Late in the 2009-10 season and in the first round of the playoffs, Kobe Bryant’s left knee was causing him problems, and it looked like his days of being a great player may have been over.
But that quickly changed when the Los Angeles Lakers faced the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals.
L.A. won the first two games at Staples Center fairly easily, as Bryant scored 31 and 30 points, respectively, while starting to look like his old self again.
Game 3 in Salt Lake City was the pivotal contest in this matchup, as the Lakers looked to go up 3-0 while preventing the Jazz from turning it into a competitive series.
The Purple and Gold got off to a bad offensive start, but Bryant’s 20 first-half points allowed his team to stay within striking distance.
He then scored seven points in the final 1:43 of the fourth quarter to allow the Lakers to eke out a 111-110 victory.
Bryant finished with 35 points and seven assists, and it was a loud message that he was still the best in the game.
After looking shaky in the first round versus the young and talented Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers had regained their mojo, as had the Black Mamba, and they would power their way to a second straight NBA championship weeks later.