Kobe Bryant’s top 100 games: No. 3

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After he had a very strong showing in the 2001 Western Conference semifinals versus the Sacramento Kings, many around the league were buzzing about Kobe Bryant.

But he was just getting started.

His Los Angeles Lakers faced the San Antonio Spurs, who had the league’s best record that year, in the Western Conference Finals. Most expected it to be a very hard-fought, low-scoring series that would go the limit.

But Bryant would start making sure in Game 1 that it would be as one-sided as a Texas twister.

He gradually heated up in the first half, as he had 17 points at halftime. But the third quarter would be a gut punch for the Spurs.

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Bryant put up 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting in that period, as he continually got to the basket. Despite the presence of Tim Duncan and David Robinson in the paint, the 22-year-old superstar kept getting easy layups and dunks, and San Antonio couldn’t do anything about it.

The Lakers won, 104-90, and Bryant finished with 45 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

After the game, Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant’s supposed enemy, showered him with high praise, saying the guard was his “idol” and that he was “the best player in the league.”

By now, any doubt that what O’Neal said was true was quickly fading away.

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Lakers have started Kendrick Nunn and Damian Jones in training camp


Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire

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