Lakers maintain fierce form
Kobe Bryant became the sixth-highest point scorer in the NBA as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks 101-87 and recorded their eighth successive win.
Bryant made a free throw late in the first half to notch the 13th point he needed to move past Hall of Fame player Moses Malone and into sixth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list before he finished with 26 points and on 27,423 for his career.
The All-Star guard was aided by Andrew Bynum, who had another strong performance inside with 16 points and 16 rebounds, and Pau Gasol's 14 points and 11 rebounds, as the Lakers look to have rediscovered their top form and like the team that won the last two NBA titles.
"We're just better. We're locked in and everyone is a little moody right now, a little on edge and it's a good thing," Bryant said.
Following a three-game losing streak just before the All-Star break, Los Angeles (46-19) have rediscovered top form and had some impressive performances including Sunday's 99-83 rout of the NBA-best San Antonio Spurs.
The Lakers opened up a 22-point lead over Atlanta in the third quarter then put the game away after the home team cut the deficit to eight.
Al Horford finished with 17 points and nine rebounds and Josh Smith added 16 points for the Hawks (37-27) who lost their third in a row. Atlanta managed just under 40 percent shooting from the field and trailed for most of the game.
The loss dropped the fifth-place Hawks three games behind the Orlando Magic for fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Los Angeles, however, matched their season-opening winning sequence when the team started the campaign 8-0 and the latest run has been aided by the inside play of Bynum who has collected 50 rebounds in his last three games.
"He's pursuing the ball," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of Bynum's post play.
"His hand strength and arm strength are dominant enough that even when challenged on rebounds he comes away with them."