Paul George - Wikipedia
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In the playoffs, teammate O'Neal declared Bryant the best player in the league. In the —02 seasonBryant played 80 games for the first time in his career. He continued his all-round play by averaging He also had a career-high He claimed his first All-Star MVP trophy after a point performance in Philadelphia when he was loudly booed by fans as they had throughout the game, stemming from his earlier comment to a 76ers heckler during the Finals that the Lakers were "going to cut your hearts out".
The Lakers won 58 games that year and finished second place in the Pacific Division behind in-state rival Sacramento Kings. Bryant was suspended one game after he punched Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers after the Lakers' March 1, victory over the Pacers. While the Lakers swept the Blazers and defeated the Spurs 4—1 in the first two rounds of the playoffsthe Lakers did not have home court advantage against the Sacramento Kings.Meet LeBron's Flopping Coach
The series would stretch to 7 games, the first time this happened to the Lakers since the Western Conference Finals. However, the Lakers were able to beat their division rivals and make their third consecutive NBA Finals appearance.
Coming up short — Bryant at the free-throw line, He averaged 30 points per game and embarked on a historic run, posting 40 or more points in nine consecutive games while averaging In addition, he averaged 6. After finishing 50—32 in the regular season, the Lakers floundered in the playoffs and lost in the Western Conference semi-finals in six games to the eventual NBA champions San Antonio Spurs.
Bryant made two buzzer beaters to win the game and the Pacific Division title. At the end of the fourth quarter, Bryant made a 3-pointer with 1. A particularly damaging salvo came when Jackson wrote The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul.
The book detailed the events of the Lakers' tumultuous —04 season and has a number of criticisms of Bryant. In the book, Jackson called Bryant "un-coachable". Despite past differences with Bryant, Jackson returned to coach the Lakers. Bryant's individual scoring accomplishments posted resulted in the finest statistical season of his career.
On December 20,Bryant scored 62 points in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks. Entering the fourth quarter, Bryant outscored the entire Mavericks team 62—61, the only time a player has done this through three quarters since the introduction of the shot clock.
On January 22,Bryant scored a career-high 81 points in a — victory against the Toronto Raptors. Bryant's first high school number was 24 before he switched to They came within six seconds of eliminating the second-seeded Suns in Game 6, however, they lost that game — in overtime.
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The basis given for the suspension was that Bryant had performed an "unnatural motion" in swinging his arm backward. This was the second-best scoring performance of his year career. Smith 's radio program, Bryant expressed anger over a Lakers "insider" who claimed that Bryant was responsible for Shaquille O'Neal 's departure from the team, and publicly stated, "I want to be traded.
On December 23,Bryant became the youngest player 29 years, days to reach 20, points, in a game against the New York Knicksin Madison Square Garden. Despite an injury to his shooting hand's small finger, described as "a complete tear of the radial collateral ligamentan avulsion fractureand a volar plate injury at the MCP joint" that occurred in a game on February 5,Bryant played all 82 games of the regular season instead of opting for surgery.
Regarding his injury, he stated, "I would prefer to delay any surgical procedure until after our Lakers season, and this summer's Olympic Games. But, this is an injury that myself [ sic ] and the Lakers' medical staff will just have to continue to monitor on a day-to-day basis. I'm very proud to represent this organization, to represent this city. He stated, "Kobe deserved it. He's had just another great season. Doesn't surprise me one bit. He recorded 17 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists on 7-of shooting in 20 minutes for the East, but they lost to the West, — During overtime, Dwyane Wade fouled George with 2.
Despite George making all 3 free-throws and putting his team upthe Pacers ultimately lost as LeBron James drove in for a buzzer beater lay-up. George finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals in a 99—91 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
In the playoffsthe Pacers eliminated the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards in the first two rounds. However, on August 1, George landed awkwardly at the base of a basket stanchion after fouling James Harden during a Las Vegas scrimmage, and suffered a compound fracture of both bones in his lower right leg. After George was carted off the court, head coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed the arena stating the game would not continue out of respect to George and his family.
While no official prognosis was initially given, he was considered likely to miss the entire —15 season. He scored 13 points in 15 minutes and made two key three-pointers early in the fourth quarter, helping the Pacers defeat the Miami Heat — On April 16,George played in his first playoff game sinceas he scored 33 points in a Game 1 victory over the second-seeded Toronto Raptors.
Following the —16 season, George joined the United States national team for the Rio Olympics. George averaged an NBA-high After leading 74—49 at halftime, Pacers went on to lose the game — to go down 3—0 in the series. He made 13 of 22 shots and had nine rebounds and seven assists.