Kobe Bryant’s first dunk of the year—a poster over Clint Capela—inspired a full range of emotions and expressions from the Lakers and the Rockets during Houston’s 107–87 road win on Thursday.
With a little more than nine minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Rockets leading 54–44 on Thursday, Bryant received a pass from Jordan Clarkson at the right angle. Using a quick move to get past Trevor Ariza, the 37-year-old Bryant took two dribbles into the paint and then decided to challenge the 6'10" Capela.
Houston’s 21-year-old center contested the shot with his left hand but Bryant was able to slip the right-handed dunk past him, bringing the Staples Center crowd to its feet with the slam.
That’s when the hilarity began. Dwight Howard, seated on Houston’s bench, couldn’t help but smile. Nick Young looked like he had seen a ghost. Julius Randle nearly hit the deck in surprise. Rookie D’Angelo Russell received a technical foul for running onto the court in celebration. Bryant stuck his tongue out in celebration. The crowd started up the familiar “M-V-P” chants.
James Harden posted a game-high 25 points on 7-of-24 shooting, six rebounds and six assists. Howard finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds in the win over his former team.
Houston improved to 13–14. L.A. fell to 4–22.
Bryant scored a team-high 22 points in 32 minutes, grabbed eight rebounds and dished three assists.
There’s little doubt that this dunk is the top on-court highlight of Bryant’s “Farewell Tour” to date.