At a time when the Lakers needed anything to stop the dive toward mediocrity, they relied on a trusty source who compiled a track record in bailing them out in tough situations.
The man’s name is Kobe Bryant. You may have heard of him. He has won five NBA championships, climbed to fourth place on the league’s all-time scoring and sank too many game winning-shots to count. But the Lakers’ 129-122 overtime victory on Sunday over the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center went beyond Bryant providing his distinguishable scoring touch. He collected his 20th career triple double by posting 31 points on 11-of-24 shooting, 11 rebounds and 12 assists by basically doing everything.
Incidentally, this coincided with Bryant becoming the first NBA player both to post 30,000 career points and 6,000 assists.
“It’s a huge huge honor,” Bryant said. “It means I pass more than people say.”
Plenty instead have griped this season about Bryant’s shot selection. After all, he has led the league with 26.4 points per game albeit on only 38.8 percent shooting. Bryant’s deliberate approach toward increasing his around-the-clock treatment and strict diet juxtaposes when he scored a career-high 81 points eight years ago against Toronto after consuming pepperoni pizza and grape soda.
But Bryant turned back the clock by playing his most efficient game all season.
“He’s just an amazing basketball player. That’s the bottom line. He’s had an unbelievable career. He’s still going pretty strong,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “There’s a lot left in that tank, it’s obvious. His accomplishments are just fantastic. To watch him continue to compete the way that he does at this level is remarkable.”