Dec. 20, 2005
27 years, 119 days
At his most brilliant, Kobe Bryant was able to take on a whole team nearly singlehandedly.
Facing a Dallas squad that would go on to play in the NBA Finals, Bryant made the Mavericks look foolish, as he outscored them by himself through three quarters, 62-61.
The Staples Center crowd erupted into chants of “We want Kobe!” during the fourth quarter, but there was no need, as Bryant’s 62 points powered the eventual 112-90 victory.
“I was very angry,” Bryant told reporters. “I felt like I wanted to come out and send a message that we’re going to dominate at home. We’re going to hit you. We’re going to bring it to you. I wanted to send that message.”
Bryant finished the game by shooting 18-of-31 from the field and 22-of-25 at the foul line in 33 minutes.
He scored a franchise-record 30 points in the third quarter alone, which he capped off by draining a 3-pointer with 4.4 seconds remaining.
“We had no answer for him,” Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. “We tried to double-team him. We tried to zone him. We tried to trap him in the backcourt. And nothing worked. He had his way with us tonight.”
No other Laker scored in double figures on a night when additional offense was largely unnecessary. In fact, Bryant even managed to collect eight rebounds and three steals when not putting the ball in the bucket.
Bryant overshadowed everyone that night, including Santa Claus himself, calling his performance “an early Christmas present” for the home crowd.
Kobe performances on this day in history: