With the Los Angeles Lakers in a tight race for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoffs, Kobe Bryant overcame a sinus infection to score a game-high 42 points in a 106-94 win against the Golden State Warriors in front of a then-franchise record crowd of 20,375.
Bryant shot 11-for-29 from the field, made 16 of 18 free throw attempts, and added four rebounds, five assists and three steals to keep the Lakers 1.5 games ahead of the Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz.
In the process, Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to score 16,000 career points at 27 years and 192 days old. He bested Wilt Chamberlain’s mark by four days, and reached the milestone in 684 career games, the 22nd-fastest player in terms of games played.
Two months prior, Bryant became the youngest player to 15,000 career points. Doing so in 657 games, or the 29th-fastest pace in league history. Bryant was also the youngest player to reach 10,000 career points.
Despite Bryant’s heroics, the Warriors remained competitive for much of the night. A Baron Davis 3-pointer trimmed their 21-point deficit to nine with just over three minutes remaining in the game.
But Bryant responded to score seven straight points for the Lakers, cementing their win. Chris Mihm (16 points) and Brian Cook (12) were the only other Lakers to score in double-figures. Jason Richardson led the Warriors with 27 points, and Travis Murphy had 18.
The night finished with Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher needing to be separated by teammates after Odom’s hard foul on his future teammate with 2.1 seconds remaining. The two then exchanged words after the game went final, though Odom downplayed the incident.
With their win the Lakers avoided falling to under .500 for the first time of the 2005-06 season.
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