Here’s a look at some of the memorable games of Kobe Bryant vs. the Utah Jazz:
Nov. 20, 1996 — Bryant’s first game against Utah came at The Forum in Los Angeles. At the time, no one knew the 18-year-old who had been drafted No. 13 by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the Lakers would turn out to be one of the best players in NBA history.
He scored just 11 points, making all three of his 3-point tries in 21 minutes off the bench. Unlike many players who were stars right from the start, Bryant only started six games in his rookie season.
Dec. 4, 1996 — Utah’s first glimpse at Bryant was another forgettable performance as he played just 13 minutes in a 101-75 Lakers’ loss, scoring just eight points.
May 12, 1997 — It was Game 5 of the playoffs and with Byron Scott out with an injury, Robert Horry having been ejected and Shaquille O’Neal fouled out, the Lakers turned to their rookie in the final minutes. But he came up miserably, not only missing four shots in clutch time, but air-balling them, including two 3-pointers, one that could have tied the game in Utah’s series-clinching win. He finished 4 for 14 from the field and 0 for 6 from 3-point range.
Years later, Bryant said of those misses, “It was an early turning point for me in being able to deal with adversity, deal with public scrutiny and self-doubt. At 18 years old, it was gut-check time. It helped shape me.”
Nov. 1, 2001 — In a 105-101 Lakers’ victory at the Delta Center, Bryant scored 39 points on 11-of-22 from the field and 16-of-19 from the line, while dishing out eight assists. Three nights later in Los Angeles, he nearly matched those numbers with 38 points on 13-of-21 shooting and 12-of-15 from the line in another 4-point L.A. victory.
Dec. 8, 2002 — Bryant had his high assist night against Utah with 14 assists in a 110-101 victory in which he also had five steals and 25 points. He matched that 11 years later with 14 assists to go with 14 points in an 18-point win over the Jazz.
Nov. 30, 2006 — The Jazz came into this game as one of the best teams in the Western Conference at 13-3 with Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko. But behind Bryant, the Lakers lit up the Jazz in a 132-102 victory, as Bryant poured in 52 points, making 19 of 26 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers and 12 of 15 from the foul line.
May 4, 2008 — In the first game of the second round of the playoffs, Bryant led the Lakers to a 109-98 victory as he made 21 of 23 free throws on his way to 38 points. In his other games of the series, he scored 34, 34, 33, 26 and 34 as the Lakers took a 4-2 series win over Utah.
Jan. 11, 2011 — Bryant scored 40 points and hit all 11 free throws, including the clinching foul shots in the final seconds of a 90-87 overtime win.
March 28, 2016 — His final appearance in Utah was one to forget, as Bryant scored just five points on 1-of-11 shooting, including 0-for-4 from long range in a 48-point L.A. loss. Two months earlier in his second-to-last game in Utah, he also scored just five points on 2-of-8 shooting.
April 13, 2016 — In his final game against Utah, or anyone in the NBA for that matter, Bryant saved his best for last, scoring 60 points to lead the Lakers to a come-from-behind victory. It did take him a career-high 50 shots to get there as he made 22 field goals, including six 3-pointers and added 10 of 13 from the foul line.
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