Kobe Bryant looked like the legendary Masked Man on Wednesday night but played more like the Man of Steel.
Wearing a clear plastic face mask to protect a broken nose, Bryant had 31 points, seven rebounds and eight assists and the LA Lakers cruised past the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves for the 17th consecutive time, 104-85.
"It was a terrific night for Kobe with those numbers," Lakers coach Mike Brown said. "Kobe's a special human being. I don't have any answers for him. I don't know what he's made of. He thinks different, his body reacts different."
Bryant was cleared to play shortly before game time by a neurologist after suffering the broken nose and a concussion when taking a hard foul by Dwyane Wade in Sunday's All-Star Game.
"It was an experience because I've never had one before," Bryant said of the concussion.
While Bryant was toasting the Timberwolves on the court, the NBA's leading scorer was roasting inside.
"It (the mask) just started sweating immediately like I had a sauna over my face," he said. "It was like I was drinking my sweat, because it was leaking out of the mask. It was totally disgusting."
After playing with various ailments including a broken finger, torn wrist ligaments, a sore knee, now the broken nose and a concussion, Bryant was asked if there's anything that can stop him.
"Don't jinx me, man," Bryant laughed.
Bryant will continue to wear the mask until the "nose stops being so sensitive, then I'll take it off," he said.
Spaniard Pau Gasol scored 15 points while Andrew Bynum had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers, who haven't lost to the T-Wolves since Mar 6, 20007.
"It was vintage Kobe, tonight," Bynum said.
Elsewhere:Chicago Bulls 96, San Antonio Spurs 89: Derrick Rose scored 29 points and the visiting Bulls won for 11th time in the last 13 games to move ahead of idle Miami atop the Eastern Conference after slipping past the Southwest Division-leading Spurs.
Gary Neal netted 21 points for the Spurs, who had won 12 of their previous 13 contests.
Oklahoma City Thunder 92, Philadelphia 76ers 88: Kevin Durant scored 23 points, Russell Westbrook had 22 points with a season-high 13 rebounds and the league-leading Thunder closed on a 15-4 run to earn its sixth straight victory after beating the host 76ers.
New York Knicks 120, Cleveland Cavaliers 103: Carmelo Anthony tossed in 22 points, Jeremy Lin had 19 along with 13 assists and the Knicks outscored the visiting Cavaliers 71-42 in the lopsided second half for the runaway victory.
Boston Celtics 102, Milwaukee Bucks 96: Kevin Garnett had 25 points, 10 rebounds and four free throws down the stretch while Rajon Rondo collected his third triple double of the season, with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, as the Celtics slipped past the visiting Bucks.
Orlando Magic 102, Washington Wizards 95: Ryan Anderson had 23 points with 15 rebounds, and the visiting Magic made 15-of-36 from behind the arc, to hand the Wizards their sixth straight loss despite a game-high 33 points by John Wall.
Golden State Warriors 85, Atlanta Hawks 82: Monta Ellis scored 24 points, David Lee had 22 points, 12 rebounds and the go-ahead layup with 30 seconds left as the visiting Warriors clipped the Hawks for their third win in the last four games.
Detroit Pistons 109, Charlotte Bobcats 94: Rodney Stuckey scored 29 points, Greg Monroe had 19 with a career-high 20 rebounds and the Pistons ended a three-game slide by sending the league-worst Bobcats to their 19th loss in the last 20 games.
Toronto Raptors 95, New Orleans Hornets 84: DeMar DeRozan and reserve Linas Kleiza scored 21 points apiece as the visiting Raptors handed the Hornets their fourth loss in five decisions.
Memphis Grizzlies 96, Dallas Mavericks 85: Spaniard Marc Gasol had 22 points with 11 rebounds, Mike Conley added 20 points with 10 assists, leading the host Grizzlies to their eighth win in the last 10 games after beating the reigning NBA Champion Mavericks.
Dallas lost its third in a row and its leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki early in the second quarter with lower back tightness but he expects to play on Friday.
Denver Nuggets 104, Portland Trail Blazers 95: Ty Lawson had 18 points with nine assists after sitting out two games with a left ankle sprain, and the Nuggets beat the Trail Blazers in Denver for the 16th time in the last 17 games.
Utah Jazz 104, Houston Rockets 83: C.J. Miles scored a season-high 27 points, Devin Harris had 19 and the Jazz ended a four-game slide while snapping the visiting Rockets' four-game winning streak.
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