Lakers guard Kobe Bryant knows that his place in NBA history would be meaningless without the great players who came before him.
When Bryant passed Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list, moving into third place, the two talked. Jordan’s message?
“Go get Karl [Malone],” he said of former Jazz great Karl Malone, who ranks second all-time with 36,928 points.
Bryant, who wasn’t in the lineup against the Bulls on Thursday at the United Center, has 32,365 points. Bryant’s list of “thank-yous” rivals an Oscar-winning speech.
“It was more of a thankful feeling to Michael and the players who came before because I’ve learned so much from them,” Bryant said. “And I don’t say that lightly. I’ve literally just stole [expletive] from them, like spin moves and pull-ups. It’s not me passing these players. It’s us. I’ve literally taken things from their games and made them my own.”
Jordan is fourth all-time with 32,292 points.
Hinrich injury means Moore time
Guard Kirk Hinrich missed his second consecutive game with a strained left hamstring. He suffered the injury in the Bulls’ victory over the Raptors on Monday. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Hinrich was “day-to-day.”
Hinrich’s absence has meant more playing time for reserve guard E’Twaun Moore, who scored four points in 7:21 against the Lakers.
“He’s smart, tough and he doesn’t make mistakes out there,” Thibodeau said of Moore. “You can play him at the point, you can play him at the two. And it’s a credit to him. He’s very well prepared.”
Seeing is believing
The general sentiment around the NBA is that when the Bulls are healthy, they’re as good as any team in the league.
That belief is starting to spread in the locker room. With only forward Doug McDermott (right knee) and Hinrich out, the Bulls have looked dynamic offensively. They have scored more than 100 points in four of the last five games.
The Bulls won their fifth in a row Thursday and have won eight of their last nine.
“Right now there’s a belief a lot more than there was a couple weeks ago, and as a player, there’s nothing better than having that belief,” center Joakim Noah said.
“When we’re one, we’re competing, nobody can mess with us, and that’s the feeling we’re starting to get.”