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Kobe becomes all-time leading Lakers scorer but LA fall at Memphis

When Kobe Bryant runs onto the floor in Istanbul with Team USA later this year at the FIBA World Championship, he’ll do so as the all-time leading scorer of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The four-time NBA champion surpassed Lakers great Jerry West on Monday with a 44-point night at Memphis but the much-improved Grizz ruined LA’s celebrations with a 95-93 win.

Despite his team’s defeat, most of the talk after the game centered on Bryant’s achievement.

He now has 25,208 points while West has 25,192.

Bryant spoke with humility when asked about the record.

“It’s a great honor to say the least (because) of the great players that have played here and the tradition we have,” Bryant said.

As for West, he said: “(He) taught me so much when I was 17 years old. He showed me a lot about the game, the jump shot and spin moves and all the others.

“Even though it’s me passing him in the record books, it’s still us, and it’s still Magic (Johnson) and all the other great players.”

West, the former Lakers chief who traded for Bryant back in 1996 when he was selected by the Charlotte Hornets when he was just 17 years old, was asked about Bryant now owning the record.

“I’m delighted it’s him and not someone else,” West said in a television interview with ESPN.

“He was so gifted as a kid, he just needed to tune his game down a little bit, to understand the nuances of the game and not go too fast.

“I’ve seen so many games, but he’s one player that I would pay to see to play every night.”

West, known as ‘Mr Clutch’ during his playing days, said there is no one better in the league today when the game is on the line than Bryant.

“He’s the best late-game shooter in the NBA today,” West said.

“He’s not afraid and in fact, he almost demands the ball.”

As for Monday’s game, the Grizz provided further evidence that they are for real by beating the defending NBA champions.

Rudy Gay, who had a team-high 25 points, hit what turned out to be the game-winning three-ball with 29.5 seconds to go for Memphis.

“I was open and Marc (Gasol) gave me a good pass, and I made the shot,” Gay said.

Gasol then made sure Bryant did not cap his big performance with a game-winning shot by popping out to the perimeter and guarding him in the final seconds.

That forced Bryant to pass to teammate Ron Artest and he missed from three-point range before the final buzzer sounded.

Gasol finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds and he was also the only player to swat a shot in the game. He finished with three blocks.

Zach Randolph, who is on the Western Conference All-Star Team, poured in 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds for Memphis.

Pau Gasol, the older brother of Marc, had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers.

Memphis improved to 18-6 at home and 26-21 overall while LA dropped to 37-12 on the season.

With Bryant penciled in to represent the United States later this year in Turkey in Group B against Brazil, Slovenia, Croatia, Tunisia and Iran, Marc Gasol will play for Spain in Group D against Lithuania, France, New Zealand, Canada and Lebanon.

Pau Gasol will not make a decision on playing for the national team until the end of the NBA season.

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