Not only were the LAKERS defeated by New Orleans (105-116) Jan. 6, forward Lamar Odom suffered a bone bruise in his right knee during the second quarter. Odom was averaging 8.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game and currently joins Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar on the injured list.

The Hornets, who sit at No. 2 behind the Lakers in the west (at 22-11), brought the squad’s 15-game home winning streak to an end with solid defense and a phenomenal performance from forward David West. Despite a third quarter scoring burst by Bryant, his team was no match for the Hornets in the fourth.

The Lakers bounced back the next day, though, with a trip up north to defeat the Warriors 114-106. And they were able to avenge their Dec. 2 loss to the Pacers with a 121-119 win at Staples on Friday.

The entire team was hot against the Heat on Sunday, a highly anticipated match up between Bryant and the league’s leading scorer, Dwyane Wade. Bryant lost the individual battle with 19 points to Wade’s 27, but the Lakers came away with a thrilling 108-105 victory.

Center Andrew Bynum scored a season-high 24 points, Pau Gasol put up 14 and matched a career-high with 18 rebounds and Derek Fisher contributed 13 points and a season-high 11 assists. Josh Powell came off the bench for his best game with the Lakers thus far. Powell took advantage of the minutes he got due to other players’ injuries, tallying eight points, five rebounds and a blocked shot in 19 minutes.

With this win the Lakers became the first team in the west to win 30 games; they did it with only six losses.

This week the Lakers come up against some tough competition. They head to San Antonio (24-12) Jan. 14 then face Orlando (30-8) Jan. 16 and Cleveland (29-6) Jan. 19 at home.

The CLIPPERS wrapped up another disappointing week of games with a 103-109 loss to the Suns on Sunday. They put up a respectable fight and the score was tied at 100 with 2:53 minutes left in the fourth. But the Clippers’ offense could not connect, and Phoenix was able to pull away.

The Clippers have not had a win since beating the Pacers Dec. 19 in Indiana.

Their upcoming games this week are Jan. 14 vs. Atlanta (22-14), Jan. 17 vs. Milwaukee (18-21) and Jan. 19 vs. Minnesota (11-25).


Team: Lakers, No. 24; Position: Guard: Years Pro: 12

OK, we know he was last column’s POTW, but Bryant had an undeniably consistent, outstanding week. With several of his teammates out due to injuries, he stepped up and delivered. Coming in at No. 3 in the league’s scoring leaders, it was his game-winning turnaround fade away shot in the final seconds against the Pacers Jan. 9 that sealed the deal.

All stats as of Jan. 12.