We’ve wondered, and will continue to wonder until season’s end, exactly how much basketball life is left in Kobe Bryant’s legs. Tuesday night, as it turned out, there was plenty.
With a would-be franchise-record 11th straight loss on the line, Bryant locked in to the tune of a season-high 38 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center. Even a rhetorical what-should-we-have-expected from an all-time great would not have pointed to a performance quite like this, with Bryant burying 7-of-11 three-pointers for the first time since March 28, 2008 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Adding on to the surprising resonance of Bryant’s sterling results was the fact that he’s made seven threes 11 times in his 20-year career. The Lakers pulled away with the 119–115 win as Bryant scored their final eight points on one jumper and six free throws to calmly seal the game. There had been question whether he would even play prior to tip-off with his nagging shoulder and other lumps. It was, to understate things, good that he did. Andrew Wiggins scored 30 points for the Timberwolves, who nearly completed a second-half comeback after being down 16.
The Lakers moved to 10–41 with the victory. The worst mark in franchise history is 19 victories, set by the 1957–58 team in Minneapolis. The team’s worst mark in Los Angeles is 21. It remains unclear what Bryant has left, but observers can, at the very least, cling to nights like these.
He surpassed his previous season-high of 31 points against the Washington Wizards on Dec. 2. You can watch full highlights of L.A.’s win below.
L.A. travels to face the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night. Minnesota fell to 14–36 and played without Kevin Garnett who sat out with a sore knee.