In 1996 Kobe scored his first career NBA point in Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. 19 years and 32,261 points later, the Lakers were at 6-16 going into Friday night in the 2014-15 NBA campaign.
Kobe was 31 points away from passing Michael Jordan and becoming 3rd all-time on the scoring list.He would have an opportunity to pass the legendary two guard against his long-time rival San Antonio Spurs.
Tim Duncan and the Spurs are putting together a satirically typical season by winning games while resting their star players. Gregg Popovich is used to this winning formula, as he only puts players on the court who are willing to play team basketball.
Kobe has had meaningful games against the Spurs in both the regular season and the playoffs, but none of them have had the impact that this game would on an individual level.
The Lakers have had success recently with Kobe playing point guard. He would need to get his shooters involved early and the Lakers would have to contain the dribble penetration of Tony Parker to achieve victory.
The Spurs started off with two three-pointers from Danny Green. Tim Duncan followed a miss from Green to make the score 8-0 to begin the contest. The Lakers started the game 0-5. Kobe scored the first four Lakers points with two free throws and a jumper from the right side.Jordan Hill grabbed an offensive rebound and scored as the Spurs had four turnovers halfway through the quarter. Wes Johnson knocked down a jumper to make the score 14-9 in the favor of the Spurs. After another Spurs three, Jeremy Lin came off the bench and scored on two consecutive possessions. The Lakers made a couple of stops defensively and Carlos Boozer hit an open look to cut the lead to 4. After a fast break from the Spurs, Kobe scored a field goal for his seventh point of the game. He was 24 points away from passing Jordan with two minutes remaining in the period. Nick Young knocked down two straight threes to take the lead and add to the Lakers scoring off of the bench. Kobe hit two free throws, but the Spurs were consistent as the quarter ended at 25 a piece.
The second unit came out aggressive as Lin remained poised and found Robert Sacre inside on a drive to the bucket. Boozer and Lin hit consecutive jumpers from 15 feet , but the Spurs retaliated to take a one point lead. Young was allotted a technical foul which lead to three Spurs points. However, Lin was having a great game early on and hit a pull-up jumper from beyond the arc. Young knocked down his third triple of the game to make the score 37-35 with eight minutes to go in the half. The Spurs hit their fifth three and Young responded with his fourth as both teams were trigger happy in the first half. Young hit another to start the game five for five from downtown for 15 points. After a couple of Spurs buckets, including a layup off of a turnover, the Lakers called a timeout leading by one halfway through the period. Tim Duncan scored and Green dunked on a fast break, but Lin knocked down a three to end the Spurs 8-0 run. With three minutes left in the half Kobe found Johnson for the Lakers eighth three of the game. Kobe scored his 11th point of the game on a layup in traffic and then found Johnson for another triple in the corner to give the Lakers their biggest lead at six. The Spurs scored on a Duncan put back as Kobe went into the half needing 20 to for third on the scoring list. The score at halftime was 54-50 Lakers.
Johnson continued to shoot well to begin the second half as he knocked down an open 20 footer. Tony Parker finally got his first points of the game on a an open shot and Kobe responded with one of his own. Parker scored again as both teams continued to trade buckets. Kobe scored again from the free throw line on a jumper to give him 15 in the game. Green would hit a three but Johnson retaliated on the very next possession to give the Lakers a seven point lead. After a Hill outside shot the Spurs called a timeout with the score 69-61. In typical Spurs fashion, Green hit a three off of the timeout. They would hit another triple on their next possession to trim the lead down to two. Kobe hit two free throws and Sacre scored inside on a layup, but the Spurs came right back at the Lakers with a three-point play. Out of a timeout Kobe made a staggering move on Manu Ginobli and scored on a jump shot on the left baseline. He was 12 points away from passing MJ with 90 seconds left in the third period. Young took over towards the end of the period scoring seven points in a little over a minute of play. The quarter ended with the Lakers up 86-75.
Ginobli came out firing in the fourth hitting a pull-up three off the dribble. After another Ginobli basket, Young scored his 24th point of the game. However, the Spurs scored again to cut the Laker lead to eight. Both teams went ice cold in the first five minutes of play as the score was 90-83 Lakers as Kobe reentered the game.
The Spurs continued to cut the deficit with Tim Duncan making some history over his own moving into 18th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list passing Laker legend Jerry West. Unfortunately for Kobe, he was still stuck at 19 points which was 11 short of tying Michael Jordan.
Bryant went with a facilitating style of play on Friday which kept working in the fourth quarter. Kobe did hit his first three of the night to improve his total to 22 points with about two minutes left in the game. Corey Joseph headed to the line and missed his second, but Jordan Hill hit it out for bounds giving possession back to San Antonio with 1:45 left. Ginobili was fouled after the inbounds sending the veteran guard to the line for two. Manu converted on both free throws cutting the Lakers lead to seven.
After the Spurs were able to come out on top in a jumpball situation between Kobe and Joseph, Ginobili hit a three cutting into the lead. Los Angeles’ lead was cut to four and a lost possession by the Lakers immediately after resulted in another possession for San Antonio. Following a missed layup by Ginobili, the Lakers had the ball but quickly turned it over with a bad pass by Kobe. Danny Green then hit the three giving the Lakers only a one-point lead with 45 seconds remaining in the fourth. In an isolation situation, Kobe went up for a jumpshot, but it bounced off the back iron. Ginobili then went to the line once again after being fouled by Jordan Hill. Manu missed the first and made the second to tie the game at 101.
With 6.0 seconds left in the game, the Lakers had one last shot to win it. Kobe went up for a fadeaway on the left side with Boris Diaw and Danny Green getting out on him, but it fell short. The Spurs were able to grab the ball from Carlos Boozer and call a timeout with 1.2 seconds after the play was reviewed.
Tim Duncan received the ball on an inbounds play, but missed the shot at the buzzer forcing overtime.
Nick Young got things going for the Lakers in overtime with the first bucket giving the Los Angeles a two-point lead. Young fouled Matt Bonner on the other end sending one of the Spurs best shooters to the line. Bonner hit the first and missed the second.
Bryant attempted a three that was off the mark, but then connected with Hill to extend the lead to three. Joseph was able to strike back with a bucket for the Spurs cutting the Laker lead to one. An airball by Young gave possession back to San Antonio, but the Lakers were able to force the turnover. Hill then hit a jumper on Kobe’s eighth assist of the night. Green responded with a jumper for San Antonio. Boozer countered with a bucket of his own with another assist from Kobe. Duncan then scored consecutive baskets to give the Spurs the lead, 110-109.
With about a minute left, Jeremy Lin came back into the game. Kobe made an incredible attempt at a layup, but came up short. The Spurs then had an empty possession giving the ball back to the Lakers. Young hit an amazing three-pointer leaving 7.4 seconds on the clock giving the Lakers a two-point lead.
San Antonio inbounded the ball with Ginobili shooting a desperation three. Manu was off the mark and the Lakers went on to win, 112-110.