LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant wasn’t anywhere in sight when the Los Angeles Lakers pulled off one of the most stunning upsets of the NBA season so far.
Carlos Boozer scored 18 points in his new role off the bench, and the Lakers built a 24-point cushion against the league-leading Golden State Warriors and hung on for a 115-105 victory Tuesday night.
Bryant, the NBA’s No. 3 career scorer, sat out for the first time this season to rest his tired legs. The decision made by coach Byron Scott, who had been hinting at it for days.
“Looking at our schedule coming up, I just thought it was a good time to give him a day of rest and let him prepare for the next game,” Scott said. “Kobe told me last night, anyway, ‘Coach, whatever you want me do. Just let me know.’ So he’s on board with it.”
The 36-year-old Bryant is averaging 35.5 minutes through the first 27 games and shooting just 37.2 percent.
“I think this is something that has to happen periodically,” Scott said. “You’ve got to remember — this is 19 years in this league. That’s an unbelievable career. I don’t care how much his mind is willing. You’re not going to be able to play 82 games at the level that he is accustomed to playing. So sometimes, you have to give him days off as well as games off.”
Bryant, who passed Michael Jordan on the career points list Dec. 14 at Minnesota, missed 76 games last season because of a torn Achilles and a fractured left knee. Scott said Bryant would be evaluated before Thursday’s nationally televised Christmas Day game at Chicago.
Wayne Ellington made his first start for the Lakers in Bryant’s place and scored 12 points in 25 minutes, one of seven Lakers in double figures.
“It was a good team win. We just had a lot of energy and it was a lot of fun from the start,” said Nick Young. “From the lockerroom to the court, we felt good. Some guys just played free tonight and did their thing. They had no handcuffs on them.
Stephen Curry had 22 points and six assists for the Warriors, who lost for only the fourth time in 27 games. Klay Thompson had 18 points on 6 for 15 shooting.
Curry was 10 for 14 from the field after averaging 30.3 points and 12.3 assists in his previous three games against the Lakers. Draymond Green made one of six shots in 24 minutes and finished with two points.
The Lakers made only one field goal over the final 5:56, a clutch 3-pointer by Jeremy Lin with 35 seconds to play. The Warriors cut it to 113-105 on Justin Holiday’s 3-pointer with 29 seconds to go, before Ronnie Price helped put it away with a pair of free throws.
“They kicked our (butts). They were much better than we were,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We weren’t ready to play. We started turning the ball over immediately. We never had any energy, which is going to happen occasionally in the NBA with 82 games.”
The Lakers were moving the ball just fine in the first half without Bryant orchestrating the offense. They had 19 assists and got 12 points each from Wesley Johnson and Ed Davis to take a 63-48 lead.
“We just decided to take it upon ourselves and play for one another without our leader,” center Jordan Hill said. “We knew it was going to be a tough fight, but we came out and played hard, played together and moved the ball around.”
Warriors: For the first time this season, the Warriors trailed by double digits after the opening quarter. They fell behind 34-24, giving up nine second-chance points and getting outrebounded 14-5. … Paul Walther, a six-year NBA veteran who played for both the Lakers and Warriors during the 1950s, died Sunday at age 87 in Atlanta.
Lakers: Former Laker Vlade Divac sank a midcourt shot to win $90,000 for charity, with the proceeds going to the Divac Childrens’ Foundation and the Lakers’ Youth Foundation. Divac shot 23.5 percent behind the 3-point line in his career (100 for 426). … Tuesday marked exactly seven years since Bryant became the youngest player to reach the 20,000-point mark during a game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden (29 years, 122 days). … Hill and Johnson are now the only Lakers who have started all 28 games.
Warriors: At Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.
Lakers: At Chicago on Thursday.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.