NBA Hoops

Kobe Bryant’s top 100 games: No. 61

Kobe Bryant’s top 100 games: No. 61

The 2010 NBA Finals was the latest installment of the famed rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. For the Lakers, it was the shot at revenge they had longed for ever since losing the 2008 championship to Boston.

For Kobe Bryant, it was also an incredible opportunity to not only get his fifth ring but also unquestionably cement himself as one of the true all-time greats.

After four games, both teams were tied at two wins apiece, and the pivotal fifth game would be played in Beantown.

L.A. was struggling offensively, having scored just 94, 91 and 89 points in the previous three games, and in Game 5 those troubles continued, as they trailed 45-39 at halftime.

Seeing a golden opportunity slipping away, Bryant went nuclear in the third quarter. He scored 19 points in the third quarter, including 17 straight points in less than five minutes, to single-handedly keep Los Angeles in the game.

It was one of the greatest individual stretches he ever had.

Bryant had 38 points on the night, but the Lakers fell short, 92-86, although it wasn’t because of him.

He got the usual criticism afterward for taking 27 shots and shouldering the offensive burden almost by himself, but coach Phil Jackson defended him, making it clear they needed him to do so.

Via ESPN:

“He’s the kind of guy [where] you ride the hot hand, that’s for sure,” Jackson said. “We were waiting for him to do that. … He went out there and found a rhythm.”

Although the Celtics had taken a 3-2 series lead, they couldn’t get that final win in Southern California, as the Lakers took the next two and captured the world championship.

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