Kobe Bryant scored 13 points in the first quarter of his team’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night before finishing with 20 points on 26 shots. Early success, basically, no longer ensures a stellar overall performance by the five-time champion and future retiree.
But his play during the first half against the Washington Wizards is encouraging and heartening nonetheless. Bryant scored 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting before intermission on Wednesday evening, showing off the supreme shot-making skills that have come to define the league over the past 20 years.
His first bucket was a typically difficult pull-up jumper.
He splashed a three-pointer from D’Angelo Russell less than one minute later.
After heading to the bench for a breather, Bryant returned to begin the second quarter and took Garrett Temple to school.
He drilled another spot-up triple just shortly thereafter, and hit his last shot of the half with a classic fadeaway from the block.
How did the Verizon Center crowd respond? Like most any arena in the NBA would these days: By lavishing the struggling 37-year-old with praise. As Bryant went to the free throw line with the half winding down, a strong, consistent chant of “KOBE! KOBE! KOBE!” could be heard on the game’s broadcast.
Even better for Bryant than individual success, though? The Lakers lead the Wizards 59-51.