On Thursday night at Staples Center, Kobe Bryant stepped up the laddar and showed the world that he can still dunk.
After scoring seven points in the first half, Bryant turned up the energy in the third quarter. Early in the period, Bryant drove past defender Trevor Ariza and caught a glimpse of a clear path to the rim. As Bryant took flight, Houston Rockets power forward Clint Capela came over to protect the basket. Bryant had already elevated past the point of no return. Officially recorded at 9:25 in the third quarter, Bryant put down his first dunk of his 20th season and claimed Capela as the latest victim in a long line of faces to end up on NBA posters starring Bryant.
After the dunk, Staples Center jumped up to acknowledge their hero and provided him with an in-game standing ovation that included chants of "MVP."
More than only one play per 48 minutes, Bryant continued his recent stretch of efficient play. Including Thursday night, Bryant is averaging 18.8 points, 4.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds in 29.3 minutes over his previous six games. In fact, Bryant is shooting an astounding 48.9 percent from the field over his last six games.
Against the Rockets, the "Black Mamba" shot 5/6 from the field in the third quarter. Bryant would return in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 22 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one block shot and one slam dunk. His exit ushered yet another standing ovation and chants of "Kobe!" from the crowd.
Bryant helped make the Lakers competitive and entertaining after a slow start put LA down 16 points in the first quarter. LA would rally, but Houston led wire-to-wire and eventually won the game 107-87. James Harden scored 25 points with six assists and six rebounds, while Dwight Howard finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds and two block shots.
Kobe on his dunk: “I felt great. My legs felt lively, they fell springy. No idea where it came from, but it was there.” — Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) December 18, 2015
With the loss, the Lakers fell to 4-22, and the Rockets pushed up to 13-14 with the victory.