When you think of Kobe Bryant and Peja Stojakovic together, you probably think about the Lakers and Kings rivalry during the Shaq/Kobe 00-03 dynasty. What many people probably don’t know or remember is Peja torching Kobe and the Lakers in the years after the dynasty and rigged playoff series.
In 2004, Peja made 7-of-11 threes on his way to a game-high 37 points and a two-point win over the Lakers “SuperTeam” with Gary Payton and Karl “looking for Mexican girls” Malone. Kobe was just two points away from tying Peja’s game-high but attempted 10 more field goals and 4 more free throws. So basically, Kobe wasn’t efficient and Peja was as hot as his model wife, Aleka Kamila.
A few years later, Peja took his talents to New Orleans and had arguably the hottest night of his career and of course it came against the man who stole some rings from him earlier in the decade: Kobe Bryant, now running with some future NBA coaches (Luke Walton and Derek Fisher), a criminal (Javaris Crittenton), a bunch of forgotten white guys (Farmer, Mihm, Radmanovic, Vujacic) and whatever you want to call Andrew Bynum.
Peja scored a game-high 36 points, connecting on a franchise record 10 threes (most ever against the Lakers) on just 13 attempts. The previous record of 8 was set by David Wesley back in 2002. Kobe had a team-high 28 in the loss and shockingly only attempted 20 shots in 37 minutes.
“The way he shot the ball tonight was unbelievable.” Said Hornets guard Chris Paul, who had a franchise-high 21 assists and almost became a Kobe teammate a few years after this game. “When he’s lights out like that, you’ve got to give him the ball.”
Kobe also complimented his former rival after the game.
“Obviously, Chris Paul was making great penetration and Peja shot the ball extremely well. You don’t want a guy like Peja to get going. It’s a lesson learned.”
That lesson was revisited in 2011, when the Lakers and the Mavs faced off in the 2011 NBA Playoffs. In Game 3, Peja hit a few big shots to help the Mavs pull off a comeback victory and take a 3-0 lead. Then in Game 4, Peja came off the bench and was a perfect 6-of-6 from downtown as the Mavs destroyed the Lakers by 36 for the playoff sweep. Peja finished the game with 21 points on 7-of-7 shooting. Kobe — now wanting people to call him The Black Mamba — scored just 17 points on a ridiculously low 18 shot attempts.
The Mavs would go on to beat the Thunder and Heat to win the 2011 NBA Championship. A few months later, Peja, at the age of 34, announced his retirement and said he would only consider making a comeback if he felt like another round of revenge on Kobe (I obviously made the last part up).