When looking at the box score at first glance in the Los Angeles Lakers’ improbable, seemingly impossible 108-102 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night, it may look like Kobe Bryant did a lot by himself.
Bryant totaled 42 points on an efficient 14-of-21 shooting from the field, including 3-of-7 from the three-point line and hit the dagger that sealed the victory with 36.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. It was vintage Black Mamba, “The Look” and requisite killer instinct included.
But then there’s another number that jumps out from the line — 12 assists. Twelve assists. In achieving the 42-point, 12-assist performance, he became the first player to accomplish the feat since LeBron James did so two years ago. It was a historic night for Bryant, as it was the first time in his 17-year career that he amassed those point and assist totals to go along with at least seven rebounds.
It was a game they had to have, and after being down by as many as 25 and 18 in the fourth quarter, Bryant willed them back. This time, however, he knew he couldn’t do it alone, even against a lesser opponent.
“Honestly, I was thinking I need to bring my teammates along with me,” Bryant told reporters after the game. “So I just kept telling myself at halftime, ‘I got to bring them with me.’ … Because I was getting to the rim at the end of the first half and I knew I could score any time I wanted to, but I said, ‘I got to bring them along with me.’ I got to force the game upon them and hope that turns the tide.”
Jodie Meeks scored 19 points and hit 5-of-9 three-pointers, clearly benefiting from the attention Bryant drew.
This season has been about the dichotomy of Bryant. He’s spent half the season scoring at an astounding rate, leading the league in scoring for much of the first half. He followed that up by becoming a form of Steve Nash. What it all boils down to is the fact that Bryant can pretty much do anything he wants on a basketball court, and for that, he’s still a force to be reckoned with and is as dangerous as ever.
The Lakers still have plenty of work to do, and if they lost this game, their season was all but over. But somehow, Kobe Bryant found out the best way to win was to get his teammates involved and take over the offense all at the same time. He would call it as simple as reading the defense.
It really was another example of what makes him a legend.