The NBA is having a showcase of 50-point games this season, with eight players hitting the mark so far, threatening to topple the modern record of 18 50-point games in a season, set in 2006-07.
That season, Kobe Bryant had a mind-blowing TEN games of 50 or more all by himself. That's more than the entire NBA has in most seasons. Kobe had four straight games in which he torched teams for 50 or more. It was dazzling. It was legend-making. And it was completely necessary on a mediocre Lakers team that finished 42-40 and barely made the playoffs.
Here are all of Kobe's 50s that season. Enjoy the ride.
52 vs. Utah Jazz, 11/30/06
Stats: 19-26 FG, 2-3 3pt, 12-15 FT, 4 reb, 3 ast
If you don't remember, the Lakers surrounded Kobe with a pretty lame lineup in 2006-07, Phil Jackson's second season since returning to LA. The starting five on this night included Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, Kwame Brown and Smush Parker. LO had a near triple-double (14-11-8) but Bryant was the rest of the show in a 132-102 win over a Utah team that had won 13 of its first 16 games.
53 vs. Houston Rockets, 12/15/06
Stats: 17-38 FG, 5-8 3pt, 14-16 FT, 10 reb, 8 ast
Kobe dropped 53 on the Rockets not once but TWICE this season. On this night the Lakers survived a 35-and-15 game by Yao Ming to win in 2OT, 112-102. LA trailed 81-69 with 7:03 left before Kobe and Smush rallied the team. Yao forced OT and then 2OT, but LA outscored Houston 13-2 in 2OT. Kobe had 12 points in the OT periods as LA improved to 16-7 with another win over a playoff-caliber team, and he followed it with another near triple-double, scoring 45 in a win over Washington.
58 at Charlotte Bobcats, 12/29/06
Stats: 22-45 FG, 4-11 3pt, 10-12 FT, 5 reb, 4 ast
Kobe scored 14 straight against Gerald Wallace and the Bobcats in the fourth quarter but missed two shots for the win at the end of regulation as Charlotte forced OT. He scored all seven of LA's points in 2OT, but LA still couldn't seal the deal, and Kobe fouled out with 38 seconds left in 3OT and the Lakers down by five en route to a 133-124 loss to the 8-21 Bobcats. Oh, and this isn't the game that made the Lakers interested in Adam Morrison; MJ's No. 3 overall pick went 1 for 15.
(Full disclosure: I still have this game on videotape and it was amazing. I watched it again even after watching it live.)
65 vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 3/16/07
Stats: 23-39 FG, 8-12 3pt, 11-12 FT, 7 reb, 3 ast
Kobe had "cooled off" for two and a half months, and the Lakers much more so, when he turned unguardable for a four-game stretch. With LA trailing 96-89 with 1:53 left, Bryant blazed the Blazers with three straight 3-pointers, part of 15 straight he scored in a 24-point fourth quarter to force OT. In the extra period he scored nine more, including the go-ahead 3 in the final minute, for a 116-111 win.
Instead of falling to .500, the Lakers improved to 34-32, and Kobe was in full season-saving mode.
50 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 3/18/07
Stats: 17-35 FG, 4-9 3pt, 12-14 FT, 6 reb, 3 ast
Kobe and the Lakers survived a 26-15-6-3 game by Kevin Garnett for a 109-102 win to improve to 35-32. Bryant and Mark Madsen, making a return to LA with Minnesota, combined to score 50 points.
60 at Memphis Grizzlies, 3/22/07
Stats: 20-37 FG, 3-7 3pt, 17-18 FT, 5 reb, 4 ast
Kobe scored 17 in the fourth to lift the Lakers to a 121-119 win to improve to 36-32. They survived a 35-and-15 game by Pau Gasol and must've come away pretty impressed by him, since they gave up Kwame Brown to get him a couple years later.
50 at New Orleans Hornets, 3/23/07
Kobe delivered his fourth straight game of 50 or more against a sub-.500 team to lift the Lakers to 37-32 and close in on a playoff spot. Bryant played almost 47 minutes one night after playing 45 at Memphis and scored 43 in 46 minutes two nights later vs. Golden State.
LA must've been impressed by Chris Paul's 28-and-12 night; the team almost acquired him too a few years later.
53 vs. Houston Rockets, 3/30/07
Stats: 19-44 FG, 3-9 3pt, 12-14 FT, 2 reb, 2 ast
Kobe got the Rockets again, scoring 17 of LA's last 19 in the fourth quarter, hitting the tying 3 with 11.8 seconds left and scoring eight of LA's nine points in OT. But this time Houston was too much with a healthy Tracy McGrady back in the lineup. T-Mac, who had a 30-and-10 game, was fouled by Kobe on a 3 in the final minute of OT and pulled the Rockets to within 104-103 at the line. After a Kobe miss, Yao Ming, who had 39 and 11, scored for the lead, and after a Kobe travel, a couple Houston free throws and a missed 3 by Kobe, the playoff-bound Rockets escaped with a 107-104 OT win.
50 vs. LA Clippers, 4/12/07
Stats: 17-33 FG, 1-4 3pt, 15-15 FT, 9 reb, 1 ast
The upstart Clippers were fighting to go to the playoffs for a second straight year, ultimately finishing two games behind the Lakers and Warriors, who got the seventh and eighth seeds in the West. On this night, Kobe scored six early points in the fourth and the Lakers led 102-92 with 8:46 left. But he missed his last five shots and the Lakers went six minutes without a field goal. Elton Brand sparked the run with a three-point play, on a foul by Andrew Bynum, then blocked the Lakers center on the other end. Brand, who had a 32-12-7-3 game, later stole the ball from Kobe and Corey Maggette (39 points) helped put away a 118-110 win that dropped the Lakers to 40-39.
50 vs. Seattle SuperSonics, 4/15/07
Stats: 18-25 FG, 3-6 3pt, 11-13 FT, 8 reb, 3 ast
Kobe needed this 109-98 win over the pre-Kevin Durant Sonics, and a 34-point night in a season-closing win at Sacramento, to secure the No. 7 seed. He also won the scoring title, averaging 31.6 for the season. In the playoffs he scored 39, 15, 45, 31 and 34, but the Lakers lost to Mike D'Antoni's Phoenix Suns in the first round for the second straight year.
They must've been impressed with the coach too, hiring him in 2012, but he couldn't get the Lakers past the first round ... and Kobe went down the next year, dooming D'Antoni's Laker tenure.