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Bryant helped the Lakers trim their deficit after that, hitting five free throws and his milestone on 3-foot jumper in the last 2:15 of the second quarter.

Jamison opened the third-quarter onslaught with 3, Howard followed with a fast-break layup and Bryant had two straight fast-break dunks, one of which he created with a steal. Howard finished the surge with a layup.

“I just didn’t think our defense was there, especially that first five or six minutes of the third quarter,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “Our defense was really poor, and we can’t afford those lapses.”

After the game, Bryant sat in his locker, reflecting on the elite company he now keeps in NBA history, and the things he sees in younger, prolific scoring stars like Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, whom the Lakers will face on Friday night, and who could very well join the 30,000-point club at the rate he’s going.

One common characteristic, Bryant said, is an apparent immunity to both pressure and criticism.

“Scorers kind of have a fighter-pilot mentality. We’re a different breed,” he said. “But there are different positions. We scored in a myriad of ways. We all went about it differently in different situations. It’s fun to see.”

NOTES: Before attending the game, Stern toured the headquarters of the New Orleans Saints, also owned by Benson, and saw how Benson’s plans for the NBA franchise were taking shape. New construction has begun on additions that will also accommodate Hornets offices and practice courts. …. Stern said he was pleased to be able to also see Bryant surpass the 30,000-point mark in person. “As a talent, a competitor, I think that he is up there on the pedestal with Michael Jordan,” Stern said. “He is one of the greatest.” … Stern also discussed the possibility of a team name change for New Orleans, something Benson has said he wants since buying the club last spring. Stern says the club has not yet applied for a name change but that the league would likely accept whatever name the Hornets want and expedite the transition.