Bryant Reaches 6,000 Assists in Triple-Double Performance

Kobe Bryant finished Sunday’s game with his first triple-double since April 2, 2013.

As Kobe Bryant walked off the STAPLES Center court following Sunday’s victory over the Toronto Raptors, Nick Young approached the Lakers captain about a milestone he had reached that night.

Bryant replied nonchalantly about becoming the first player in NBA history to score 30,000 points and dish out 6,000 assists, then asked for a soda, Young said.

After 19 seasons, 16 all-star selections and five NBA championships, Bryant appears to have grown accustomed to making history, which left Young stunned.

“It seemed like it just comes naturally to him,” Young said. “He doesn’t get too up or too down. But just to be in his shoes and do what he does — it’s great.”

Bryant, who has racked up 32,153 points and 6,003 assists in his career, has blended scoring and passing as successfully as few others have.
Of the top 20 scorers in NBA history, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 5,660 career assists are the closest to Bryant’s total – and they still fall 343 short.

“(Bryant) is an amazing basketball player,” head coach Byron Scott said. “That’s the bottom line. He’s had an unbelievable career, and he’s still going pretty strong. There’s still a lot left in that tank. It’s obvious. His accomplishments are fantastic, and just to watch him continue to compete the way he does at this level is remarkable.”

Bryant’s performance was special for another reason as well.

With 31 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds, the 36-year-old recorded the 20th triple-double of his career to lead Los Angeles past the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors in overtime, 129-122.

“He played like a Hall of Famer,” Toronto head coach Dwane Casey said. “He came out, started the game passing and getting other people involved. He got his teammates into a rhythm. He rebounded. (There were) a lot of good things he did.

“He got a lot of people going and got them in rhythm different from the way they’ve been playing.”
According to Bryant, his fellow Lakers reciprocated that rhythm creation for him.

While Bryant finished as the game’s leading scorer by shooting 11-for-24 from the field, he credited his teammates for making the adjustments that were needed to end the team’s four-game losing streak.

“The last few games, I’ve been on them about moving and spacing properly,” Bryant said. “But honestly, credit goes to them. They shot the ball with confidence and they made shots. When they do that, we become very difficult to guard. It enables me to kind of pick the opposition apart.”

In particular, Bryant noted that Toronto was more reluctant to double-team him when his teammates, who shot 50 percent from the field (36-for-72), were threats to score. When the Raptors did send two defenders at Bryant, he consistently found the open man for an unchallenged shot.

“My guys were in great rhythm from the start,” he said. “They shot the ball with confidence and opened up the game for me.”

That link between the team’s shooting and Bryant’s all-around effort was evident early, as he tallied 10 points, eight assists and four rebounds at halftime, while the team shot 57.1 percent (24-for-42).

But the Lakers captain was even more impressive in the second half and overtime, pouring in 27 points, four assists and nine rebounds to seal his first triple-double since April 2, 2013.

“Kobe was amazing tonight: dropping dimes to everybody, rebounding, shooting it, being a great playmaker,” Carlos Boozer said. “When he plays like that, we all get involved. He was amazing. He’s amazing every night, but tonight was something special.”

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