The 2003 season wasn’t the best for the Los Angeles Lakers as, after three straight championship runs, they had some serious struggles and ultimately failed to even make the Western Conference Finals. For Kobe Bryant, however, it was his best season to date.
For the first time, Kobe averaged 30 points during the season and had some amazing scoring exploits throughout the year. Arguably the most impressive was a streak of 40-point games, which he extended on Feb. 12, 2003.
Facing off against the Denver Nuggets for the second straight night, Kobe scored 51 points as the Lakers defeated the Nuggets, 113-102. What makes it even more embarrassing for Denver is that the night prior, Kobe dropped 42 in a 28-point victory.
The game was Kobe’s third straight with at least 40 points, and he would go on to stretch that streak to nine games total. On this night Kobe not only shot over 50 percent from the field, but he was outstanding at the free throw line, hitting 18 of 20.
Perhaps the most impressive stat of the night had nothing to do with Kobe, but rather his teammate Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq played 30 minutes, but attempted just six shots total. He still finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, even hitting 12 of 17 free throws.
At this point it was clear that Kobe had risen into the ranks of greatest players at the time as few could stop him. The fact that the Nuggets couldn’t do so in two straight chances furthers that point.
Re-living these moments still amazes as so few players are capable of doing what Kobe did. This is the reason why both of his jerseys hang in the Staples Center rafters alongside the rest of the Lakers greats.
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