The 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers were on a mission to capture the NBA championship and avenge their humiliating loss to the Boston Celtics in the finals the previous year.
After getting past the Utah Jazz in five games in the first round of the playoffs, they ran into some trouble versus the Houston Rockets in the next round, as they dropped Game 1 in Los Angeles.
That loss made Game 2 a virtual must-win, and Kobe Bryant would make sure the Lakers put it in the victory column.
He scored 15 points in the first quarter as they leaped out to a 39-25 lead.
This was a very physical and emotional contest that featured multiple incidents, but Bryant made sure his team maintained its composure throughout.
His 20 second-half points gave him a total of 40 points on 16-of-27 shooting and the Lakers a 111-98 win.
With the Black Mamba stabilizing the Lakers, they would go on to outlast the Rockets in seven games and eventually recapture the world title for the first time since 2002.
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Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire