On this day in history, January 14th of 2002, Pau Gasol probably thought to himself, “one day I would like to play with Kobe Bryant.”
Gasol had a decent night with a team-high of 25 points and 12 rebounds in 44 minutes, but his future teammate, Kobe Bryant, poured in a ridiculous 56 points in just 34 minutes. The only reason Kobe didn’t play any additional minutes is that the Lakers had a 98-59 lead at the end of the third quarter. It’s pretty insane to think Kobe Bryant almost outscored an opposing team by himself after three quarters; It’s more insane that he actually ended up doing it against the Mavs in 2005, by outscoring them 62-61 after three quarters.
The 56 was a new career-high for Kobe, who made 21-of-34 shots and 11-of-12 free throws.
“For some reason, I felt really good,” Bryant said. “I felt like I was in a groove. I didn’t get the feeling of the basket being big, I had a lot of bounce. The legs felt extremely good.”
One of the most amusing things about the game was how good Kobe was feeling about suspended teammate Shaq: Kobe wrote the #34 on his hideous-looking Adidas shoes when he heard about Shaq being suspended. After the game, he was asked if he had a message for Shaq. His response: “I love you, man!”
That love didn’t last much longer but thankfully for Kobe, Pau Gasol was there to try to fill the void.
SHAQ VS BRAD MILLER
If you want to know why Shaq was suspended for three games, check out this missed punch on Bulls’ center Brad Miller after a flagrant foul by him and Charles Oakley. Thankfully, Shaq didn’t land the punch because we might have had another Kermit Washington/Rudy T story if he did.
The punch also came with $15,000 fine. Miller was suspended for one game and Oakley got two.
Since we are talking about big games and Lakers’ bigs of the past, if you flashback 64 years ago today, George Mikan scored 51 of the Lakers 77 points in a loss to the Royals.