It was only two days ago that we tracked Kobe’s NBA season-high 48-point night against Phoenix, but Bryant went off and hit 40 again just 24 hours later, in a tough overtime victory at Utah.
So, here we are again.
In his last six games, Kobe is averaging 36.7 points, enough to vault him over LeBron James (29.0) for the current NBA scoring lead with 30.3 points per game. He’s scored at least 30 in 6-of-7 games, and is shooting 50.3 percent in those contests since a 6-for-28 clunker at Denver (Jan. 1).
To rewind back to Monday: the 131 NBA games that it took a player to hit 40 was the farthest into a season in the shot-clock era, in terms of games played, and the 48 were the most by someone of Bryant’s age (33 years, 140 days on Jan. 10) since Michael Jordan went off for 51 points at the age of 38.
Tuesday’s 40-point game was the 109th time in Bryant’s career that he’s scored at least 40, though only three of those performances came last season as he battled a chronic right knee injury. In 2009-10 season, Bryant eclipsed the 40-point mark on eight different occasions, L.A. winning seven of those games. Only two players in history have more: Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173).
The Lakers are now 75-34 all-time in games that Bryant hits the 40 mark; the franchise record for a single season is also held by the Black Mamba, when in 2005-06 he scored at least 40 … 27 times.
If you’re looking for a sign that Bryant’s knee is feeling better this season after offseason treatment in Germany, consider the fact that the last time he scored 40 in consecutive games was in November of 2009, when he went for 41 at Houston (Nov. 4) and vs. Memphis (Nov. 6). Well, on Monday and Tuesday, he not only did so with no rest in a back-to-back, playing a total of 81 minutes, but couldn’t help but scoff after the Jazz game when asked if he were tired, if scoring that much took more out of him.
The Black Mamba is certainly coiled and striking right now; we’ll all be watching to see what transpires as the young season progresses.