Kobe Bryant Drops 40 on the Utah Jazz

Ryan WardCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2009

Although Kobe Bryant's numbers are down, especially in the scoring category, that doesn't mean he can't drop 30, 35, or 40 on a good team on any given night.

The reason Kobe hasn't had huge scoring nights like he has been known to do in the past is because he now has the best team in the NBA and no longer has to carry the scoring load. Thing is, sometimes he just catches fire regardless if he needs to or not, and that is exactly what he did against the Utah Jazz.

Although Kobe will probably be the only player remembered for this game after scoring 40 points, it was Trevor Ariza that really stole the show by displaying the defensive ability that he has become known for. With a game high five steals, two of which came in the final two and half minutes, Ariza took all the wind out of the Jazz’s sails as they tried to rally back from behind, but they couldn't get it together as the Lakers took them down 113-100 for their fifth straight victory in a row.

This is starting to become a pleasant trend with Ariza, so much so that he might get some attention for defensive player of the year if he keeps coming through on defense. Ariza finished the game with some impressive stats for a bench player with 12 points, nine rebounds, and five steals.
Along with Kobe hitting 40, and Ariza ripping five steals from the Jazz, Pau Gasol hit a milestone by scoring 21 points and receiving the 10,000 point mark for his career (10,001 to be exact) he also lead the team in rebounds with 11, and assists with six.

As for the Jazz, Paul Millsap has done a great job filling in for Carlos Boozer, especially on the glass. Millsap had a game-high 17 boards to go along with 16 points, two blocks and two steals.

Deron Williams on the other hand had a night to forget, he did dish out 12 assists, but he couldn't hit a shot to save his life as he went 4-18 from the field. Besides Millsap, Mehmet Okur was the Jazz’s top scorer with 21 points, and he also managed to grab 13 boards.

Ever since getting a little revenge against the Boston Celtics on Christmas day, the Lakers have been smokin' hot looking seemingly untouchable, but they will be tested in January as they face some tough teams, three of which have already beaten the Lakers once this season (Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and Indiana Pacers).

NEXT LAKERS GAME: Portland Trailblazers @ Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, Jan. 4th 6:30pm PST