On Dec. 13, 2007, the Los Angeles Lakers geared up for a showdown at Staples Center against the defending-champion San Antonio Spurs. In a game that steadily turned into a back-and-forth contest, Kobe Bryant once again had to step up and guide his team in a comeback attempt.
The Lakers had reached an unstable part in their franchise history involving Bryant, past the days of a duo with Shaquille O’Neal and not yet partnered with Pau Gasol. It was during this time that Bryant had to continually shoulder the load against defenses that would encourage him to play selfishly.
However, the future Hall-of-Famer would continually exploit that game plan and display his dominance as one of the greatest scorers of all time.
The Lakers entered halftime with a 51-43 lead, showing signs of life following a horrible start to the game. Los Angeles started the contest by shooting 1-for-14 from the field, going up against a team that was missing two of their three stars as Tony Parker and Tim Duncan sat with respective ankle injuries.
However, that never stopped a Greg Popovich-coached team from giving it their all, with Popovich always prioritizing the health of his players over a single victory.
The Spurs mustered a strong second half rally to take the lead going into the fourth quarter, outscoring the Lakers by 10 points. Andrew Bynum received two technical fouls in the third, resulting in his first career ejection.
One key factor towards the Lakers resurgence was their effort on defense, including limiting Manu Ginobili to 5-for-17 shooting and seven turnovers.
From there, Bryant took over in the fourth quarter, along with some help from Lamar Odom and Vladimir Radmanovic. A Bruce Bowen 3-pointer tied the game at 81, setting up a deciding change in momentum.
Radmanovic knocked down consecutive 3-pointers to break the game open. The final blow to the depleted Spurs would be from both Odom and Bryant. Odom scored 15 points and pulled eight rebounds for the night, using his ball-handling abilities to lead the break and find Bryant in scoring situations in transition.
The second unit was able to give the best closer in the game an opportunity to work his magic, totaling 18 points in the fourth quarter. Bryant then put his stamp on the game, scoring 14 points in the second half.
He finished with 30 points, going 10-for-24 from the field, with seven rebounds, three assists, and four steals. The Lakers held on for a 102-97 victory, their fourth consecutive win early into the 2007-08 campaign.
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