pinky finger on his right hand in the first quarter but still played 36 minutes. After the game, Bryant said he was fine and X-rays were negative.
Matt Barnes had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers—and two assists not found in the box score. He hooked up Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson and Vick with the front row seats.
Philadelphia Phillies Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard also were at the game. Not even the former NL MVPs could steal the thunder from Bryant or Vick.
When Vick walked in late in the third quarter, fans began standing, section by section, as he walked around the court and took his seat.
The crowd chanted “MVP! MVP!” and Vick basked in the adulation, slapping hands with fans and waving to the crowd.
As the “MVP!” chants grew louder, Andre Iguodala nailed a 23-footer for a 57-56 lead and the place went wild.
“You would have thought the president walked in or something,” Barnes said. “Hopefully, they can do me a favor in the playoffs or Super Bowl if we have some time.”
Iguodala hit a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left to send the Sixers into the fourth ahead 62-58.
The fun didn’t last long.
Odom opened the fourth with consecutive three-point plays and Barnes’ 3 gave the Lakers a 71-64 lead.
It wasn’t all feel-good Philly: Jackson tweeted he was “watchn my lake show play the 2nd home town Sixers!!”
Jackson had to feel happy when Odom and Steve Blake hit consecutive 3s for an 81-68 lead and many of the same fans standing and cheering minutes earlier started to head for the exits.
“They stick to Pau and Kobe so much, that if you make a play, you find yourself with a good look,” Odom said.
Spencer Hawes had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Iguodala scored 18 points for the Sixers.
TALKIN BOUT PRACTICE: Sixers blog
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